How to Recognise and Prevent Burnout in Startups

Startups are challenging to work at. What steps can you take to prevent employees from overworking themselves & burning out?
How to Recognise and Prevent Burnout in Startups
Erika Rykun

Working in a startup can be a unique experience for new employees as the amount of effort they put in directly translates to the overall output of the business.

As a result, employees often become personally invested in aiding the company’s growth and seeing the fruits of their labor.

Since startups are challenging to work at, employees usually end up overworking themselves, resulting in burnout.

Moreover, ever since Covid-19, the situation has worsened. As evident from a survey conducted by,

69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms due to working from home.

Let’s look at some potential causes for burnouts in startups and how employers can help combat them.

3 Common Causes of Burnout in Startups

Overload of Responsibilities

The leading cause of burnout in a startup for an employee is taking on more responsibilities than they can manage.

Most new employees are over-eager to benefit the company they are working for to get more recognition.

As a result, they often end up doing more work than they should, which in turn increases their stress levels because they aren’t able to manage the workload effectively.

That’s why employers should always be aware of and evaluate the responsibilities of each of their employees in order to recognise potential red flags of burnout. The Hi5 app can be a great tool to identify burnout and support employees who are suffering from it.

All Work, No Play

Startups usually begin with minimal resources and eager workers who have a lot they want to achieve. Eventually, they may end up focusing too much on their work and start burning themselves out.

With no way to release their stress, startup employees can become victims of stress disorders that render them unable to work for extended periods.

There are ways to prevent the buildup of stress in employees, most of which are discussed in our burnout prevention section below.

Lack of Work-Life Balance

Every employee looks forward to going home and unwinding after a long day’s work. A healthy work-life balance can do wonders for an employee’s morale.

However, this might not be the case at startups where an increased and irregular workload is often part and parcel of the job description.

On the other hand, sometimes, the employer does not respect their employees’ boundaries and asks them to work even on their off time. This further increases the risk of burnout and the employee resenting their boss.

Almost 66% of all full-time employees in America do not have a good work-life balance, and 60% of employees blame their bosses.

Ways to Prevent Burnout in Startups

1) Divide & Conquer Responsibilities

Most startups try to save all the money they can by investing in a few good employees who are then burdened with multiple roles and responsibilities.

This backfires in the long run as their employees can’t handle the increasing pressure and eventually resign.

A more innovative way to operate would be to equally divide responsibilities among all their employees while encouraging them to be open about their work capacity.

These actions keep employee morale high and incentivise employees to work to their maximum ability.

Organise Team Activities with Your Employees

Introducing team activities and team-building exercises is a great way to combat, boost employee engagement and keep their spirits up.

Perhaps the team leader could host an occasional team lunch or picnic or spend a day out with the team.

Maybe you could also introduce a happy hour after work for co-workers to mingle and get to know each other.

Since the events are for the employees’ benefit, it’s best to factor in their opinions and come up with something everyone can enjoy.

Alternatively, for those working from home, you can organise online corporate games to promote a friendly environment.

Maintain Work-Life Balance

As an employer, one of the easiest things you can do to boost the morale of your employees is to allow them to recharge during flexible working hours / leave days.

Suppose an employee can take the time to focus on other activities they enjoy like reading books or engaging in other hobbies.

This way, they’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to work better than ever.

As a team leader, it’s your job to ensure that your team members have the margin to pursue their passions and interests.

Get to Know Each Member of Your Team

When you first assemble a team for your startup, you must make it a top priority to get to know each member of your team.

This small act can be massive in the eyes of your employees. They’ll know that they’re valuable assets at your company and not only “spinning cogs” in a big machine that are easy to replace.

Something like a simple personality test may be a perfect ice breaker to start getting to know your employees. It’s easier to start a conversation and learn more about others when you’ve done something constructive together, like playing a game or taking the personality test.

Whichever way you choose, building relationships with your employees will go a long way in earning their respect.

Final Thoughts

Due to the non-hierarchical structure of startups compared to large-scale companies, employees have to play multiple roles and have a big emotional investment in the company.

Failing to manage their workload can make them feel overburdened, which will eventually lead to burnout.

Remember that employee motivation plays a vital role in the success of any startup. The more refreshed your employees feel, the higher their productivity will be.

So, consider distributing their responsibilities, conducting regular activities, and maintaining an excellent work-life balance to make the most out of your workforce.

About the Author

Erika Rykun is a copywriter and content manager. She is an avid reader and runner. You can get in touch with her on Twitter.

Looking for an easy way to check Employee Mental Health? Try Hi5 Pulse Templates for free >