Bad IT security may be hurting your employee retention

Bad IT security may be hurting your employee retention

Most businesses are well aware of the perennial skills shortage and – in a time of relatively high employment and fierce competition – the importance of attracting and retaining the most talented staff can’t be overstated. The financial cost alone of employee turnover is at least 30% and can be as high as 150% of the employee’s salary. 

While some companies are investing in state-of-the-art work environments or giving employees more flexibility, many may be overlooking an important area that can have a big impact on employee retention: security.

Numerous factors can influence employee retention. Chief among these is engagement. However, engagement isn’t a simple concept and any number of variables can affect an employee’s level of engagement.

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“One of the key elements required to keeping employees engaged is to provide them with the best tools to help them do their jobs efficiently,” said Steve Manley, regional vice president, Australia and New Zealand, Palo Alto Networks.

“Business processes need to be kept updated to match the changing nature of the workforce. This can include providing consumer-like business systems for younger workers who are used to managing their lives on digital devices and expect a similar level of intuitiveness and connectivity at work,” Manley said.

“Businesses that provide a frictionless and modern technology environment may be more likely to attract and retain more skilled workers, and become known as a desirable place to work.”

Palo Alto Networks has identified three ways businesses can improve employee retention and engagement, and avoid hidden costs, with a strong cybersecurity approach:

1. Maximum uptime

Poor cybersecurity or inadequate processes can lead to system failures and lost work, which can frustrate high-performing employees. For employees to engage with their work and deliver maximum productivity, they need to be able to rely on systems being available, secure, and reliable at all times.

“Sometimes the only obvious sign that a network has been breached is slow performance. When employees can’t access the information and systems they need in a timely way, or experience lags, they can quickly become disillusioned. Hardening the network security can help prevent this, keeping systems ticking along at speed,” Manley said.

2. Minimal friction

When security measures get in the way of work, employees can also become frustrated. This frustration can lead to unsanctioned workarounds known as shadow IT, which can create even more security issues. It’s essential for organisations to support streamlined business processes with the right level of security so employees can get the job done without being hindered by what they perceive as unnecessarily intrusive security.

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“Organisations need to prioritise their security approach so they’re not spending too much time or resources protecting the wrong things. Where processes have to include security measures, it’s important to communicate this with employees so they understand the reasons behind any delays,” said Manley. “If employees can see that security measures are reasonable and that IT security teams are doing their best to facilitate frictionless work, they may be more likely to accept any intrusive security measures with equanimity.”

3. Best practices

Engaged employees who understand the need for strong security and trust that the organisation has a strong security posture are more likely to feel a personal responsibility to implement cybersecurity best practices, which protects the entire organisation.

“One oz the major causes of cyberbreaches remains human error, so organisations rely on their employees to remain vigilant and take the right security precautions at all times,” Manley said.

“Engaged employees are more likely to adhere to these best practices and play their part in keeping the organisation secure.”

“Organisations that don’t get security right can suffer from high employee turnover as well as the more obvious costs of cyberbreaches,” he said.

“However, it is possible to get security right and create a technology environment that encourages employee engagement, which contributes to lower turnover.”