Is the Great Resignation Impacting CISOs?

Community Blog
Written by Laurel Hiestand

NOVEMBER 2, 2021

Recruiting and retaining security talent is no easy task. The nature of cybersecurity, with a need to keep up with constantly changing and increasingly sophisticated threats, makes recruiting a challenge – and there are an estimated 465,000 open security positions just in the United States. 

So how does the Great Resignation – with a greater number of employees leaving their jobs in 2021 than in years past – impact security leaders? We conducted a pulse survey in October to find out, and 225 CISOs in Evanta communities shared their thoughts with us. Here are 5 highlights from their responses. 

1. Yes, CISOs are Impacted.

We first asked if CISOs are experiencing greater than normal attrition at their organization this year, and 55% said yes. 34% of respondents said it was “about the same” as past years, and only 11% said no, they are not experiencing a higher-than-normal level of attrition. 

For the 11% of executives who said that they are not experiencing higher rates of attrition, there were a variety of responses as to why: “Great bonuses, and we are offering a hybrid work environment” and “Better work-life balance.” And my personal favorite: “I wish I knew! We’ve barely had any – lower than pre-Covid.”

2. Why are Employees Leaving?

The short answer is competition. When security leaders are asked what they think is causing employee turnover, 67% of CISOs believe it is the competition or other companies actively recruiting their employees. The next closest answer is “fallout from the pandemic (stress, life changes, etc.)" at 55% of respondents.

3. How to Keep Them?

According to CISOs, the best strategy for retaining employees right now is offering more flexibility, which 68% of survey respondents selected. The next two tactics are improving company culture (at 63%) and reviewing compensation (at 58%) coming in second and third, respectively.

4. How to Recruit Them?

Interestingly, company culture and flexibility are slightly re-prioritized when it comes to recruiting new employees for CISOs. They believe that promoting company culture is the best strategy (67%), followed closely by flexible working arrangements (65%). Comparatively, competitive compensation (49%) is a more distant third choice, suggesting that CISOs see the work environment for their employees as critical to attracting new talent.

5. Is There an End in Sight?

CISOs are a bit pessimistic about the duration of the Great Resignation, with almost equal percentages believing that it will last for 12 months or more (32%) or 6 to 12 months (31%). Together, that’s 63% of executives who think the trend will be around for at least another 6 months or more. Another 20% of CISOs say that attrition will remain at a high rate “for the foreseeable future.”


To best plan for 2022 in the current environment, CISOs shared that they are focusing on the following:

Embrace full-time remote work and draw from a larger talent pool.”

Continue to promote a positive culture and listen to our employees.”

Improving our bench, so transitions hurt less.”

Hiring from within and upskilling.”

To learn more about employee recruiting and retention from your CISO peers, check out our calendar of upcoming CISO events, or learn more about the results from our pulse survey here


Laurel Hiestand headshot

Laurel Hiestand

Content Director at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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