Over the past few months, Burtch Works has teamed up with the IIA (International Institute for Analytics) to survey quantitative professionals about the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on analytics teams across the US.
This post covers the fifth wave of results, with approximately 100 updated responses from May 26 through June 1, 2020. To better track the extended crisis/recovery period, we’ll be watching the employment market closely and releasing updated information periodically. For the full report, a PDF report version can also be downloaded for free here, which includes more about the sample and survey methodology.
Week Five: Analysis Summary
By the end of May, the number of companies with staffing impacts has nearly tripled over the past two months to 53.4%. It is also perhaps not surprising that large companies are thus far weathering the storm a bit better than small companies.
When we asked what types of staffing actions have been taken in cases where there has been action, by far the most prevalent action is some form of salary cuts, with nearly 80% of impacted analytics and data science organizations experiencing salary cuts. Furloughs (16%) and layoffs (32%) are less common, which is encouraging since those actions are more extreme.
Another high point is that while nearly 75% of organizations have been pulled into crisis-oriented analytics, there remain very few in a pure panic mode where everything is focused on the crisis (1.1%) and that number is approaching zero.
NOTE: As we were about to release this report, the May jobs data report came out which showed a stunningly positive set of results compared to expectation. This is such a fast moving environment that even last week’s data could be starting to get stale. As we move forward, we will look to adjust our surveys to attempt to capture some of the positive trends that are clearly underway.
Impact to Analytics Workload
There has been a continued decrease in organizations being asked to drop everything to focus only on the crisis, and only 1% of companies remain in a panic state as we enter June. About 21% of companies are continuing in a mostly business as usual fashion, while nearly 1/3 of companies are having enough crisis-oriented requests to put a strain on the team.
Impact to Analytics Staffing & Hiring
As the crisis continues, staffing impacts have risen notably. The percentage of those with either some or substantial cuts rose from 20.7% in the first survey to 53.4% this round. This represents nearly a tripling of staffing impacts in approximately two months! Note: The uptick in the “no impact” rate in week 4 was a result of different members of the tracking cohort responding across the surveys.
We also asked those who had seen staffing impacts to provide more details on the action(s) taken. Salary cuts are by far the most prevalent action with 78% of organizations with impacts experiencing them – hiring freezes were next with 38%. Layoffs and reduced hours were both near 30% while furloughs occurred in only 16% of companies. The good news in this data is that layoffs and furloughs are not the action of choice for most analytics and data science organizations, potentially because quantitative talent can be hard-to-find.
Use of Analytics to Address the Crisis
It is odd that there was a rise in both organizations keeping analytics front and center and those not using analytics. This round, 54.6% of respondents felt that at least some executives were not relying on analytics as they should. This could be partly due to the pure volume of decisions that have to be made in a tight timeframe, which doesn’t allow time for the creation and usage of proper analytics.
The fact that 45% of organizations are keeping analytics front and center could be part of the reason why layoffs and furloughs are still the exception for analytics teams. Being critical to navigating the crisis may be helping to insulate analytics teams.
In the last week or so, as this data was being gathered, Burtch Works has seen an uptick in number of jobs coming off hold and candidates fielding multiple offers, which we haven’t seen since early March.
We’re hoping that this is a sign that widespread, negative COVID-19 impacts to analytics teams may have hit their peak with this report, and that a recovery may be on the horizon. Our plan is to tailor our surveys in the coming weeks to reflect a broader spectrum of movement, to better capture a potential recovery. Stay tuned for more information!