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The Art of Attracting and Retaining Exceptional Data Science Talent

By Tim Stone posted Mon February 21, 2022 06:00 PM


An excellent and experienced data scientist can do wonders for a company’s success. Data scientists sift through vast amounts of data to work hard and find solutions to questions that will serve the needs of a company. They also have the analytical skills and business acumen to help inform and guide crucial major business decisions.

With their in-demand skills and the far-reaching and diverse ways they can apply their talents, it may be difficult for companies to hold onto exceptional data scientists. This can be a problem for companies as data scientists can be hard to recruit and are in short supply. So how can an organization ensure loyalty and decrease attrition rates of exceptional data scientists? To attract and retain data science talent, look at some of the following key strategies. 

Offer work flexibility. Data scientists are often creative young professionals who have the capabilities and willingness to work from anywhere. With the normalization of remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, offering continued work flexibility and opportunities to stay connected will help them feel like valued employees. Furthermore, the flexibility of where and when data scientists build their schedules can lead to a better work-life balance. 

Provide your data scientists with creative freedom. Data scientists sift through large amounts of data and statistics, but, as natural learners, there are strong creative and innovative functions to the work they do. Rather than just assigning repetitive and routine tasks, such as data acquisition and management, allow your employees with creative opportunities to invent and reinvent how your company can benefit from data. 

Prioritize a solid and positive company culture. Having a team of highly-motivated, talented, and productive employees can mean little if the company culture is absent, toxic, or otherwise detrimental to the team. It is vital to build a strong sense of community and collaborative opportunities in data science. Aim to build a working environment that promotes creative problem solving, learning, and development. 

Show your data scientists that they are valuable members of the team. Data scientists wear many hats and can get stretched in many directions. As a result, projects can be open-ended and difficult to actualize, so, the failure rate can be exceptionally high. To show appreciation to your employees, demonstrate regular communication regarding analyses and the understanding of the aims of the business, recognize and share their successes when they develop new models to solve relevant business problems and provide them with data and input to make them better continuously.

Cross-train the data scientists. Data scientists have many talents and skills. Consider cross-training them in adjacent positions can help them explore their interests, grow their skills, diversify their talents, and maintain their interest. For example, cross-train your employees in digital marketing, customer relationship management, or operations management to provide them with the opportunity to develop their skills further in roles that are still grounded in critical thinking and analysis and retain their interest in the company. Employees will see the value of these opportunities as a way to improve their work and as a clear indication that your company is invested in their career progression.

Integrate data scientists at different levels. Data scientists see early on how data can contribute to the success of a business’s vision. Engage data scientists at various stages of a project to maximize efficient problem-solving. Scientists can help predict and define problems in the beginnings stages. They can help troubleshoot and problem-solve to find the appropriate solution. And they can be there to finetune any issues as data models are implemented. Engaging data scientists in the early stages and throughout the project will ensure a working dialogue between crucial roles and steps. It will also increase the likelihood of successful implementation and problem-solving. 

Implement and maintain a robust data infrastructure. When working with data and the movable components of an organization, it is essential to understand that some data science projects are short-lived and will have a high failure rate. An essential element in retaining exceptional data scientists is to provide them with the right tools and foundation. Data teams need access to quality data and the appropriate and well-maintained infrastructure to work with such data. Additionally, data teams need agility and flexibility to produce well-functioning and feasible data models. The analysis and successful deployment of data science require that data teams have this support. Work with other departments of your organization, such as engineering, data architecture, and production, to ensure your data scientists have the right tools and infrastructure. Another fundamental component of infrastructure? Provide your data scientists with an excellent tech support team that utilizes the latest in software tools and technical assistance. 

Go the extra mile in appreciating your data scientists. Providing your employees with company-branded items can make an impact on employee experience, loyalty, and appreciation. Don’t just give away the usual gifts and gear at conferences. Free T-shirts to represent the company can be special if made from high-quality fabrics and designs. A high-density or reflective heat transfer T-shirt will help make your company swag stand apart from the pack. If data scientists see the care your company puts into promotional products, they may sense that the company will treat employees with great care and respect as well. 

The work that data scientists contribute a great deal to a company’s success. Consider these essential suggestions to attract and retain the best of the best in data science analysis to benefit your company’s future.