Hello and happy Monday,
This week’s main headlines:
- Coding school Microverse doubles valuation 💰
- Heura partner with Barca women’s team 👑
- Meta launch metaverse app in Spain 🥽
Mental health at startups: the elephant in the room 🐘😶🌫️
Weekly mass lay-offs by startups as VC funding dried up, a war in Europe, and record inflation everywhere you look, including Catalonia. Covid is also still around – even if we’ve stopped talking about it. On top of that, we’re in the midst of summer, which means lots of time to think … and worry. I’m not writing this to create anxiety, but rather to speak about an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention: mental health at work.
A recent Sifted survey
of 133 readers from across Europe found that 87% of startup employees said that working at a startup had negatively impacted their mental health at some point
. 87%! Of course, the fairy-tale social media lens may make it seem like everyone is thriving, but clearly, real life isn’t exactly
The top three reasons for experiencing mental health issues according to the survey are burnout, a toxic boss, and a lack of job security – all pretty familiar to most people so nothing really “new”. However, what’s shocking to me is that in today’s age, one in five people with mental health problems cite being bullied, discriminated against, or harassed as the main cause. That’s really sad!
So whether it’s stress at work, too much work, or toxic work culture
, the fact that virtually nine out of ten startup employees are struggling to find mental balance is pretty-eye opening.
So what can we do about it?
First, accept that this is a real problem affecting almost everyone. Especially if you’re a big company, it’s highly unlikely that every member of staff is fine.
Second, speak and listen to your team. If you don’t know what’s going on or that there are issues, it will be hard to develop solutions.
Third, it’s always best to fix the root cause rather than alleviate symptoms. So if there is a toxic workplace, address it head on – hiring the right people, practising what you preach (don’t just draft corporate values and put it on your homepage), proper team building, intervening where needed, and so on. If it’s burnout, you’ll probably want to look at your corporate work hours and overtime habits.
Fourth, if you can’t fix it – and some problems like job security, which is to some extent tied to uncontrollable external factors, might even be near impossible to resolve – then at the very least offer help
to your employees. This could be as advanced as offering free mental health support to your team, which is something that Barcelona-based firm Oliva
is doing. Or, as a bare minimum, be mindful, show empathy, and check in on your team members’ feelings.
Fifth, consider sharing your own vulnerability
. Mental health is still stigmatized so this helps to raise awareness that it’s normal to struggle. And as the data shows, we virtually all do. I love what Àlex from MarsBased did a few years ago
, for instance.
To follow that lead, I admit it too: managing a company has its difficult moments which affects my mental health occasionally.
That’s no surprise – I’m responsible for the people who work for me as well as for people I work for (owners, clients) or affect (stakeholders, third parties). I can’t control everything and I mess up sometimes too. I’m also a pleaser, so this only adds more pressure. However, I’m happy (and probably a two-week vacation coming up doesn’t hurt either), and I’m very fortunate to be in a positive work environment which includes very supportive superiors and team members. Also, a 10-min meditation first thing in the morning, running, as well as reading 30 minutes before sleep helps me keep my mental health in check.
I hope this may help a few folks out there!
What are your thoughts and tips? Drop me a LinkedIn message here
Written by Clemens
Stay positive and work on your mental health :)