Getting the right balance between work and life at a fast growth start-up

3 minute read

Johnny Warström, CEO and co-founder of interactive presentation platform Mentimeter, reveals how one of the fastest-growing startups in Sweden manages to create a culture of work-life balance

Mentimeter Johnny Warström

Achieving work-life balance in today’s fast-paced world isn't easy. It is becoming even more difficult to separate work from our personal lives as we always tend to stay connected. However, I believe it is vital to try to encourage a 'leave work at work' mindset, both for health reasons and the ability it has to boost employees’ productivity, and ultimately performance.

Initiatives such as ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’ have been gaining momentum in the UK, yet the annual Health and Well-Being at Work Survey Report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that more than four-fifths (83%) of its respondents had observed presenteeism in their organisation.

In contrast, there is a culture of trust between employees and employers in Scandinavia. Many employees are trusted to do their job and go home when they are done, preventing issues around presenteeism. We recognise that longer hours don’t necessarily equate to increased output. What’s more, we have seen burnout fast becoming a serious issue in the workplace, and recently The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised burnout as a medical condition. I believe that the rise of burnouts is partly due to the fact that employers are often not doing enough to create a culture that celebrates a healthy work-life balance. Findings by advisory firm Gallup in 2018 show that when employees are given enough time to achieve their workloads, they are 70% less prone to experiencing workplace burnout.

Employers should value quality over quantity, encouraging employees to leave on time to enjoy their life outside the office. I’ve found that keeping work-life balance on the agenda for the entire company works the best. At Mentimeter we have it as part of one of our core values called 'work smart' that we incorporate in everything from interviews to career development. We want to empower employees to make healthy and honest choices about how they fulfil their responsibilities at work, and I feel that creating an environment that people enjoy and want to work in, is where the focus should be placed.

Being a Swedish-based company has, of course, had a huge impact on the type of work culture we have created. Though Mentimeter is a global company with customers in over 160 countries, and has a 50 person team that includes 18 different nationalities, we have adopted a Scandinavian model that emphasises an inclusive environment and an ethos that encourage a work-life balance.

Swedish companies often practice a horizontal company culture, encouraging workers to become their own leaders by taking initiatives, which in turn creates a more collaborative environment. That’s why there is also often an emphasis on the importance of teamwork and collaborative work across teams.

At Mentimeter, we relocate the entire team to a different country for a month every year. This annual change of scenery is a breath of fresh air that can definitely be felt in the team’s engagement, most significantly in how they work across different departments, and the shared experiences have a direct impact on business results. After every relocation, we come back with a more efficient team with numerous innovative ideas that wouldn’t have come up in a normal week at the office. Living together in a new city improves our working relationships by cultivating trust and confidence, helping us build a positive company culture.

Ultimately, cultivating a culture that values work-life balance improves both employee wellbeing and business results, and that’s why it’s important to clearly communicate and demonstrate to your team that their welfare matters.

Johnny Warström (pictured below) is CEO and co-founder of the interactive presentation platform Mentimeter

Johnny Warström

Published 24 July 2019

There is a culture of trust between employees and employers in Scandinavia. Many employees are trusted to do their job and go home when they are done. We recognise that longer hours don’t necessarily equate to increased output

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