Artificial intelligence and data science have become the most preferred profession among job aspirants. Other areas such as cloud engineering and data analysts are also gaining popularity. While in-depth knowledge about different functionalities is the core which the employees are mostly aligned towards, the data science industry is not immune to low job satisfaction and high attrition rates.
Especially in the field such as data science which is considered to be one of the hottest jobs of the century, we tried to understand the nature and level of job satisfaction that companies have to offer. We spoke to analytics heads of various organisations to understand their approach to enabling a cohesive and employee-friendly environment in companies. We asked them questions around how do they make sure that employees are satisfied with their job roles, key initiatives to keep the job satisfaction level high, reasons why data scientists are looking to change jobs, and more.
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While this article is from an employer perspective, we have a survey result on job satisfaction coming up soon where we took insights from the data science employees.
Employee Satisfaction At Organisations
It is important to keep employees engaged and satisfied with their current job roles. Venkat Iyer, Group Director, Sales and Executive Vice President at Maistering B.V shares that they do so through frequent touch points and one-to-one discussion. “Employees aspirations and individual goals are always discussed before planning the assignments to ensure the right fitment to the right requirement.”
“Job Satisfaction is a function of multiple factors. Following factors have helped us at BARC India to ensure that employees are satisfied in the job roles assigned to them — cross-functional exposure, freedom and empowerment, exposure to global projects, practises and benchmarks, and more,” says Manashi Kumar, Chief Strategy & People Operations at BARC India.
“Based on my experience, assigning work based on skill set, expertise and one’s liking are few of the key drivers for a satisfying job role,” echoes Guruprasad PM, VP – Head of Business Intelligence at Star India. He also shares that motivation, positive encouragement and making employees take accountability of tasks also affect employee satisfaction. “Honestly, providing a platform to experiment and learn new things is found to be more engaging, especially in this era of constant change in the technology landscape,” he said.
Rohit Tandon, Managing Director at Deloitte Consulting has similar views to share. He says, “We keep challenging individuals and teams to come up with ideas to make their output better and to deliver better results to clients.”
Improving On The Go
Many employers are taking initiatives to help the employees learn and improve during their work tenure. Scope for learning and improvement can be either technology related, business domain related or soft skills related. “Training, participation in knowledge events, team building activities, hackathons, idea and innovation contest are few of the initiatives organisations pursue to improve the factor of employee belonging,” says Guruprasad.
Kumar shares that BARC provide employees with multiple learning opportunities during their work tenure. Such an opportunity to attend and present at national and international conferences, internal cross-functional learning sessions, external training programmes, mentoring by internal leaders, and more.
On the other hand, Tandon has a different viewpoint and says that in today’s world of data science if an individual doesn’t keep pace with new technologies and capabilities, they become redundant. “Smart employees recognise that and do not wait for an organisation to bring these learning opportunities to them. So much is available online for them to tap for free,” he says.
Data Analytics To Optimise Employee Engagement?
Many organisations have found using data analytics to be helpful for managing employee engagement. HR Analytics is on a rise and is helping companies to drive the entire employee value chain – right from headhunting, recruitment, onboarding, to employee engagement and employee attrition. Every facet of employee engagement has been leveraged. Are many companies using data analytics to optimise employee engagement?
Iyer is quick to add that they do use it and have planned to define dimensions such as “Managerial effectiveness”, “Positive work environment”, “Work-life fit”, “Performance management” and the one-one responses, and tagged accordingly to analyse the engagement levels.
BARC has also initiated the use of data analytics to optimise employee engagement. Kumar shares that they participate in various engagement surveys and the data point and reports are used to drive internal engagement processes. “We also do some internal surveys to capture the pulse of new joinees on 30, 60, 90 days. The data received is converted into actionable insights for business leaders and HR,” she said.
Why Are Data Scientists Switching Jobs?
Tandon shares that individuals are learning a lot of their own. “When they find that their organization is not keeping pace with the changing environment and not giving them the opportunity to utilize their enhanced talent they switch.”
Guruprasad echoes similar thoughts and shares that the market for data scientist and researchers have opened so much that everybody wants to join the bandwagon. “The reason for the market opening up so much is due to the fact that technology has enabled the business to make data-driven decisions and perform better. The academic landscape has also changed due to the availability of high-end management programs. I remember, about 30 years back, mainframes and mid-range servers (green screens) were the talk of the town. 20 years back, JAVA was the go-to technology. Today it is machine learning, AI, deep learning.” The changing landscape and technology drive pushes the candidates to explore new avenues and hence switch jobs.
“This field is still at a very nascent stage and many organisations are trying their hand at this. These skill sets are niche. There is a gap in demand and supply. Employees have significant opportunities to explore in the market as per their needs and requirements,” shares Kumar.
Steps That Employees Can Take To Ensure Job Satisfaction
Not just the employers or the organisation, it is the responsibility of employees too to ensure that the job they are accepting is according to their liking so as to increase the job satisfaction level. Iyer suggests that aspirants can do a quick market analysis of the learning curve each job offers and the required skills one has to acquire.
Guruprasad also suggested that candidates should spend time understanding the role better. “A simple question like “What will be a typical day for me in the given role” would quickly summarise the role in more detail.” He also added that at junior level candidate should understand their core skill sets and likings, and take a leap at either building their technical capability or get into a domain-specific role. “The first 4 to 6 years are the building blocks, where the candidate would be able to understand his or her personal liking. Later the candidate can completely shift either to industry domain or technology,” he said.
“It is important to be clear about what they really want. Is it just higher pay or really an environment where they can flourish. Then they should understand the commitment that the new job environment has to nurture their ambitions,” says Tandon.
Kumar says that candidates should definitely ask in detail about the role and its impact on the organisation. “They should also try to gauge the management’s inclination towards data analytics and how it is perceived by other functions in the organisation,” she said.
Averting The Attrition Rate
One of the reasons for an increased attrition rate in companies is the reduced job satisfaction level, because of which many employees tend to look for alternate options. To reduce the attrition rates there are many companies adopting various initiatives and policies.
Guruprasad says that apart from standard rewards and recognition, providing a work-life balance and enough opportunities to excel is one of the key factors that may reduce attrition rates. “Giving free space to team members makes them give quality time on deliverables, having said that, one should know when to tighten the leash,” he says.
Some of the initiatives at BARC to stop attrition rates are career growth opportunities within the company, performance-based rewards, real-time grievance redressal, among others.
Iyer shares that to address attrition rate they focus on employee engagement activities like Open House, Leadership sessions and frequent touch point meetings with the managers & HR.
Whereas Tandon says that people stay if they feel a part of a larger team. “We make them feel that they are a team and they belong. And that what they do matters,” he added.
Finally, High Paycheck or Job Satisfaction?
“Employees should definitely look for job satisfaction in the first place, as this motivates the employee for a long run and helps in deeper learning & helps build expertise,” says Iyer.
Guruprasad says, “Frankly, as a general rule, it is difficult to say if only one of the two options would weight more for Data Scientist. There is always a certain degree of convergence between paycheck and job satisfaction. Personally, I feel it is very situational and one cannot generalise between the two.”
“The satisfaction of a job well done can’t be bought by more money in the pocket,” says Tandon on a concluding note.