In a recent blog post by NovaStor, they mention the idea that stressed out employees pose a risk to your data. On the surface, you can probably see what they’re talking about. From the examples in their latest blog, I wanted to dig a little deeper into this particular problem and see if we can’t explore what other companies are doing to mitigate some of that stress. Stressed out employees create risk – there’s no doubt about it.

Imagine last summer, I was telling you there would be wildfires, a global health crisis and civil unrest, all before the first half of the year. I know – that kind of statement is overblown by standup comics and blog writers alike. But, it’s got some truth in there too. It’s been a crazy year so far.

In our travels, we head out to office environments all over the province. We interact with managers, receptionists, truck drivers and fast food drive-thru cashiers – a wide range of humans. We’re seeing the same thing you are. There is stress lingering in the air like never before, thick as a humid day.

When your employees come to work, they bring with them the baggage they accumulate at home. We might write policies that restrict such things, but the fact of the matter is that our co-workers are only humans. Instead of trying to limit what our employees are allowed to feel, we might do better trying to adapt strategy to help them feel better.

What is OODA Loop?
The OODA Loop

Understanding a simple decision making process is a useful tool to helping your staff navigate stressful times. It requires a simple thought process that piggybacks on a feedback loop to measure your decisions. In this way, it removes some of the stress of making business decisions because the feedback you receive in turn from your decision helps maneuver to the next decision that needs to be made.

In an OODA loop, you are presented with a decision that needs to be made. The first (and most critical step) is to detach yourself from the problem and observe. Try to take a step back and view the problem, even if for a second or two, from a higher elevation. See the potential hinges in what has caused this problem to arise, watch the effect on your co-workers and leadership.

Next, orient yourself. After you have collected the external data surrounding the problem, you can run some analysis on your course of action. This process in and of itself can be very rapid if need be. Find your course based on the information you’ve taken in during your observation. Like a lighthouse in the distance, figure out where you are in relation to where you want to go.

The decide step of an OODA loop determines what you’re going to do. You have watched the situation develop. You have steered yourself toward the best result. Now – what are you going to do to get yourself there?

Create a plan of action.

Now, execute. Act in the OODA loop is the final step – it’s where you develop an action plan. This is the time to dictate how you’re going to do what you’ve decided you’re going to do.

Stress is risk.

When an employee enters your environment packing along the stress of their personal life, their focus will inherently be shifted. When an employee’s focus is otherwise attached elsewhere, I see two common and under-emphasized risks.

Overall, I’d say the most risk a company could incur from a stressed-out employee would come from that person’s attention shift. A malicious agent could craft an email that might otherwise not look ‘perfect’ to the unsuspecting front desk receptionist. After injecting a little stress, however, it might look passable enough to warrant an investigative click. Perhaps a bad actor would mimick a law office with a virus-ridden .pdf masked as a lawsuit. Maybe the attacker would offer a link to a look-alike Facebook page, trying to harvest your company’s credentials.

Your company’s very first line of defense – before the firewall and anti-virus client – is your staff. When people are at work, they should be ‘switched on’ to common attack platforms and understand the real-world risks of clicking on mistaken or tricky links.

The answer for that is easy – training. If you want us to run a free cyber security workshop, contact us.

Second, I see an increase in honest mistakes when people are stressed out. When looking at corporate risk factors, we too often assume they come from evil hackers in black hoodies. Sometimes, if you’re moving too quickly or with added burden, you just make a mistake.

Without a proper backup platform, mistakes can lead to lost data. Lost data – especially in mission critical systems – can be catastrophic.

Our backup strategy advice is backed on the industry standard ‘321 rule’. You should have 3 copies of your critical data in 2 physical locations with 1 of them being off-site.

Thankfully, we’ve partnered with NovaStor to build out our business data backup service. The real benefit behind a managed backup service is not having to actually do the ‘work’ of controlling your backups by yourself. That’s where we come from, after all – our company name used to be ‘Backupserver’.

Company culture, policy and being a good human can help mitigate stress in the workplace. Your primary function as a business owner, however, should be creating a failover plan for instances where your best bets still fizzle and the stress gets through.