Ensuring mental wellbeing in your scale-up: overcoming 5 common challenges

08 November 2023

Being an HR manager in a scale-up is a juggling act, with a multitude of responsibilities to handle. As your workforce grows, your organisation becomes increasingly complex and dynamic. Balancing the need for mental wellbeing in a scale-up, where stressors like a heavy workload, distance, and ongoing changes can create challenges, requires careful consideration. We spoke with 10 HR managers from various scale-ups and identified the most prevalent challenges.

Blog - Scale-up

1. Balancing talent development and mental wellbeing

In scale-ups, the focus on talent development and mental wellbeing often takes a back seat, as other immediate priorities demand attention. In larger companies, there's typically a full-time HR manager dedicated to these concerns. However, in scale-ups, it's quite the opposite. When you join a scale-up as an HR manager, you usually start from square one, establishing fundamental processes and a clear structure to support further growth. Developing talents and addressing mental wellbeing often follow, even though the demand for these aspects among employees is significant.

Tip: If you're working with limited resources and don't have room for a full-time HR manager, consider implementing tools or accessible approaches to alleviate workload and reinforce your company's policies. You can organise knowledge-sharing sessions among employees to enhance their skills and provide an avenue for discussing mental wellbeing. In your conversations with employees, make sure to address mental wellbeing, demonstrating your commitment to their overall welfare and encouraging them to reach out when needed.

2. Balancing growth and workload

Scale-ups in a phase of rapid growth bring excitement and challenges to the workplace. While a certain level of tension can be motivating, it often translates into a high workload, putting pressure on employees. This is especially true for young employees who possess significant potential and a desire for perfectionism but may hesitate to express their concerns due to shame or fear of appearing weak. Sometimes, these highly promising individuals may unexpectedly leave your organisation, either taking extended leave or searching for new job opportunities.

Tip: As an HR manager, you can mitigate this issue by fostering awareness among your employees. Creating a work environment where mental wellbeing is openly discussed reduces barriers to sharing concerns. If your employees are struggling, work with them to address the stress or workload challenges. It's essential not only to identify issues but to resolve them effectively.

3. Blurred boundaries of remote work

Remote work has become the norm for many organisations, transforming not only our work lives but our personal lives as well. The flexibility telecommuting offers is indeed appealing, allowing us to accomplish daily tasks before the evening rush, integrate short workouts into breaks, and utilize commuting time for relaxation. However, remote work has blurred the boundaries between work and personal life, leading many individuals to work incessantly. The evidence is clear: according to a study by Acerta, 40% of teleworkers experience more stress than when they worked in traditional office settings.

Tip: Encourage your employees to disconnect from work regularly. In the evening, ensure work-related emails don't disturb personal time, and during the weekend, stow away laptops in less accessible places. Emphasize the importance of being available within reasonable limits. Only by maintaining a healthy work-life balance can your employees make lasting contributions to your scale-up.

Here's a golden tip for remote workers: designate separate spaces for work and leisure. Physical boundaries between these spaces help your brain differentiate between work and leisure, preventing work from intruding on personal time.

4. Remote work and increased distance

Remote work not only blurs the line between work and personal life but also affects the bonds between colleagues. In an online environment, it becomes more challenging to ask questions, delegate tasks, and engage in casual conversations that typically occur spontaneously at the office. Teams become more isolated, hindering collaboration and connection. As an HR manager, monitoring employees from a distance poses a unique set of challenges, making it easier to overlook potential issues.

For scale-ups experiencing rapid growth, transitioning from close-knit, collaborative teams to distinct departments can further strain employee connections. To sustain high levels of engagement amid rapid expansion, preserving the warm company culture you've established is essential. Read more about this in our blog about the role of an HR manager in a scale-up.

Tip: When the threshold for discussing mental health concerns has become too high for employees to approach their employer, a dependable and accessible external support system can be invaluable. Such a resource allows employees to seek assistance anonymously and promptly for any concerns or questions.

5. Defining the limits of HR support

As an HR manager, determining how far you should go in supporting your employees can be challenging, especially when personal problems are involved. Striking a balance is essential, and sometimes the line between your role and personal matters is quite thin.

Tip: Seek external partners who provide psychological support and are available to your employees in an easily accessible manner. Partner with someone trustworthy who can address employee concerns effectively while reducing your workload.

BloomUp, a digital platform, offers a simple way for your employees to access mental support from an external provider. With just a few clicks, employees can connect with a mental sidekick to work together on their challenges. By offering accessible support, your organisation can reduce setbacks and enhance employee engagement.