Your organization depends on your cybersecurity team to keep its infrastructure and data secure. But this only happens when the employees you manage are engaged in their work. Many organizations see a high burnout rate among those in cybersecurity roles. It’s natural due to the stress and pressure that are an inherent part of the work. Because of this, employee satisfaction is really a cybersecurity concern.
How to Improve Employee Satisfaction
According to the 2021 VMWare Global Incident Response Threat Report, of the 51% of cybersecurity workers who felt extreme stress or burnout during the past 12 months, 65% said they have considered leaving their job because of it. As a manager, you must work to reduce your team’s stress levels and increase their engagement in their work.
Here are seven ways to keep your team happy and productive.
Create and encourage mandatory vacation and paid time off. Many organizations are facing increased cybersecurity attacks and open positions. So, it’s easy for employees to not take vacations. That’s especially true if they perceive that it means long hours before they leave and after they return. However, SHRM found that 78% of managers agree that vacation improves employees’ focus and 81% say time off soothes burnout. As a manager, set a good example by taking your own vacation and paid time off. That way, your team knows it’s not only okay but expected. As much as possible, disconnect from work while you are away so your team feels they can do the same.
To encourage your team to take their vacation time, create a plan for covering each position. That way, employees don’t have to return to a pile of work or manage frantic phone calls while they’re out of the office. On a regular basis, ask for employees’ vacation plans. Create a schedule to balance work with time off to make sure everyone’s plans work together. You can also hold employees to account for taking their time off by including it as part of their goals in their performance reviews.
Overtime Reduces Employee Satisfaction
Monitor and proactively limit overtime when possible. Working some late nights or weekends is part of the job. But it should be the exception to the rule. CIISec’s 2020/21 State of the Profession report found that 47% of cybersecurity professionals work more than 41 hours per week. Some work as many as 90 hours. Track how much overtime your team works. If an employee is working too many hours too often, meet with them to develop a plan to limit their overtime. You should also set an example by leaving on time whenever possible and modeling work-life balance.
Rotate On-Call Times
Being on-call can be tiring and time-consuming, reducing employee satisfaction. While it’s part of the job, it is also a key element of burnout. Work with your team to create a schedule with a fair rotation of nights and weekends. Take turns being on call over the holidays so no one is stuck with every holiday. Keep an eye on the rotation. If one employee seems to be taking more than their fair share of the on-call shifts, meet with them to shift the load across the team.
Celebrate Your People
Celebrate wins and successes. In cybersecurity, the biggest successes are when something doesn’t happen — and these cases are often overlooked. Often, only problems and issues get attention. As a manager, it’s your job to make sure your team gets recognition both within the company and your department. Another good way to improve employee satisfaction is to create a reward system for going so many days without an incident. In addition, honor an employee of the month — complete with prizes, of course. And when someone on your team accomplishes something notable, be sure to publicly recognize them at the next meeting or even through a team-wide email.
Be a Guide Along the Career Path
Create a career plan for each employee. One of the challenges within the cybersecurity industry, especially for small teams, is that employees don’t often see a career path. This makes them feel stuck in their role. LinkedIn found that 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. Meet with each employee at least twice a year to talk about their career goals. Explore how the organization can help them climb the ladder. Encourage employees to get additional training or certifications to move into other roles. In addition, help find funding for these educational opportunities when possible.
Meaning Improves Employee Satisfaction
Assign meaningful projects. During conversations with your team members, ask about projects that interest them. From there, look for opportunities that tie into their interests. If an employee is interested in eventually moving into a role outside the department, keep an eye out for opportunities to help them make the connections they need to do so. When you’re assigning projects and tasks, keep each person’s career goals in mind in addition to their core tasks. By having more meaningful projects to work on, they will be more engaged in their work — even with those tasks that are less enjoyable.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Accommodate work location preference. We’ve seen over the past 18 months that many roles we previously assumed needed to be on-site can be performed remotely. Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index found that 73% of employees want flexible remote options to continue.
Now is a great opportunity to talk with each team member about their work location preference — remote, in-office or hybrid — and then create a plan to help them work in their preferred environment as much as possible. While you may not be able to accommodate their preferences 100%, employees will appreciate your effort and feel more job satisfaction.
These steps reduce stress and improve engagement and employee satisfaction. That way, your team will be more likely to stay at the company for many years to come.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a freelance B2B technology content marketing writer specializing in cybersecurity. Other areas of focus include B2B, finance, tec...