Home » Building Balance in a Tech Start-up: A Guide to Healthy Working
Building a tech start-up from journey from inception to success can be hugely rewarding but ultimately, it’s riddled with challenges and occupational risks. Entrepreneurs venturing into the tech domain enter a space with a lot of competition, many stories of historic failures and a degree of market saturation. Founders often focus on avoiding potential pitfalls in the external-facing business, market or product, rather than building a business culture that empowers the team. With unhealthy culture, comes an impact on the well-being of the business, the employees, and the customers in some cases.
We’ll be exploring the common pitfalls of overworking, burnout culture and how to grow a tech start-up the right way, ensuring a clearer path towards real, sustainable growth.
Long Hours in the Tech Culture
One common challenge in the tech industry is the temptation to accept long working hours, especially in roles that demand intense concentration, like accounting, sales, coding or cybersecurity. It’s not uncommon for start-up founders or employees to find themselves immersed in their work, striving to meet tight deadlines or build things quicker than the competition. While dedication is commendable, an unhealthy work-life balance can lead to burnout and negatively impact both physical and mental health. As a founder, you’re not just going to suffer from a greater chance of errors or lower morale. It’s a distinct risk to the business.
The Dangers of Overworking
In the pursuit of success, the temptation to accept and encourage overworking poses some significant risks. Employees subjected to prolonged hours in front of the computer may experience musculoskeletal issues and wide-ranging burnout symptoms including eye strain and heightened stress levels. If they aren’t aware of the need to take breaks or how to sit and work comfortably, they can become long-term. Physical issues and serious mental conditions like PTSD or Depression have been found to occur in cases where employees overwork and embrace overworking as a normal means of operating. This not only impacts their productivity but puts their overall well-being at stake.
Tech start-ups have been lauded for the way they challenge the status quo of industries like financial services, changing how we offer traditional products or services to customers. Yet certain start-ups have allowed some of the less desired cultural facets of finance to continue, with their employees also facing long hours and burnout. As a founder, take a proactive stance on building great culture, as much as you aim to build great products.
With growth comes responsibility. Founders must be aware of their legal obligations to offer a safe working environment. It’s not just about protecting data or property, it’s also about safeguarding the physical and mental well-being of your employees. Your workplace needs to draw up and then enforce policies that encourage healthy practices for roles that involve extensive computer use, for example; otherwise, many of the conditions mentioned above aren’t just your employees’ problems but yours, too.
An unhealthy, unhappy workforce isn’t a productive one; but if you haven’t taken preventative actions, you may be subject to personal injury claims against your business. Although commonly associated with manual work because it comes with obvious physical risks, a tech business needs to understand compensation for personal injury claims, too. This is because “personal injury” can encompass conditions caused by sitting and working for extended periods or with incorrect practices like breaks or correct posture in place. In a competitive space like Fintech, you risk losing talent due to a reputation for operating unsafely as well as the financial burden of covering claims caused by your business culture.
Creating a Safe Working Environment
So what can you do about it? Establishing a safe and conducive working environment involves more than just providing ergonomic furniture. You can consider implementing policies that promote regular breaks, discourage excessive overtime, and encourage a healthy work-life balance. Investing in employee well-being pays off in increased productivity, creativity, and long-term commitment. It’s not just a managed risk, it’s an opportunity to build a happier, more productive workforce.
The Importance of Workplace Safety Learnings
You can also educate your staff to work safer, too. Should it come to legal action, having done this would serve as evidence that you’ve made a reasonable effort to ensure the safety of employees, too. You can’t supervise the way everyone works, all the time, so incorporating workplace safety learnings is both a legal requirement and a core aspect of responsible business ownership. Regular training on ergonomic practices, stress management, and mental health awareness can contribute to a safer and more supportive work environment.
Building a successful tech start-up goes beyond coding and innovation; it requires a holistic approach that considers the well-being of both the business and its employees. Some of the world’s most successful tech businesses – right up to companies like Google – are known for the way they treat their team.
Costs are often higher when investing in a high quality office space, which is never ideal for a cash-strapped start-up. However, it’s money well-spent compared to fronting the costs of an injury claim, or losing talent and business due to an unhappy, unhealthy workforce. Prioritize workplace safety, promote a healthy work culture, and stay vigilant against potential threats. Only then, can you be confident that your team is working at its best, and your customers will be receiving the best from them.