How to Retain Analytics Talent

career-pathFrequent turnover of analytics talent is a common issue.  If you plan for it and manage it correctly, it can be a healthy way to bring fresh blood into the organization and ensure the ongoing career development of your analytics employees.  If you don’t, it can be a momentum killer, a brain drain, and a huge expense.

When it comes to retaining analytics talent, there are basically two goals:

  1. Increase the average tenure of your team as much as possible
  2. Have a plan in place for managing turnover.

For the purposes of this post, I will focus on extending the tenure of your current team.  There are a few things that are proven to work on that front.

  • Well defined career pathing:  Talented analytics professionals want to keep learning, growing and progressing.  Don’t force your people to leave the company for career growth. By the time an analytics professional masters his role, there should be a next step waiting for him.  It can include:
    • A bump in title
    • New tools, new problems to solve and/or new data to work with
    • More exposure to executives and decision makers
    • More influence/impact on the success of the business
    • More money… at least as much as you would pay a suitable replacement

Analytics professionals in the first 4-6 years of their careers are usually millennials.  They expect to be promoted every 18-months.  If you can find a way to give them small steps up every 18-months you can significantly extend their tenure and improve the ROI for everybody.

  • Quality of life:  The hardest people to recruit are those that have great work/life balance.  What does that mean?
    • Recognition by management that work is a marathon… not 100 back-to-back sprints.  People should work hard and be productive, but they should be encouraged to shut it off after 8 hours each day.
    • Virtual office… even if it is just 1 or 2 days per week, employees get hooked on flexible work arrangements because they alleviate the grind of commuting and enable them to spend more time on their life outside of work.
    • Benefits & perks:  Give your team something that is very valuable to them, but they can’t get everywhere else.  Unusual amounts of PTO, a sabbatical after x# of years of service and on-site child care have been proven to work.
  • Exposure:  Enable your team to share their successes with the professional community.  Encourage them to attend industry conferences so that they can build their networks and knowledge.
  • Training is often more valuable than money…  if you teach your digital analyst R and Hadoop, you change his career and dramatically increase his market value.  Yes, he may be recruited away as a result… but it should take longer, and therefore everyone will benefit.

If you are able to deliver any two or three of these for your Analytics team you will not only increase tenure; you will also become an employer of choice among analytics professionals… improving the results of your ongoing recruiting efforts.

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