The Great Resignation isn’t cooling off, and the cybersecurity sector is still feeling the effects of the phenomenon more than two years later. Research published late last year from BlackFog found that almost a third of U.S. and U.K. cybersecurity leaders are considering leaving their security jobs for a myriad of reasons, including lack of work-life balance and strategic focus. That’s on top of the growing global cybersecurity talent shortage.
So, with more employees looking to make a change, how can organizational leaders both encourage their cybersecurity staff to stay with them and attract new talent to manage the rising number of breaches and attacks on businesses? By providing a mission-driven workplace that people feel not only excited to be a part of, but financially and personally valued at.
Here’s what I mean when I say that a mission-driven company will retain their staff far more than a company without a unifying principle to stand behind. Employees want to feel inspired when they log on or enter the office every day to contribute to something bigger than themselves, whether it’s protecting their own company or their customers.
Companies with teams of employees that are engaged and take ownership of their duties, rather than treating their job as a list of things to do before they can leave, will cultivate much stronger and more enticing cultures than their competitors, providing them with comparative advantages in retention and attracting new talent. Essentially, employees want to work at places where they feel they can make a difference, and recent research into workplace satisfaction has verified that. A study from LinkedIn revealed that companies with employees who rated their workplaces highly on having a “purposeful mission” experienced attrition rates 49% lower than companies that didn’t, and new grads entering the workforce are also more likely to seek out businesses that they feel excited about outside of the office.
Invest in your employees with more than money
So, employees want to feel like they’re part of something bigger, but they also need to be compensated fairly for their time, both financially and from a work-life balance perspective. Cybersecurity careers generally pay well across the board, but the difference between a company that’s able to retain and attract talent and one that doesn’t is often the company’s willingness to let their employees grow within their roles. Outside of offering market-beating salaries and annual raises or stock incentives, employees will stay at a company where they feel they have the best opportunity to learn new skills, put them to use and influence the success of the business overall, from a first-year analyst to an executive in a boardroom.
Fostering a culture of growth can look different in various companies. One way to energize employees is to have recognition programming built into your culture, where staff that go above and beyond are lauded and shown public or private appreciation, depending on their personal preference, for their performance with motivating incentives. Hosting competitions between teams can both boost morale and allow your staff to flex their technical muscles, without having to shell out extra costs or launch new campaigns. But neither of those programs are as effective or have as long-lasting benefits to employee retention as investing in training and career development programs. In fact, 87% of employees surveyed last year said they’d highly value a potential employer having a strong skills development program. Meanwhile, companies that excel at internal mobility — promoting and teaching staff new skills internally — retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as long than companies that struggle with it.
Prioritize personal values
Above all, though, professionals in the job market or thinking about leaving their current role just want to be treated well as human beings. Cybersecurity is a stressful job with long hours and virtually no “slow” days to speak of, and as an industry, has been historically dominated by a small subset of college-educated men. With those factors in mind, organizational leaders must be purposeful in their workplace culture-building efforts to foster inclusivity and a sense of belonging among all employees, not just those who look like them or come from a similar background.
In practice, this can look like ensuring that company events or parties are accommodating to people with different levels of accessibility, dietary restrictions, beliefs or even religions. Acknowledging different holidays and milestones for each employee can create a sense of camaraderie among staff who may not have much in common outside the workplace.
Managers can make a difference by taking the time to understand and get to know those who report to them as people, not just value-creators for the company. It sounds simple, but leaders who focus on developing a bond and trust with their colleagues as people set themselves up for success in the future more so than those who only value their coworkers based on their work. Retaining and attracting talent is a constant challenge as the job market shifts and new additions to the workforce introduce new expectations for their careers, but there are a few strategies that leaders can always fall back to make their workplace as attractive as possible.