October 7, 2020

Well-being in the tech industry: 5 things you can do to elevate yours

After graduating I started working in tech right away. I was psyched to start working in this fast-moving industry. I had heard great stories of friends who were working and obviously playing hard in the tech sector. Due to the numerous positive stories of friends and other people about the tech sector, it was an obvious choice for me in which industry to start my career after my master’s in Business Information Management.

What all the people I spoke about working in tech didn’t say, is what I found out working for years in the tech sector. This young industry is exciting but can be a huge threat to your wellbeing. Why’s that? Read this post and you’ll find out!

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But first, why do we want to aim for mental wellbeing at work? It’s just a source of income, right? No, far from. It’s part of your identity. Often, you spend more time at work as you spend time with your partner. Mental wellbeing is fundamental to the mental health of an individual. Feeling mentally healthy increases the probability that you will overcome the inevitable challenges and that you’ll achieve what you want. Mental wellbeing is important from the employer’s perspective because it boosts productivity and reduces employee absenteeism. At the same time, it is important for you as an employee because mental wellbeing has a causal effect on job- and life satisfaction. 

While the awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing increases, the tech industry remains growing exponentially. In the 50s and 60s, the revenue generated in the technology industry was just a fraction of other industries like automotive and manufacturing. Now the roles have turned around and the technology industry is the forerunner driving the GDP of countries. Business after business was established to satisfy the consumer and corporate demands in electronics, software, and hardware. And obviously services needed to be catered to all these new offerings and myriad IT professional services saw the light.

While the companies in the tech industry were growing like weeds, the organizational structure and culture couldn’t keep up with the demand that needed to be satisfied. Today, tech giants are surpassing 1 trillion dollars in market capitalization, which is bigger than the GDP of several countries. Operational efficiency and production started to stand at the core of all the organization and the focus pivoted away from maintaining the mental health of their employees. More and more companies started to recognize this and reinvented their corporate culture accordingly, spearheaded by Google Culture. 

But why is it often considered so difficult for tech companies to keep employee’s wellbeing above par? There are several reasons that contribute to the inability of many tech companies to ensure employee mental health. Firstly, the amount of innovation, and for that reason change, present in the tech industry is significantly higher than any other industry. This obviously results also in a lot of organizational change.

Secondly, many companies in the tech industry are growing exponentially at the same pace as the industry. And, it has been researched that rapid growth leads to increased work pressure and an increase in internal politics. Thirdly, tech companies tend to headquarter in the metropolis of this world. This brings advantages business-wise but brings a lot of challenges for employees. What do you think of the long disgusting commutes in overcrowded cities? Or the high cost of living often accompanies living in the close proximity of one of the metropolises (e.g. San Francisco). These are just some of the reasons why tech companies struggle to increase wellbeing. 

Nevertheless, we don’t believe it is impossible to obtain a mentally healthy life in the tech industry. First of all, I believe we have to give up hoping that employers will fix this for you. Of course, they benefit from your mental health that will boost your productivity. But companies like Salesforce, Google, and Facebook are under scrutiny 24/7 from their shareholders which makes it darn difficult for them to really care about their employees.

All the employees are just basically one shackle in the chain to optimize the business efficiency aiming to optimize corporate metrics. Of course, they care about their shackles, but only to the extent that they will stay in shape to keep the chain in shape. Having a mentally healthy life in the tech industry simply requires you to own this metric. 

We’ll not elaborate on a list of things companies can do to boost your mental health. We prefer to look at what you can do already today, right now, to increase your wellbeing. Here are my 5 favorites:

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1. Master your mind

The long commute, the surrealistic working atmosphere, and the constantly changing organization structure are elements that are basically just inherent to the tech industry. You chose to work in this industry. While you take all the advantages, you also have to deal with the disadvantages. And that doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s just a matter of mind work. 

Next time you are in a dreadful commute look at the positives like the extra time to study. Next time, you have to move desks again because management restructured everything again, look at the positives and embrace the opportunity to meet new people, and develop yourself.

2. Choose for the now

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If you are working in tech, so many stimuli are thrown at you not on a daily basis but on a minute basis. There’s only one place where you will find true wellbeing and that is now, just in this present moment. Choose once in a while to push your laptop and your endless to-do list to the side and enjoy a moment in the now. Meditate or go for a nice walk around the office. Attempt to rip yourself away from the working rut.

3. Choose a healthy life

Obviously, but even more important while you are working in tech. Working in tech is like a paradox. Health is prioritized but at the same time an abundance of unhealthy snacks are provided and irregular work hours are awarded. Don’t fall for the set lifestyle of tech companies but use the tools that are provided to live a healthy life where you got all your nutrition, exercise, and sufficient sleep.

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4. Choose to spend time for yourself

Working in tech is amazing because every day a new cool event is thrown where you participate and have loads of fun. You can have drinks every day. Probably you are able to do all kind of activities on a weekly basis. That’s amazing. But we all need some me-time so once in a while. So don’t neglect the innate need that we have to spend some time by yourself. Ideally, schedule some time every week regularly to have some me-time. 

5. Widen your horizons

I have been there. The tech industry can swallow you up. Before you know it you spend your weekend and evening besides the regular working hours with people working in tech. Normally, people working in tech are very sociable, open, and have the same interest. Hence, many people tend to not leave the safe haven and embrace also merely techies as friends. It has been researched that a diverse social environment, differing in age, culture, industry etcetera, can boost your wellbeing.

Know that these tips are only 5 of the many ways to boost your mental health in the tech industry. In the end, it is a journey for you to embark to optimize your wellbeing while working in tech. A coach can be of huge help here to support you on your path. Your coach can steer you in the direction where he knows, based on experience, where a lot of people find peace of mind.

We hope that these tips helped you to increase mental wellbeing in the tech industry. But let’s do this together. We would love to provide you with feedback on your current lifestyle aiming to optimize your wellbeing working in tech.

Book a free consultation & gain some additional practical tips that we haven’t shared here.

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Written by Jasper De Taeye

Jasper is one of the founders of Amplio Coaching. He has been working in tech his entire career and he reconciles his experience working in tech with his personal development knowledge. Jasper is a certified life coaching through the Dublin Business University and a master NLP practitioner studying at the Scottish Centre of NLP.

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