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Balancing Act: Tech Experts Discuss the Importance of Preventing Stress in the Workplace

In a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Stress, 40% of employees identified their role as extremely stressful, which makes sense considering that workers are taking fewer vacation days and spending less time away from their desks.

Working in technology, it's easy to get swept up in the quick pace and constant changes, which can negatively impact mental and physical health. Increasing opportunities to work remotely fuel expectations from employers and colleagues that workers should be reachable at any time, making it more difficult for workers to disconnect outside of business hours. Additionally, workers can find lapses in productivity, creativity and performance.

Stress Awareness Month provides employers with the ability to re-evaluate expectations and relationships they may have with their workers, prioritizing the benefits of a healthy work/life balance in the process. Below, technology industry leaders flag problems within the sector and share advice for combating stress in the workplace.

Stephen Moore, Vice President and Chief Security Strategist at Exabeam

"For CISOs to succeed in today's hostile security climate, they must be able to identify and address as many of the potential pitfalls surrounding them as possible, both internally and externally.  Doing so helps minimize the chance of unwelcome ‘nasty surprises', which often only appear at the most inopportune moments. Unfortunately, many CISOs fail to do this, making what's already a stressful job almost impossible.

There are three most commonly overlooked pitfalls: The inability to execute a swift security response at the critical moment, failure to properly align with senior management expectations, and lacklustre C-suite support and visibility when/where it counts.  All of these can be easily resolved through due diligence and effective communication. But if left unchecked, they can quickly prove a CISO's undoing. By addressing these challenges head on and leaving nothing to chance, a savvy CISO can quickly find themselves as an outlier in the average tenure statistics - and their stressful job will be more manageable," said Stephen Moore, vice president and chief security strategist at Exabeam.

Eric Sheridan, Chief Scientist at WhiteHat Security

"As global cybercrime continues to grow, the demand is outpacing the supply of security professionals who can help combat the ever-increasing threats. Shortage in security means organizations are operating understaffed, and team members don't have the time to train for advanced skills like security analytics. Experienced team members then have to pick up the slack, adding to job fatigue and stress. Many security professionals desire to have a real impact on the world, which makes them become emotionally invested in their jobs, contributing even more to stress. As a result, burnout is a real phenomenon in security and software development. The first step to combating burnout is to identify that it is happening. Second, be sure to create a culture of individual well-being and self-care. Provide resilience training resources and workshops that will give team members the necessary tools to better handle everyday stressors. And finally, build a team that collaborates well together," said Eric Sheridan, chief scientist at WhiteHat Security.

Mark Rogan, DAST Application Security Supervisor at WhiteHat Security

"CISOs are often put into high-stress situations, but the key to eliminating stress while tackling your workload is teamwork. Taking the time to ensure you are treating your team right and that they are comfortable in their job will ensure they put in extra effort, and it will result in better cohesion throughout the company, helping relieve stress. In addition, don't be afraid to delegate responsibilities. It will help increase the skillsets of your entire team," said Mark Rogan, DAST application security supervisor at WhiteHat Security.

Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape

"In today's big data world, organizations can easily be overwhelmed by all of the information streaming into their data warehouse on a daily basis. Data analysts can become easily stressed trying to extract as much value as possible to bring more revenue into the business. Using manual methods to gather and work with the data required for actionable business analysis could take months of effort and is causing too much stress and not practical in today's real-time, instantaneous world. Fortunately, investing in automation software can help relieve this stress by allowing IT teams to gather data and speed up the time it takes to derive business value from it, which allows them to focus on other business value-add tasks ultimately giving the organization a competitive edge," said Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape.

Scott Parker, Director of Product Marketing, Sinequa

"On any given day, stakeholders working at a typical large enterprise may need information or insights from a digital landscape comprised of hundreds of millions of documents and billions of records. This abundance means extra thought and effort required to evaluate the available options and make optimal decisions.  It also means loading the mind with potentially confusing choices, ambiguous phrases, and scattered thoughts, all of which leads to a cognitive burden.

