Millennial burnout set to cause the next data breach

17 June 2019: Overworked and stressed millennial workers pose a significant threat to businesses’ data and systems, says new research from cybersecurity company Tessian.

In its latest report, Tessian found that 92% of UK millennials feel tired at work, with nearly one in five (17%) feeling tired every day of the week. What’s more, 86% feel stressed during the working week, with 53% saying their workload is either ‘overwhelming’ or ‘heavy’.

Tessian also found that millennials are the least likely to ‘switch-off’, with 66% admitting they send emails on their mobiles during out-of-office hours. Just 51% of workers aged over 45 say they do this.

In addition to serious concerns over employee mental wellbeing, millennial burnout poses another problem. Tired and overworked employees are more error-prone; 77% of millennials say they make more mistakes when tired and stressed, putting businesses at greater risk to cyber threats.

In fact, 64% say they’ve sent a work email to the wrong person, compared to 43% of 45-54 year olds. The ICO reported the number one cause of data loss in UK companies is due misdirected emails.

Millennials were also found to be twice as likely to fall for phishing scams; 18% say they have clicked on a phishing email at work, compared to 8% of workers aged over 45 years old.

Dr Helen Jones, cyber-psychologist at University of Central Lancashire, contributed to the Tessian report. She says, “When we are tired and stressed, we are less likely to question the legitimacy of messages and more likely to miss the cues of a cyber threat because we have less cognitive capacity available to evaluate new information. Also, with so much going on, people will likely rely more on habitual behaviors rather than engaging in rational, analytical thinking. This can, ultimately, increase vulnerabilities to threats on email.”

With millennials set to comprise more than 50% of the UK workforce by 2020, and with workers spending up to a third of their working week on email, businesses need to consider how best to protect the ‘burnout generation’ and stop costly mistakes on email.

Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian says, “All it takes is one mistake on email to cause a breach and ruin a company’s reputation. Businesses need to fully understand the impact stress and demanding workloads have on their employees, find ways to use technology to ease the pressures and encourage millennials to think before they click, at a time when security is the last thing on their mind.”

Read the report to find out more: Why Do People Make Mistakes