The world is a scary and unknown environment with constant disturbances from war, tragedies, wildfires, drought, and a very competitive workplace. People are going through tremendous amounts of anxiety and sources of stress are continually multiplying. People cope by exercising, meditating, reaching to a higher power, or taking a break to get a change of environment for a while.
In my years as the founder of a startup, I’ve noticed that mental health issues are more common in the startup environment and in people who are involved in entrepreneurial activities. Taking a look at my mental health and watching those around me sink into depression has taught me steps to help my company remain a healthy and positive work environment for everyone.
Remove the negativity
I’m a part of the team that founded Humm.ly and I put my trust in an individual who had valuable skills the team needed, but had shown questionable behaviors that I overlooked. I put him in charge of a team and project because I had faith in his work and standards he established. The person had negative qualities including a lack of patience and a bad temper that discouraged employees. It was hard to even talk to him due to the arguments and frequent criticism, and I eventually realized that his presence was negative for other employees and performance and let him go. Him leaving prevented his negativity from spreading to others.
Physical activity reduces depression and anxiety, but it’s not always easy to exercise on a regular basis when dealing with the stress of starting a new company. At the beginning of my career, I ate ramen noodles, gained too much weight, and ate way too much take-out food. This was not how we wanted to present our company to others. I encouraged the team to join classes with me, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. Lead by example by creating and participating in exercise initiatives. The changes employees experience can improve their attitude and work performance.
Managing the good and bad days of owning a startup is an emotional experience. It’s natural for some ups and downs to occur, but you also need to monitor the well-being of your team members, especially when the company is still forming. Talk to your employees individually on a regular basis to check up and see how they’re doing. You can invite them to the office, take a day trip, or have lunch. You’ll establish trust and show you care.
Focus on being positive and supportive
Create a company culture that thrives on support and a positive experience. Stress and burnout from strict deadlines cause internal issues, so you’ll want to give your team support and encourage them to take the next step forward. Help them feel welcome and know that they matter to the overall team. Be positive yourself and employees will follow your example.
The startup world is competitive and stressful. If company members aren’t aware of their own mental and physical health conditions, the company could collapse. All founders need to focus on listening, empathy, and communication to foster happiness, prosperity, and longevity.