As the digital world grows and becomes increasingly diverse, critical stakeholders within organizations are subjected to a cognitive burden from content overload, obscuring the most relevant and useful information needed to achieve their goals. To address this, solutions have emerged that allow organizations to rise above this flood of data with an information-driven approach. This approach alleviates the cognitive burden and clears the path for new revenue sources, improved service levels and the ability to identify and respond to risks and opportunities faster than ever.

Stress Awareness month provides an opportune time to take a step back to acknowledge the cognitive burden occurring in our organizations and consider effective ways to alleviate the stress that prohibits optimal performance," said Scott Parker, director of product marketing at Sinequa.

Alan Conboy, office of the CTO, Scale Computing

"The industry has a responsibility to focus its innovation not just on creating products which are faster, offer more ROI and uptime, but rather, to create products to remove the stressful, firefighting elements of the job, particularly when IT for many distributed enterprise managers. Similarly, enterprises have a responsibility to make this part of their decision-making process when buying new tech, but how many of them actively consider it?

The idea that technology can self-heal, for instance, or that it can be designed to eliminate some of the familiar complexities of identifying, mitigating and correcting infrastructure problems is now part of the design and product philosophies of forward-thinking companies. The addition of machine intelligence is also helping remove some of the stress IT professionals manage on a daily basis, allowing them to re-focus on tasks which are of much greater benefit to the individuals and business overall. We have taken that approach and it's helping to eliminate stress across numerous vertical use cases - allowing businesses to stop worrying about their IT," said Alan Conboy, office of the CTO, Scale Computing.

Trevor Bidle, VP of information security and compliance, US Signal

"Whether it's data breaches due to human error or insecure interfaces and application programming interfaces, IT professionals charged with maintaining cloud security face a variety of daily stresses and expectations. It's not so much a lack of solutions, but that the threats keep changing, with cyberattackers becoming more sophisticated. During Stress Awareness Month, it's important to recognize a few tactics that can help minimize cyberattacks and their repercussion, which will in turn alleviate the burden of stress that organizations face:

  • Cloud Security Best Practices: While they don't offer guarantees, cloud security best practices do represent tactics that have proven effective for many IT professionals
  • Managed Security Services: Opting for managed security services from a cloud services provider (CSP) can provide access to cloud security expertise and the latest and greatest tools and tactics that many companies don't have or can't afford to maintain in-house.
  • Compliant Cloud Services: If a CSP's cloud services are certified to meet certain compliance standards - such as those specified by PCI DSS or HIPAA, it generally means those cloud services meet very stringent security requirements," said Trevor Bidle, VP of information security and compliance, US Signal.

Jennifer Locklear, chief talent officer, ConnectWise

"It is scientifically proven (just Google it!) that disconnecting from work is good for your brain, your physical health, and your productivity. It is not enough just to take a day off; you need to make sure to disconnect from your phone and email. While it isn't always possible to do that for a week at a time, start small and try taking a break during lunch without allowing any work interruptions.  It is definitely a discipline!

It is no secret that people and businesses are moving faster than ever. Instead of staring at your phone obsessing about work texts and emails, try out some of the available apps to help you manage the stress. There are apps to help you with breathing, scheduling, and organizing that can help you on your path to less stress.

There are so many great new benefits that employers can implement to help their employees.  There are programs that allow for real-time text interaction with mental health coaches so that people who are struggling don't have to wait to make a phone call or book an in-office visit.  There are programs that help with financial wellness and planning for the future. Speaking of financial wellness, paying off student loans is a major stress. One of the hottest new benefits to hit the market is programs to help people pay off these loans faster.  All of these programs can help lead to happier, and more productive, employees," said Jennifer Locklear, chief talent officer, ConnectWise.

Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019 1:01 PM by David Marshall
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