Employees are feeling the impacts of ransomware, and organizations need to do more

March 28, 2024
It's a matter of when ransomware incidents occur, not if, so leaders must consider how the stress of ransomware impacts employee satisfaction.

Many tech employees think that there is better compensation, growth opportunities, culture, and work-life balance out there and are on the hunt for new positions. At the same time, organizations are facing economic turbulence and resource cuts, making talent retention to withstand these headwinds that much more critical to leaders.

However, there’s a hidden challenge impacting employee retention: rising ransomware. This epidemic has a direct correlation to employee satisfaction and isn’t being talked about enough. While no organization is immune to ransomware – regardless of industry or the levels of protection in place – it’s a matter of when an incident occurs, not if, so leaders need to consider how the stress of ransomware impacts employee satisfaction day-to-day.

Recognizing the problem is only the first step, and leaders must act now to address the increase in employee turnover fueled by rising threats. It’s certainly a significant challenge for leaders to navigate, but without investing in employee satisfaction, they will only face future snowball effects.

Employees are feeling the impact of ransomware

A ransomware attack has the power to cause significant damage to an organization’s data, finances, reputation, and business continuity. However, the impact it has on employees on the front lines is often overlooked.

According to Veeam’s 2024 Data Protection Trends Report, nearly half (47 percent) of IT and business leaders plan to search for a new position outside their current organization within the next 12 months due to ‘the ramifications of a cyberattack or other disaster.’ Only 33 percent of respondents intend to remain in their role, and less than half are uncertain of their decision.

Noting ransomware’s risk to their professional reputation, there’s no question that these evolving events negatively impact employee well-being, job satisfaction, and company loyalty. Beyond obvious reasons to prepare for ransomware attacks, the threat of losing key team members is a critical area of concern. Creating a consequential ‘protection gap,’ employees reconsidering their current position or those who depart the company to pursue other endeavors will have profound implications.

This trend isn’t likely going away, given three out of four organizations suffered at least one ransomware attack in the past year alone. Attacks will only get more sophisticated and cause more damage, which will certainly impact employee satisfaction in the long term.

Investing in existing talent

Losing skilled employees can make or break an organization, especially when facing an inevitable cyber incident. It is incumbent upon senior leaders to keep their talent to establish preparedness for cyber resilience and disaster preparation. Losing experts puts the organization at a significant disadvantage when a crisis strikes.

Motivating existing talent with incentive programs, ensuring they have the right day-to-day support, and creating direct lines of communication are essential. Employees should feel empowered to voice their concerns, and leadership should be receptive to receiving and acting upon that feedback to ensure employees are taken care of.

According to the Data Protection Trends Report, the lack of new skill development and learning opportunities within respondents’ organizations was the top concern of employees considering a new role. Investing in employee training and learning opportunities is invaluable for IT teams and those within other critical business functions.

Training initiatives help the organization enhance its security posture while investing in employee career development and progression. For security teams, in-depth training on common threats like ransomware can help ensure they have the tools to feel professionally and personally successful.

Organization-wide training can also help warrant alignment should hackers ever try to poach a non-security employee. It’s vital to train employees to recognize and defeat potential cyber threats and explain how hackers use various techniques to trick employees into providing login and security credentials. The most common trick is phishing, but other methods include deceiving employees into clicking on malicious pop-ups and downloading infected software.

An emphasis on preventative planning

A lack of preparedness can result in chaos and confusion should an inevitable attack occur. Leaders should focus on preventative planning to ensure each team member feels aligned and aware of their responsibilities to provide a streamlined response. Backup and recovery plans and incident response plans should be clearly planned and communicated so each employee knows their role.

All plans should specify the steps to take in the event of an incident. Regular testing also ensures effectiveness and empowers employees to respond to threats appropriately, including simulating cyber incidents. Doing so confirms each team member is aligned in their role in containing, eradicating, and restoring services.

To take some of the burden off employees, IT leaders should engage with partners specializing in Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). Surrounding teams with those with experience in ransomware prevention will bode much better than those who take on the task themselves – further preventing the possibility of employees experiencing burnout.

Additionally, relying on partners can affirm that leaders have resources for primary technical support, operational monitoring, and solution-building where human limitations come into play, all while de-risking labor shortages.

There’s also an opportunity to recruit talent that brings new skill sets to harden protection against cyber criminals. Those with knowledge of safeguarding infrastructure from the cloud, Kubernetes containers, and other architectures, as well as new talent, can help motivate teams and seek new solutions to strengthen defenses.

While new skills will allow security teams to protect their data and modern production workloads better, leaders should also consider reevaluating individual and team responsibilities to ensure there’s a fair balance of day-to-day responsibilities to avoid burnout related to the stress of the evolving attack surface.

Employees should always come first

While solutions, training and development, and the number of proactive measures taken cannot guarantee an end to ransomware, they can alleviate pressure on existing cyber and IT teams. With less strain and the onus of responsibility, employees are far more likely to stay motivated, collaborate, cover all gaps, and ultimately strengthen the attack surface against future disasters.

Undoubtedly, employees play a critical role in strengthening an organization’s security posture. This highlights the importance of investing in their success for better results and ensuring that each employee feels supported and has growth opportunities, ultimately improving their job satisfaction and motivation to safeguard the organization.


Dave Russell is Acting CTO at Veeam Software. Dave has 33 years of experience in the backup/recovery and storage management industry as a developer (IBM), industry analyst (Gartner) and strategist (IBM and Veeam). At Veeam, Dave is responsible for driving strategic product and go-to-market programs, spearheading industry engagement, and evangelizing Veeam’s vision for Modern Data Protection and Veeam in the Enterprise at key events across the globe.