“So, what’s your notice period?”
The standard question that comes up in every interview. In Australia, there are minimum required notice periods that need to be given from either employer or employee, based on the years of continuous service by an employee. Beyond this minimum amount, an organisation can request a longer notice period within an employment contract. Generally speaking, four weeks (outside of any probation period) is the timeframe most people know as the norm.
However in many senior, or Executive level positions, including within the cyber security industry, it is not uncommon for these notice periods to stretch out to three - sometimes even six - months.
As you progress through your career in cyber security, what benefits or disadvantages do these longer notice periods hold? Similarly, as an employer, are there increased risks in asking employees to stay on for these additional lengths of time?
Pros of long notice periods
- For employers, having longer to find a replacement for the incumbent employee is a significant benefit, especially in senior roles where the recruitment process and negotiations tend to take more time. Additionally, a preferred candidate may also have a longer notice period at their current organisation, and this helps minimise any gaps in the role being filled.
- A longer notice period also gives more time for a handover and to extract as much important, valuable subject matter that the outgoing employee may have.
- For employees wanting to resign (or being dismissed/made redundant) without another position to go to, a longer notice period allows time to search whilst still employed and receiving a salary (and accruing leave entitlements).
Cons of long notice periods
- The more senior the employee is, and generally the more access they have to sensitive company information, the greater the risk of data breach (inadvertently or otherwise). In the case of cyber security employees, this is highly unlikely given their profession in part entails working to reduce this risk, it does highlight the need for robust off-boarding procedures across organisations
- Our previous article What Security Threats Does the “Great Resignation” present? looks at both data theft and accidental exposure in this context, and how the vulnerabilities surrounding the new ways of working can significantly impact a business.
Employee morale and productivity
Generally as an employee is winding up their role, motivation/productivity naturally decline (even in situations where there is no ill will towards either party). This disengagement can have a flow on effect to other employees, and overall workflow.
- The main disadvantage for employees, other than ‘being stuck’ in an old job, is the risk of not getting offered a new role because they are unavailable to start as soon as other candidates.
- It is also not uncommon for senior roles, particularly those that deal in sensitive information like cyber security, to have non-compete clauses in their contract. Having a longer notice period further extends their inability to find work within a similar market or competitor.
How to Navigate Extended Notice Periods
- In many cases it will simply be that the employee serves out the longer notice period before parting ways with an organisation, all on good terms.
- In some situations however, it may be better to pay an employee time in lieu of notice, often known as ‘gardening leave’. This reduces risk to the organisation, but is offset by no benefit in terms of output for that period (however generally the risk cost is seen as much greater).
- There have been some instances, such as in Singapore, where companies allow for their employees who resign to shorten their notice periods by giving the future employers the right to “buy out” some of the notice period.
- If an employee is in a position where they have been offered a new role elsewhere, they may be able to negotiate using any accrued annual leave to shorten their notice period (with the understanding that they won't then have these days paid out in their final pay).
As we have touched on, there are benefits and disadvantages to extended notice periods. Regardless of which side of the employment fence you sit on, it is imperative to know what the contracted notice period is for a particular role, for both incoming and outgoing employees.
In an ideal world, organisations will consider these notice periods (whether they are losing a staff member, or looking at a prospective candidate) and find a reasonable middle ground that benefits both parties - whilst reducing any risk and making sure they don’t miss out on getting the best person for the job. Further, the onus falls on employers and employees to keep communication open and transparent in order to work towards a satisfactory outcome.
If you’d like any more information about recruiting or retaining top cyber security talent, or if you’re looking for your next cyber security role, get in touch with the Decipher Bureau team. With offices across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and an experienced team around the world, we’d love to help you out.