This post was developed with input from Bill Franks, internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, and author focused on data science & analytics.
“Quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce – probably more, as latest Gallup poll finds. In data science and analytics, which is heavy with not just bachelor’s degrees but also advanced degrees, it is surely not as prevalent when compared to the general workforce. However, it is still occurring.
The trend toward quiet quitting – the idea spreading virally on social media that millions of people are not going above and beyond at work and aiming to just barely meet their job requirements – could get worse. This is a problem because roles in data science and analytics today require some level of extra effort to collaborate with colleagues and meet client needs.
Following the ‘Great Resignation’ in 2021, quiet quitting has become a new problem area for organizations to tackle. The overall decline in employee engagement was especially related to clarity of expectations, opportunities to learn and grow, and a connection to the organization’s mission or purpose – signaling a growing disconnect between employees and their employers.
Addressing the Quiet Quitting Trend
Build Strong Relationships and Prioritize Communication
Positive relationships can go a long way towards retaining employees, including managing relationships between you and your data and analytics team, as well as fostering camaraderie within the team. Strong communication, transparency, and offering mentorship can all support employee engagement, thus reducing quiet quitting for the long term. For early career employees especially, focusing on team-building or fun activities can build stronger cohesion within the team, which can help make employees less likely to be tempted by other job offers or to be disengaged from their work.
We also recommend that you develop more avenues of communication between managers and their direct reports regarding topics such as employee satisfaction, and drive clarity about how employees truly feel about their jobs. It is vital to document and specify job expectations, so all team members are on the same page regarding workloads, work hours, performance and metrics for success and failure. This is also necessary for remote workers, who need to be effectively managed without reliance on “management by walking around.”
The biggest factor that supports healthy employee engagement is maintaining a clear and strong performance management metrics. That also enables you to identify when there is a drop in productivity or engagement. If you do notice an employee’s productivity and engagement drop, we encourage you to intervene to learn why and then find a mutual solution with the employee.
Data scientists and data engineers want to feel that their work is making a difference at their company. They are much more motivated to work on projects when organizations are eager to accept their insights and solutions, and are willing to make tactical, functional, or strategic adjustments according to findings. According to reports from Gartner and Dimensional Research, the success rate for data science projects is shockingly low. This means companies must work to deliberately enable analytics and create a positive culture toward data inspired decision making.
Work to create an environment where analytics are appreciated, accepted, implemented, and a part of business decision making. Also provide your data and analytics team priority projects that have a real impact on business objectives. This will increase not only their engagement but will also help overall motivation for those on your team.
Strengthen Company Culture and Development Initiatives
Company culture can be analyzed from anonymous employee feedback or internal surveys. Company policies can be softened to accommodate moderate cultural values, ultimately creating a more sustainable environment for the entire organization. We also suggest that you should double the efforts around career development, job training, and the cultivation of leaders within the organization.
There are several ways to build up internal talent for data science or analyst roles, which can include things like encouraging certifications, setting up internal training opportunities, or forming a hackathon. There are several different forms of certification options depending on what makes the most sense for your needs, such as tool-based (Python, R, etc.), technique-based (NLP, computer vision, etc.), or knowledge-based (evaluating how someone understands the concepts of data science, etc.), which can help jumpstart internal talent for more data-oriented roles. Internal hackathons can also be a great way to identify aptitude and gauge interest in data science from employees in other areas of the business.
Remote flexibility is a top priority for many data professionals, and there seems to be at times a disconnect between companies and employees about this approach. In fact, many candidates are on the market for remote-only positions, but our 2022 data shows that the majority of companies are not open to hiring fully remote staff. While some companies will say they can hire remote for rockstar talent, most are still aiming for in-office staff, at least part of the time. In some cases, even employees who are based locally don’t necessarily want to go back to the office after experiencing the flexibility of working from home. Where feasible, we suggest providing the option for benefits including flexibility in work schedule, whether that is remote, hybrid, or in the office. It is all about allowing employees the choice.
The push for work-life balance and flexible working hours is something that many employees are seeking, rightfully so, but it is important for team members to keep in mind that not everything is set in stone. Even if you are a team member strictly aiming to work between the hours of 9am-5pm, realistically speaking, there will be days when it is vital for you to work for it a bit longer, so we encourage both the employer and the employee to be flexible.
There are many people on social media voicing their opinions on the quiet quitting trend. Some employees think that it can be justified depending on the situation, others think that it should be avoided entirely. Wouldn’t it be better if employees were not in a position where they feel their best option is quiet quitting? If you get into a position where you really feel quiet quitting is a relevant option, we encourage you to consider finding a new role more in line with your needs.
As always, if you’d like to talk more about this trend and how this might impact your recruiting efforts, or future job search, please reach out to the Burtch Works team!