Overlearning, Overworking, and Burnout: A Cybersecurity Professional Epidemic
Cyber attacks are a growing concern; cyber criminals are continuously evolving to find new ways to slink into your systems, disrupt your business, and steal your data. Although this has been an observed trend as technology has evolved over the years, things have only gotten more complex due to the unprecedented pandemic and the rise of remote working. While the ever-changing technology landscape isn’t a new revelation, it’s certainly reached new heights in the last two years, making it even more difficult to keep users safe from online threats.
In fact, the lack of preparation for remote workforces has only exacerbated an organization’s vulnerability to the influx of cyber threats and breaches caused by new technologies in this business model. As a result, many cybersecurity professionals are incorporating the concept of overlearning to better guard and protect their companies from attacks.
What Is Overlearning?
“Overlearning” is the process of rehearsing a skill even after you no longer improve. Essentially, it describes the process of reinforcing knowledge or repetitively practicing a skill after you’ve mastered it to boost knowledge retention over the long-term.
This might sound a little redundant or even wasteful to those new to overlearning. After all, if you’ve already mastered something, why would you continue to practice it? Isn’t that just wasted energy?
Not exactly. From a business perspective, overlearning embeds information into your long-term memory, making employees more profitable and reliable team members. From an individual’s perspective, it’s actually a beneficial technique to lock in your expertise on a skill, increase efficiency, and decrease the mental exertion necessary to perform that skill.
Of course, the knowledge retention aspect is great, but overlearning also has some drawbacks. While it helps lock the knowledge in, overlearning also over-stabilizes the learning state – so, effectively, you become resilient against subsequent new learning (at least for a few hours). With that in mind, it’s best to leave any subject you’d like to practice overlearning on for the end of your studying session.
However, the more significant problem is that overlearning feeds overworking, which is particularly evident among cybersecurity professionals who are working tirelessly in this current threat landscape to keep their organizations safe from cyber attacks.
Is Overworking the New Trend?
Although cyber attacks have continuously been a major problem for the IT security sector, new research from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) shows that overwork and burnout are also issues plaguing the industry. In fact, the conducted study of cybersecurity professionals shows that 54% of respondents have either left a job due to overwork or burnout themselves or have worked with someone who has.
While overlearning can lead to overworking, that’s not the only cause of burnout among cybersecurity professionals. Other causes were found to be:
Lack of resources
It’s pretty straightforward: there are simply not enough resources within most security departments to sufficiently protect an organization from threats. In particular, company security budgets have not kept pace with rising threat levels, leaving huge holes for possible breaches to sneak through. These holes become even more concerning during holidays or busy periods when security teams are either smaller or stretched thin. Not only does this pose significant risks to a business, but it can greatly increase stress among cybersecurity professionals.
Lack of opportunity
People want room to grow! More importantly, people need to know that they have the opportunities to do so. Without these opportunities, cybersecurity professionals will start to feel stuck and unchallenged.
Unpleasant or bad management
Let’s face it: no one likes working in a hostile environment. Whether that’s caused by a direct manager or the overarching company culture itself – this needs to change. Otherwise, you’ll see serious employee overturn due to the lack of cybersecurity professional retention.
Luckily, by identifying these issues, action can be taken to combat the overwork, stress, and burnout among cybersecurity professionals.
IIt’s important to remember that cybersecurity professionals are more than just protection; they have to balance a heavy workload on top of relationships, family responsibilities, and squeezing in outside iinterests just like the rest of us. It’s no surprise, then, that they may be super stressed – and that’s not balanced or healthy.
It’s important to strike a healthy work-life balance to prevent the burnout experienced by more than 50% of the cybersecurity industry. To do so, there are several steps both professionals and managers can take.
As a professional, make sure you:
- Take paid-time-off (PTO)
- Set realistic work/home boundaries and expectations
- Incorporate small tweaks into your schedule, such as marking holidays, breaks, and lunchtime in the calendar, so there’s actually an alert reminding you to step away from the screen for a bit
- Communicate openly and honestly
Managers also have a significant role in preventing their employees’ burnout. Managers should:
- Encourage and approve employee PTO
- Work with employees to set realistic boundaries and expectations
- Set a good example
- Be receptive to employee feedback and communication
After enacting these steps, are you recognizing that the resources are stretched too thin at your organization? We’re here to help. designDATA has all the IT resources you could need to keep your company secure, your employees happy.