There are a few top priorities the cybersecurity industry is focusing on in 2023. Some examples are closing the skills gap, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion, and overcoming ongoing labour shortages. However, another issue is becoming more prevalent for cybersecurity companies and their leaders: employee burnout. What is cybersecurity burnout, why is it happening and how can employers help employees feel better about their jobs?

The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as unique work-related stress that impacts a person’s mental and physical well-being. Experiencing burnout means employees can feel apathetic, less motivated and less engaged with their work.

Cybersecurity burnout is no different from regular burnout, except that it only impacts those working in the cybersecurity industry. Even though most cybersecurity professionals work standard 9–5 jobs, the industry can sometimes demand their attention more frequently than employees in other industries.

Research from Forrester suggests that in 2021, 51% of cybersecurity professionals experienced extreme stress or burnout due to their jobs. In the same study, they found 65% of those respondents considered leaving their jobs due to stress and 73% of respondents had to resign due to burnout. There are several reasons why cybersecurity burnout is worsening. Learn more about each reason and how it’s leading to more cybersecurity workers feeling burnt out.

Constant Threat of Cybercrime

The existing and emerging threats in the cybersecurity landscape are no joke. Employees must be on high alert for potential attacks and cybersecurity incidents, as they can negatively impact the organisation they work for.

Unfortunately, cyberattacks can occur outside the 9-5 workday, meaning there’s a constant threat team members may worry about. Excessively worrying about work-related issues can contribute heavily to employees’ feelings and symptoms of burnout.

Unrealistic Expectations to Meet

In addition to constant cyber threats, the expectations and responsibilities of cybersecurity professionals can quickly become overwhelming. The field is complex and can be incredibly intimidating for people new to the industry. Employees may feel they need more motivation to meet their roles’ expectations, particularly if they’re not receiving any recognition or appreciation from management or the C-suite.

Isolation in Roles

Another factor contributing to cybersecurity burnout is isolation. In the remote work era, isolation is an issue for millions of people. If cybersecurity professionals work remotely, they have little opportunity to socialise with coworkers, especially those working in other departments of their organisation. People who collaborate with their coworkers tend to feel more satisfied with their work, often reach higher levels of productivity and are less likely to experience symptoms of burnout.

Although cybersecurity burnout is becoming a more prevalent issue in the workplace, there are a few ways employers can help their team members reduce feelings of burnout.

1. Use Automated Solutions When Possible

As the cybersecurity threat landscape evolves, so does the technology needed to protect organisations from attacks. New solutions can come in handy if employees are experiencing burnout.

These solutions often leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate many cybersecurity tasks workers would otherwise be responsible for. Companies with burnt-out employees should consider investing in new, automated cybersecurity solutions to help reduce the burden on their struggling staff.

2. Outsource Some Tasks

Another way businesses can reduce burnout within their IT departments is by outsourcing some security tasks to a third-party vendor. In doing so, team members will feel less stressed by their workloads and may feel more engaged with their work.

There’s an added benefit to outsourcing, too — it can help organisations discover talent from a greater pool of candidates. When companies partner with third parties, they work closely with other cybersecurity professionals with expertise in the industry’s current threats. This can help businesses boost their cybersecurity posture and defend against ongoing threats.

3. Ease the Expectations

A company’s IT department is the only department responsible for defending against attack. However, managers must find ways to lower their expectations of their cybersecurity employees. One worker can only do so much to protect their organisation — if an attack does occur, the blame should not fall on one person.

Organisations should ensure their staff members do not take personal responsibility for every attack. This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem or even imposter syndrome, which negatively impacts the company. The ultimate goal for managers is to support their cybersecurity employees, recognise them for a job well done and ensure they’re satisfied with their duties.

4. Train Other Staff to Ease the Workload

Finally, businesses can ease cybersecurity burnout by offering ongoing training opportunities to workers across various departments. When other employees practise good cybersecurity hygiene, it can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety IT team members experience in their roles.

Training everyone on the best cybersecurity practises is something every company should do, regardless of whether their cybersecurity employees are experiencing burnout. This can help boost the organisation’s protection against potential threats.

Prevent Burnout in a Highly Demanding Industry

Many businesses are grappling with employee burnout, especially in the age of hybrid and remote work. However, burnout in workers can negatively affect their productivity, level of engagement and overall performance on the job. A cybersecurity staff member experiencing burnout is also more likely to make mistakes or overlook important details.

In other words, burnt-out employees can open up their company to potential cybersecurity incidents. If you’re an employer, be sure to take good care of your burnt-out workers, as it can bolster your cybersecurity protections and a growing concern in the cyber security industry keep top talent within the organisation.

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