Security and employee experience: We can now have both with zero trust

The current security model is broken. According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations report, 67 percent of breaches are caused by credential theft, social attacks, and user error.

ARTICLE | 4m read
September 15, 2020

Many organizations took this warning and focused their security strategy around ensuring secure access to sensitive data, especially for remote workers who may use personal devices for work. However, piling on security solutions like VPNs, virus scans, and mobile management software led to slower app performance and frustrated workers—and, according to Forrester, employees who are dissatisfied with organizational technology security policies are less likely to be engaged at work.

It’s time to end the tug-of-war between security and employee experience. As organizations look for applications and tools that can simplify the work lives of their employees while ensuring strong security, a zero trust approach is the ideal path. Implementing zero trust will protect your sensitive data while giving employees more choice, less friction in accessing company resources, and improved technology performance. The result is your employees can focus on innovation without barriers or security slowdowns.

What is zero trust security?

Zero trust gives employees more choice over how they work

If you want to improve your employee experience, you need to empower workers with choice. Forrester reports that employees with the freedom to choose how best to do their jobs are more likely to be engaged with their work. So, what does this empowerment look like? Empowered employees can choose to work remotely on the devices they prefer and using the apps that they like best. However, traditional security tactics can hinder employee freedom with multiple access hurdles and cumbersome VPNs.

In contrast, zero trust security can better protect your data while empowering employees with the choice they want. It’s easy to give remote employees their choice of devices and apps so long as they follow zero trust policies by correctly proving their identity with multi-factor authentication. And this authentication doesn’t have to be complex—many organizations are relying on digital certificates and biometrics (like thumbprint access) to authenticate users rather than requiring frequently-changing and complex passwords. This gives the employees the choice they want while shifting the responsibility for security onto your technical controls instead of solely on individual workers.  

Zero trust simplifies employee access to information

To enable a great employee experience that drives innovation, you must give your workers easy access to information wherever they work. This can be challenging, because keeping sensitive data secure often leads companies to have strict governance policies about how company data can be stored or accessed. However, prohibiting your employees from using personal cloud storage for work doesn’t always prevent it from happening, especially if your team wants to work with company data on personal devices outside the office. In addition, requiring employees to remember multiple passwords to sign into each cloud app they need for work can frustrate and exhaust workers instead of inspiring them to be innovative.

Zero trust provides the security you need while reducing friction in accessing key information resources. Instead of requiring performance-slowing VPNs or multiple sign-ins to access essential information, a zero trust approach can have employees sign-in once to a secure workspace and access all their apps and data in one place. This means your employees only need to remember one strong password instead of several often-changing ones—reducing their cognitive burden and focusing their energy on productive work. In other words, your zero trust strategy does all the security work for your employees so they don’t have to worry about whether they followed the right access rules.

Zero trust improves technology performance for employees

According to Forrester, of all the factors impacting your employee experience, 30 percent are technology-related. When your employees have high-performing tools that fit their needs and are easy to use, they are more likely to be engaged in their work. This makes it all the more crucial that any security technology you implement does not slow or hinder the technology your employee experience depends on.

Adopting zero trust can improve technology performance across your organization—and with it, your employee experience. By eschewing cumbersome security scans and VPNs, zero trust helps your devices and web apps boot up faster and crash less frequently. This improved technology has a positive impact on employee experience, as, Forrester notes in a recent report, employees are more engaged when they have devices and apps that perform well and can easily authenticate to the services they need.


Forrester Research:
Goodbye Desktop Engineering, Hello Digital Experience Architect; by Andrew Hewitt with Lauren Nelson, Will McKeon-White, Renee Taylor, Diane Lynch, December 18, 2019


of issues impacting your employee experience are technology-related.

Zero trust is your path to better engagement and security

For your organization to lead, it cannot afford to neglect security or employee experience. By adopting a zero trust strategy, you can end the tug-of-war between security and employee engagement and deliver lasting improvements to both.


Forrester Research

Business Case: The Zero trust Security Playbook; by Andrew Hewitt and David Holmes, Forrester Research July 13, 2020