A Marketplace Tech podcast episode, Cybersecurity Professionals Face Burn Out, and a subsequent thread on Twitter discussing it further have been on my mind for quite some time. The episode speaks to the cybersecurity community’s poor management and burnout. Various topics were discussed, but the discussion revolved around cybersecurity professionals feeling overworked and undervalued.
When analyzing a problem, I frequently take on the other person’s role and imagine what I would do in that situation. Let’s play that out here, and it will show why I think this trend is even more baffling.
For purposes of this game, let’s pretend I’m a senior leader in cyber (or any industry) and care only about bottom-line results. I don’t care about my people. I don’t care about my customers. I only care about the numbers. This is often the root cause of these challenging employer/employee relationships.
Here’s where I think so many are misguided. In the scenario above, do you want to know what I would do to achieve those financial goals? I would take good care of my employees because I know a highly engaged, motivated workforce is the fastest path to profitability. With profit as the only motivation, I would realize this is the quickest and most efficient path to those financial goals. Obviously, there are many nobler reasons to engage in this strategy outside of profit. However, even if you ignore those nobler reasons, the bottom line indicates it’s still the best approach.
The Turnover Cost
Let’s dive into why I feel that way (the apparent reason would be that it’s the right thing to do, but we’re ignoring that since, in our role-play, I’m a narcissistic, profits-only motivated cretin).
The first is the expense of replacing employees. I can easily make the case that the actual cost to an organization for turnover is more than $100,000 per employee. When you add the cost of recruiting (mainly if you hire outside help), the lost productivity, and the time required to onboard a new employee and get them to the point of productivity, $100,000 seems low, if anything. If I only care about profit, those six-figure bills will quickly chip away at my profit.
The next is productivity. Which employee do you think works harder and produces better quality work, the employee who loves their job? Or the employee who dreads Monday mornings and spends as much time perusing job openings as they do working?
The last point is customer retention and satisfaction. Like employees, it’s expensive to lose customers and acquire new ones to offset that loss. If your employees are engaged and motivated, they will deliver higher levels of service to your customers and be evangelists for the organization. Alternatively, if they disdain the organization, that will come through loud and clear to the customer.
The term “win-win” is frequently abused (most commonly because the person using the phrase means I win, you lose), but this is such a clear case of a true win-win that I’m amazed more organizations haven’t figured this out. Think about it:
- The company makes more profit because they get higher quality work from their employees, and expensive turnover is low
- The employees enjoy a positive work experience, feel appreciated and rewarded for their work
- The customers see the benefit of a well-run organization with high employee satisfaction. As a result, customer retention and loyalty increases.
Positivity Leads to Profits
So many people seem to think that profits and employee happiness are inversely related. I would argue that you cannot sustain higher profits without a positive employee experience. You might have a short burst in profit by pushing people to the breaking point, but you’ll never maintain those profits, and it’s a very short-sighted approach, in my opinion.
I’ve been fortunate to work for a few companies (including Nexum) that get this right, and I’ve seen the results first-hand.
Connect with me on LinkedIn, and let’s discuss this further.