Start-up stress hinders entrants

By Brad Shewmake, InfoWorld |  Career

"It's very hard to find good people to expand and build the team," says Jeff Ungar,
CTO at ePod.com, in New York. "There is just too much to implement, and you need to do
what requires a thousand people with only 30. That puts a lot of stress and
expectations on the team."

Dot-com companies are now realizing the significance of these drawbacks: Hiring
employees is more difficult now that working for dot-com companies isn't perceived as
all fun and games and that the payoff is risky. Furthermore, the available pool of
talent is young and unproven. Separating the good from the bad is difficult at any
level, and companies need to evaluate candidates carefully to make sure they fit the
job.

"There are people who have the credentials and are really good, and people who have
the credentials and are no good," says Andrew Condon, CTO at Iona Technologies, in
Waltham, Mass. "But it's really hard to tell the difference."

Give them a break

Young workers are a greater risk than more experienced professionals because they
are more susceptible to the stresses of working at a start-up, including high
expectations, unrealistic deadlines, and unrelenting pressure to perform. To combat
these on-the-job hazards and alleviate burnout, savvy managers are encouraging all
workers to get away from their desks more often.

David Zach, a consultant and principal at Innovative Futures, in Milwaukee, says
that smokers and coffee drinkers have the right idea in taking frequent breaks on the
job. "More and more people are going to coffee, taking more smoking breaks," he
says. "There's a natural human need to get out and have some conversation that is not
worrk-related."

BCA's Kaye agrees that breaks are absolutely crucial.

"Many times workers work very closely to each other in the 'cube' environment, and
that is very stressful because it's noisy, there's little or no privacy, and there is a
forced conviviality," Kaye says.

Working out is a healthy alternative to smoking or coffee breaks, and many
businesses provide on-premises gyms or offer discounted gym membership programs to
workers.

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