Who’s Taking Care of the Owners?

There has been a lot of talk in the last few years about taking care of our employees’ mental health and for good reason! Gallup’s State of Global Workforce report for 2023 shows that 51% of North American workers feel negative stress DAILY. This is tied with Asia for the highest regional percentage of daily stress.

So yes – let’s take care of our people:

  • Provide a workplace where they can do what they do best and be part of something bigger.
  • Make sure that workplace is safe (psychologically and otherwise) and inclusive.
  • Ensure your compensation plan includes a robust benefits plan including an EAP.

This isn’t about THEM, though. This is about the bosses, the founders, the leaders – Who’s taking care of them?

Research by Dr. Michael Freeman shows that 72% of founders express concern about their mental health,  Let me tell you, it’s FAR easier to find statistics and strategies for workers than it is for this group.  But…. If nobody is taking care of the leaders, then how can they take care of their people? It’s like a snowball getting bigger and bigger and bigger....

If founders are already experiencing mental health concerns, do you think harping on them to take care of their staff is helpful? It’s just one more concern to add to the growing list.

In my experience working with entrepreneurs – they’re an independent bunch – almost to a fault. Phrases like “I got it,” “I’ll do it myself,” “I’ll take care of it,” etc., are pretty prevalent in their vocabulary. Asking for help might be pretty foreign to them if they even recognize the need for it at all.

Generational considerations also come into play here. From the boomer “work/business is no place for feelings” to Gen X “suck it up buttercup” mentalities leave these leaders at risk, in my opinion. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight – it’s an advanced and severe condition that can result from prolonged, unmanaged stress. 

So – what do you do?

1. Recognize the signs –

There are some clear indicators when things aren't quite right. These can include:

Behavioural Changes:

  • Increased irritability, impatience, or frustration
  • Decreased motivation and enthusiasm
  • Neglecting personal needs and well-being
  • Withdrawal from social interaction
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms

Performance and Productivity:

  • Persistent fatigue and lack of energy
  • Decreased productivity and efficiency
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Loss of creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • Increased absenteeism

Attitude and Mental Well-being:

  • Increased cynicism or detachment
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, stomachaches, etc.)
  • Difficulty maintaining focus and attention
  • Decline in overall mental well-being

2. Take Care of Yourself

  • Take a walk or get some exercise of some sort. Try and get some solid sleep, and be sure to add some healthy eating choices to your diet. Adequate rest and nutrition play a crucial role in maintaining physical and mental resilience.
  • Schedule some downtime and breaks during your workday. If you don’t pick up your phone for 10 minutes, will anybody die? Probably not! Don’t discount the power of taking a few deep breaths to get you grounded and recharged.
  • Create some boundaries between work and home. Leave work at work – I know, it’s easier said than done. Set some clear working hours and adhere to them. If you finish work at 6 pm – don’t answer your phone or emails, or do any other work-related stuff until your start time the next morning.

I'm an entrepreneur, too - I get it.... So, IF you can’t sleep because there’s a work thing on your mind. Write it down or do it – whatever you need to do to get some good SLEEP!

3. Talk It Out

Please know when enough is enough.  Seek professional help if you are experiencing persistent and severe physical or mental health symptoms. If you’re not ready or don’t feel like you need professional help, it’s still helpful to find people to talk it out with!

They’re not wrong when they say, “It’s lonely at the top."  Look for FORUM groups, Owner Roundtables, or Mastermind groups either online or in person. You could even keep it simple and grab one or more of your business owner buddies and create a recurring meeting where you talk about your wins, your challenges, and your short-term goals.

I do this weekly with another business owner, and it sure helps me to stay on track, and remember to celebrate the wins. We also talk about challenges we're facing that our other friends and family members may not understand.

While starting a business takes courage and bravery, taking care of your mental health is sometimes even more courageous!   By doing so –

  • Your family will thank you
  • Your staff will thank you
  • If your business could talk, it would thank you too!


Download this free e-book for more strategies 

About the Author Lissa Daub

Lissa Daub is the founder of The Strong Impact Academy. She is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR), a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), and a certified Life & Executive Coach. She also specializes in CliftonStrengths and helps her clients leverage their strengths to find success.
Lissa grew up in an entrepreneurial family and observed from an early age the kinds of struggles business owners go through. She bought her first business at age 22. Several years later, she exited her business to venture into the corporate world. Here, she worked in purchasing, production planning, quality control and human resources. Throughout her career, she has gained expertise in helping owners just like you. As a Value Builder Advisor, Lissa is an expert on building value and developing a plan for success using a systematic approach to measure and improve the value of a business.
More than that, Lissa Daub is a skilled instructor who can teach you how to set your business up to thrive without you, enabling you to regain control of your life or exit your business.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}