For better or worse, productivity is likely the most popular measure of employee success in the western world. When employees complete tasks efficiently and effectively, they’re able to fit more within the workday. And when employees achieve more in shorter periods, companies hit goals faster and, theoretically, yield more revenue.
Scan the self-help aisle of any bookstore, and you’re bound to see dozens of volumes on how to improve productivity and get more done. (And when you scan the business aisle, you’re bound to find just as many books written to help managers boost productivity within their teams.)
So it’s little surprise that when we discuss building a culture of security, one of the first questions senior leaders ask (aside from “how much will it cost?”) is how much it will impact productivity.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at precisely how developing a culture of security will affect employee productivity. This way, you’re prepared to give your leadership team the best possible answer.
What You’re Losing Without a Culture of Security
Before examining what happens to employee productivity when you democratize security across the workplace and make it foundational to your company culture, let’s take a look at what happens if you don’t.
If you haven’t fostered a culture of security, you risk the following:
- Higher risk of security incidents
A culture of security is an environment where all employees participate in protecting the company against cyber attacks. Every member of your workforce is not only educated in cyber risks, but they also help identify potential issues and are responsible for their own behaviors. Without this safeguard, your company is more likely to become a target of cybercrime.
- More downtime
More security incidents inevitably mean more downtime. Sometimes a security issue means one employee is temporarily locked out of critical systems and can’t access the tools they need to do their job (while a security pro identifies and fixes the problem). In more severe scenarios, cybercriminals may take down your network, bringing your entire business to a standstill. Downtime is essentially the antithesis of productivity.
- Overwhelmed security teams
The more companies rely on technology to run every facet of their business (as they have amid the pandemic), the larger the burden placed on security teams. Not only can increased demand lead to employee burnout (which also sends productivity plummeting), but when security teams are spread thin, they’re not able to react as quickly to new threats.
What Happens to Productivity When You Introduce a Culture of Security
Failing to build and support a culture of security threatens productivity, but what about the inevitable roadblocks you encounter from making all employees responsible for their part in preventing and solving security incidents? Couldn’t this have an adverse effect on your organization’s productivity?
The answer is no — at least, not in the long term.
As with any change, making security more integral to your culture will come with its fair share of challenges. But, as all good leaders know, identifying and addressing challenges is critical to growth.
At first, you’ll likely grapple with a learning curve as employees begin participating in addressing security issues. This includes practicing better habits, such as setting more secure passwords, recognizing and reporting potential phishing attempts, avoiding public WiFi, and making better choices about the content and spaces they engage with while online.
But once you’ve made it past this period, the entire organization will be safer. Eventually, security will become second-hand, and people will begin to make better decisions automatically. Furthermore, when each member of your workforce takes security into their own hands, your security team can be more proactive, strengthening your defense against new threats.
In short, building a culture of security takes a little effort on the front end, but will help significantly boost overall organizational efficiency and effectiveness while mitigating risks.
3 Tips for Boosting Employee Productivity
There are a few things you can do to help ease the transition to a culture of security and ensure better productivity from day one:
- Keep it simple
You don’t need to develop each employee into a security professional — they just need to have enough education to correct their mistakes and remain vigilant to new threats. Keep all training as simple and straightforward as possible.
- Ask for feedback
Instead of waiting for bottlenecks to develop, ask employees about their experiences integrating better security habits. What’s slowing them down? What, if anything, are they having a hard time understanding?
- Support your efforts with the right tech solutions
One of the best ways to support your culture shift is with actionable threat intelligence. With continuous security awareness, you can foster good habits, empower employees with actionable insights, and equip your entire workforce with resources and education to deepen their security knowledge.
Building a culture of security is not only a great way to boost overall productivity, but it’s essential for protecting your most valuable assets — your people, your data, and your network. If you haven’t begun making security foundational to your organization’s culture, now is the time to start.