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Preventing burn out, fatigue and stress in your cyber workforce

about 2 months ago by Chris Holt

Preventing burn out, fatigue and stress in your cyber workforce

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One of the key contributing factors for higher churn in the Cybersecurity departments of businesses across all sectors is the increased risk of burnout, fatigue and stress. This is especially true over throughout the H1 of 2020 as remote working, risk of redundancy and general instability across the market is taking its toll. 
 
What is Burnout and how does it occur?
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) included burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that is characterised by:
 
Depleted energy or exhaustion
An increase in negativity and cynicism regarding the job — a “mental distance” of sorts
A reduction in “professional efficacy ”
 
It should be pointed out that business cyber related stresses, burnout and fatigue aren’t just felt by CISO, cyber management team and board. It is felt in some way by all of the members of the cyber team, no matter their seniority, skill or tenure. 
 
This increase in pressure, stress and fatigue has now become one of the key reasons that individuals are opening up to be discreetly explore new opportunities.
 
Why should employers care about burnout within the cyber industry? 
 
Increase in risk to the business if employees leave / are signed off.
Increased pressure to the other employees. (A vicious cycle).
Reputational damage. 
You are failing the most important asset of your business- your employees.
Challenges of replacing staff- The top specialist talent who you would love to have in your team are not available to the traditional methods of recruitment. (Job adverts, Linkedin messages / in mails etc).
 
What can we do about it?
 
Manage workload. 
Short bursts of intense work is not only manageable, and often very productive. However, if those short burst turn into long consistent periods of intense work, as is often the case in cybersecurity in particular incident response, it can take a toll on the employees ability to cope and recharge for the next challenge.
 
Forced breaks. 
Especially when working remotely. As I write this I have 5 minutes left on my alarm before I take some time out.
 
Increase resources
More often than not 'A problem shared is a problem halved'. If you can’t hire more staff, cross train other technical departments but be aware dedicated specialists will always outperform generalists in key tasks. 
If you can hire, work to bring in the very best resource you can. Just because there are more people unemployed looking for work, doesn’t mean they are within the top 25-35% of talent within the industry. 
 
Reward hard work and success. 
Notice when someone is working hard. Acknowledge the hard work and reward accordingly. 
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