What Does the Great Resignation Mean for Data Security?

4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, find out how this Great Resignation may impact the security of your business data.

Saturday, 25 September 2021 10:09

John Awa-abuon

Employees are leaving their jobs.

This time they’re not just leaving, they’re leaving en masse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. If you’ve not had an employee resign, chances are you’ll get one soon, as research by Microsoft has revealed that over 40% of employees are considering leaving their job this year.

These mass resignations have been termed The Great Resignation. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what the Great Resignation is and how it may impact the security of your business data.

What is The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is the term used to describe the massive resignations that appear to have been caused by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

Having to work from home allowed workers to reflect on what their true goals were and whether they were on course. Employees who are in love with the idea of remote work but are being called to return to the office are choosing to quit in search of jobs that offered full remote working capabilities.

Others are moving to get new titles, better compensation, or simply to look for a job that they believe is more in line with their calling.

While the reasons may be different, the common truth here is: employees are leaving. So, how does this all affect the security of your business data? Read on to find out.

What Does the Great Resignation Mean for the Security of Your Business Data?

There are several ways employee resignations can have an impact on your organizational data. Let’s look at some below:

Data Exposure Due to Burnout

When employees resign, most often than not, others are left to pick up the slack. Adding more work to their usual load. While employee burnout is bad in itself, it can also begin to domino into other areas of the business.

When an employee is stressed, the probability of data exposure due to human error increases. In fact, 35% of respondents in a survey of workers in the UK said they felt more vulnerable to cybercrime when they were stressed.

If you have employees leaving, you may need to start exploring ways to reduce burnout and increase employee well-being to reduce the chances of data exposure due to human error.


When an employee leaves their job, chances are they’re moving to a competitor. It’s a no-brainer then that some of them will want to purposefully ‘steal’ organizational data. An employee may choose to leave with customer data, source code, or other valuable IP in a bid to impress their prospective next employer.

Businesses in sectors where client base and extensive networks are important are at greater risk of exfiltration.

Offboarding Process

Every business knows to revoke employee access when they’re leaving the company. However, there exists the risk of an employee’s access slipping through the cracks. Especially when they’re leaving in high numbers as they are currently.

If you have employees leaving, you may want to take inventory of all the systems the employee has access to. Revoking departing-employees' access to all company systems, tools, and apps as well as wiping their digital presence are some ways you can keep sensitive company data secured.

This is especially important if the employee was high up in the ranks. For example, say an IT director or a chief information security officer (CISO).

Well-Intended New Hires

A new employee wouldn’t pose a security risk, right? Well, we wish it were so. New employees who are yet to get the hang of your company’s approved collaboration tools like Asana, Slack, Google Drive, etc., may be exfiltrating data by using non-approved tools for collaboration.

Sharing files via email and Dropbox are some of the most common ways new hires could be exposing sensitive company data. If you’re hiring new employees to replace those that quit, educating and training them should be a top priority for you.

Continuous training throughout employees’ first year is a great way to ensure all employees know what they’re doing, so they don’t expose sensitive company data unconsciously.

What Does This All Mean?

Now, more than ever, the cybersecurity concerns that come with employees quitting jobs have become apparent.

As a business leader, this is a good time to take the security of your business data more seriously. Evaluating data security risks, like the ones we’ve mentioned above, and the danger they pose should be a top priority for you. This will reduce the risk of exposure of your sensitive business data.


About the Author

John Awa-abuon

Freelance Journalist and Tech Expert