Combating the Great Resignation with Great Retention

The “Great Resignation”, or the “Big Quit”, is one of the biggest challenges for employers and professionals in all industries right now. Is it a temporary trend as we recover from the unrest of a global pandemic, or is it symptomatic of a larger employment problem? And how does the cybersecurity industry, which was suffering from a labor shortage even before the pandemic, keep their staff engaged, productive, and happy?


What is the Great Resignation?

For 20 years, from 2000 to 2020, the US resignation rate never surpassed 2.4% of the total workforce. During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, the quit rate plummeted to just 1.6%, with employees plunged into lockdown and either unable to job hunt or laid off by employers. As the pandemic continued into 2021, the number of resignations has been steadily climbing, reaching 2.9% in August 2021, the highest on record. Tech is one of the hardest hit industries, with resignations increasing by 4.5%. 


Why are professionals growing restless?

Many are attributing this employee exodus to the pandemic shifting priorities in both our lives and careers, with professionals delaying transitioning out of their roles until the pandemic eased, requiring more flexibility or better work-life balance. Half of professionals surveyed in ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity Report felt that cyber employees are leaving their current jobs due to lack of promotion opportunities and poor financial incentives, with 40% also blaming high stress levels at work. Stress amongst cybersecurity teams is common, with 91% of CISOs stating that they suffer from moderate or high stress and 57% of employees currently in a burnout state.


 ISACA’s report also cited limited remote work responsibilities, poor work culture, and lack of management support as key factors contributing to cyber resignations. While a small number of cyber resignations were attributed to the professionals’ desire to change career path (i.e. 8% stated that cyber professionals leave their jobs to switch industries), it’s clear that the vast majority of resignations were motivated by working conditions and employer practices.


Another factor driving cyber resignations is the ill-defined job descriptions used in the industry, which rarely reflect the real tasks, projects and working conditions of a role. This results in a misunderstanding of what is required from and expected of a cyber professional in their day-to-day duties, making them more likely to pursue a new role sooner.


After recognizing this, CyberSN developed our exclusive Job Taxonomy to provide the cybersecurity industry with a common language. Our Job Taxonomy categorizes every single cyber job in the US into our 45 functional roles, streamlining job description creation and making roles far easier for professionals to find. This means companies can more accurately portray what it’s expecting from its cyber professionals.


Combating the Great Resignation with Great Retention

The best way to avoid being affected by soaring resignation rates is to focus on employee retention. The work doesn’t stop once the right professionals have been found and hired — to keep them engaged and enjoying their role, employers must commit to improving team communication, developing diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, investing in emotional intelligence (EQ) training, and even reskilling current employees to promote internally. By providing consistent career planning and investing in company culture, organizations will see retention flourish.


CyberSN have identified that all people want the same 7 things at work:

  1. To feel valued
  2. Measurable agreements of roles and responsibilities
  3. Positive, productive communication
  4. A career path
  5. Consistent training and learning
  6. Wage equality with peers
  7. To work with kind, respectful people

By understanding and implementing these 7 things, employers can see improved retention and avoid the negative impacts of the Great Resignation.


A certain level of employee churn is expected. People grow and change, making way for fresh perspectives. However, it’s important to ensure that employees are never leaving for the wrong reasons. The Great Resignation does have a silver lining — the spike in resignations will hopefully cast a spotlight on retention and cause a shift in hiring and continued employment practices, giving the job seeker a more equitable experience and putting retention on the front-burner of employer policies.


For support with employee retention, training, and all things cyber recruitment, reach out to a CyberSN consultant.