January 25, 2023 By Jennifer Gregory 2 min read

For many organizations and the cybersecurity industry as a whole, improving retention and reducing the skills gap is a top priority. Mimecast’s The State of Ransomware Readiness 2022: Reducing the Personal and Business Cost points to another growing concern — burnout that leads to attrition.

Without skilled employees, organizations cannot protect their data and infrastructure from increasing cybersecurity attacks. According to Mimecast’s report, 77% of cybersecurity leaders say the number of cyberattacks against their company has increased or stayed the same since last year. Additionally, 36% of organizations report a loss in revenue due to ransomware attacks in the past 12 months.

Considering the growing need for skilled cybersecurity workers, what can organizations do to combat burnout and prevent attrition?

Attacks negatively affect cybersecurity professionals’ mental health

The increased and seemingly constant cybersecurity threats take a personal toll on cybersecurity professionals. The majority (57%) would feel very personally responsible in the event of a ransomware attack. While this statistic has fallen from 71% in 2021 due to the higher number of threats, cybersecurity professionals still take home significant stress from their jobs —  especially those who hold themselves responsible.

After a ransomware attack, organizations often see an immediate effect on their cybersecurity team. Leaders on one-third of teams report a higher number of absences due to burnout in the months after an attack. Unsurprisingly, the stress affects employees, with 54% reporting a negative impact on mental health. Additionally, 56% say that their role becomes more stressful each year.

Burnout affects recruiting and retention

Because of the stress and burnout associated with working in cybersecurity, organizations are now struggling to retain the experienced professionals needed to protect them from future attacks. The report found that a third of cybersecurity decision-makers are thinking of leaving their roles in the next two years due to stress or burnout. Additionally, 34% of leaders reported struggling with recruiting essential IT staff after an attack.

However, organizations can help reduce burnout of their cybersecurity teams. Here are a few ways:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements to let employees find the best work/life balance for their situation. Include the option for remote and hybrid work when possible.
  • Provide training opportunities to help employees grow their careers and skill sets.
  • Create career paths to allow employees experiencing burnout to find another role in the company. Regularly discuss those opportunities to ensure employees are aware of all their options.
  • Offer employees extra time off following attacks that increase stress and overtime.

Cybersecurity is stressful. But organizations that do not work to reduce burnout among employees are likely to be less prepared for future attacks. By working proactively in partnership with employees, leaders can recognize signs of burnout and take action to reduce stress.

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