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How To Retain Professionals In A Competitive Job Market

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By: Shimon Brathwaite

February 11, 2022

Cybersecurity is one of the hottest industries in technology, with an almost zero percent unemployment rate. This means that skilled cybersecurity professionals can find new jobs fairly easily, making it difficult for management to retain their best employees. Cybersecurity has one of the highest burnout rates in industries, with 51% of incident responders and security professionals reporting extreme stress or burnout within the past 12 months. Additionally, 65% said they considered leaving their current job because of this. This article will highlight how you can incentivize your employees to stay with your company over the long term.

Top six reasons employees leave companies. did a survey of over 1,800 employees to identify the top five reasons that people quit their jobs. The findings are summarized below in order of the most common reasons given for leaving:

  • Insufficient pay or unfair pay practices
  • Lack of honesty/integrity/ethics
  • Lack of trust in senior leaders
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Unhealthy/undesirable culture

As an employer, you don’t want to have a high turnover in your business. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and money to replace employees. According to some studies, roughly 75-200% of an employee’s annual compensation. To do this, you need to have good strategies for retaining your employees by incentivizing them to stay with you. Here are six techniques you can use to give your employees good reason to stay:

1. Pay Fairly

The biggest reason that they leave companies is because of insufficient pay. This shouldn’t be a surprise since money is the number one reason people go to work in the first place. One of the best incentives you can give employees is to pay a competitive wage. This goes beyond just their starting salary. It would help if you gave your employees fair wages to stay with the company. It’s well known that it’s easier to get a pay bump by switching companies than it is to get a raise at the same company, and this is part of the reason why they are so keen to leave. It would help if your employees knew that their loyalty and continued good work would be rewarded with a salary increase.

2. Show a career trajectory

Another aspect of insufficient pay is the perceived inability of employees to earn promotions. They want to be in an organization where they feel like they can advance. It’s important to allow your employees to see a potential career trajectory in your company to feel motivated to stay. You should also make it easy for those who want to make lateral moves. Over time people’s interests may change, and they may want to move into a different line of work. Rather than getting people to stay in their current job and risk them going elsewhere, you can help facilitate people moving to other teams within the company, allowing you to retain more employees. For them starting as a sysadmin or penetration tester, there should be a clear progression path to management, director, VP, and CISO for employees who show promise.

3. Continuing Education

In addition to outright compensation, many people value having their training/education paid. Rather than just giving a salary increase, you can incentivize them by paying for certifications, training, or degree programs that would benefit your company. You also want to have it written into the contract that the employee must work at your corporation for a certain amount of time afterward or pay back the money. This way, you are sure to benefit from that investment.

4. Establish trust with your employees

The second most common reason for employees to leave companies is a lack of honesty/integrity/ethics, and the third is a lack of trust in senior leaders. It’s important as a manager that you establish trusting relationships with your employees. If they can’t trust your word, they will not be confident about their future and move elsewhere. It would help if you had a culture where everyone is treated fairly, and people who lie, cheat, or otherwise display unethical behavior should be punished, not rewarded.

5. Non-pay incentives

The fourth most important reason was a lack of work-life balance. 61% of employees in the survey stated they would trade financial compensation for extra vacation days or a shorter workweek. This shows that they highly value having a flexible working environment. Consider offering them these types of benefits or the ability to work from home a few days a week as ways to incentivize employees to stay.

6. Have enough staff

As mentioned above, burnout is a significant issue that affects cybersecurity professionals. Within the study, this was addressed as an unhealthy/undesirable culture. One way to prevent this is to ensure sufficient staff to meet your security needs. Security operations usually require 24/7 coverage which means that they will work 12-hour shifts and overtime on many occasions. If your teams are not large enough, they will be required to work too many hours to be sustainable, and burnout will eventually become an issue. This will greatly increase the probability of those employees looking for a job with a less intense workload.


The cybersecurity job market is in huge demand, with roughly 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally. This means that employees have the ability to move between companies fairly quickly if they choose to. As a manager, you must keep this in mind and find ways to incentivize your best employees to stay with the company. The most common reasons are insufficient pay, lack of honesty/integrity, lack of trust, work-life balance, and poor culture. As an employer, you need to adequately address these within your company and provide competitive compensation packages, a flexible work environment, and a good company culture to give yourself the best chance of retaining your talent.


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