How Does the Startup World Contribute to Burnout?

March 2, 2021

The startup world can be a tough business. It requires passion, business smarts, and a supportive team willing to put in the effort. The stereotypical entrepreneur runs on very little sleep, lots of caffeine, ramen noodles, and isolation. This idea has been glorified and encouraged—sacrifices necessary for achievement. However, this is not helpful or healthy when it comes to long-term success.

Debilitating mental health issues can severely affect one’s daily grind (Maclean’s). Reality is, the number of Canadians facing down these issues is growing as employee stress levels rise. A 2019 study by Morneau Shepell Ltd. discovered that over one-third of employees report being more stressed now from personal issues and work than they were five years ago. This is supported by the high living costs of big cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. It’s also supported by a need to “always be on” for our personal and professional lives.

The Startup World’s Contribution to Burnout

Every day, approximately 500,000 Canadians find themselves unable to work due to mental health issues. According to Maclean’s, “At startups, burnout is as common as communal spaces.” Similar to the tech industry, the startup world seems to be getting hit hard by burnout thanks to little or no health benefits alongside higher expectations of productivity and longer hours.

It’s a lot.

Not to mention, there’s pressure on leaders and employees to succeed in this new venture due to higher stakes. And when you believe so surely in something, burnout can sneak up on you. You may not even notice the signs when you are filled with adrenaline and a deep-rooted passion to see a project through.

As the co-founder of Buffer explains from personal experience, “As soon as the adrenaline subsided my body, and mind, I suddenly realized everything I’d gone through. That’s when the burnout really hit me. The adrenaline had been masking things.”

If we’re constantly driven, moving, and thinking of the next thing on our ever-growing to-do list, we can get lost in our work. Especially if we’re trying to prove something (due to imposter syndrome or self-worth) and need to shove any insecurities deep down to obtain investors.

Additionally, we might miss our body’s signals that we’re overdoing it or feeling entirely overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s easy to have “nothing left” in the tank and lose motivation as soon as a project is complete.

What Needs to be Done in the Startup World?

Startup companies used to get away with offering employees less but with room to gain; however, putting employee mental health first (also from a leadership standpoint) is an overdue necessity. Deloitte Canada’s research revealed a significant ROI (return on investment) when companies implemented workplace mental health programs. According to Deloitte Canada, prioritizing employee wellness across the spectrum of mental health can lead to improved job performance and mitigate the costs of doing nothing at work. That’s a win-win.

Are you experiencing burnout and searching for more information? Continue reading about Burnout Support and Prevention Resources: Are There Enough?


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