In the high-pressure world of cybersecurity, the toll of constant stress was taking a heavy toll on professionals, prompting Peter Coroneos to take action. He witnessed his peers in the industry facing burnout due to the relentless stress of the ever-evolving threat landscape and knew that something had to change.
Coroneos, a former head of the Internet Industry Association, founded Serenityworks in 2011 to address this issue. He developed a stress management program for executives and offered help to members of the global Cybersecurity Advisors Network (CyAN). The positive results and growing demand for support led him to establish Cybermindz.org in 2022. Teaming up with research psychologist Dr. Andrew Reeves, they developed behavioral programs to combat burnout.
Through national baseline studies and metrics, Coroneos and Reeves discovered that cyber professionals were experiencing burnout at a rate even faster than frontline workers. Recognizing this as a significant threat to organizations, they formed Cybermindz to provide stress relief and ongoing mental health support. Their programs range from two-hour explorations of the neuroscience of burnout to comprehensive 36-month staff retention and optimization plans designed to help employers understand the unique challenges faced by their cybersecurity teams.
For those grappling with burnout, Dr. Darren Webb, a Health and Wellness Coach at Precision Health Coaching, has some practical advice. He has observed an increase in chronic workplace-related stress among cybersecurity professionals, often due to a lack of understanding and support from their workplaces. His recommendations for overcoming burnout include setting clear objectives to create order and focus, looking after your physical health through diet and exercise, and ensuring you get enough sleep, even in the demanding world of cybersecurity.
Additionally, Dr. Webb suggests having an “out” strategy in place for handling acute stress. This could involve taking a walk, chatting with a colleague or manager, or noting concerns for later reflection and mitigation. Building resilience is another key element of managing stress, and seeking the services of an accredited health and wellness coach can be invaluable in this endeavor.
Corporations also have a role to play in supporting their cybersecurity professionals. Dr. Webb reminds employers of their duty under health and safety regulations to provide a safe workplace, which includes addressing both physical and mental health hazards. Companies can promote a workplace culture that encourages seeking help when needed and that values the well-being of employees. This can include evidence-based programs that align with the organization’s values and regular demonstrations of appreciation for employees and their contributions.
Failing to recognize and address the stress and burnout experienced by cybersecurity professionals can lead to high turnover rates, replacement costs, and damage to a company’s reputation. By following these tips and creating supportive workplace environments, organizations can help their cybersecurity teams thrive in the face of constant challenges.