Industry Insights

Background image of user typing on a calculator with floating interface elements surrounding them

Survey Results: What Keeps Data Scientists & Data Engineers Happy at Their Jobs?

October 20, 2021

This blog is contributed by our data science & data engineering recruiting teams.The conversation around work as we know it is changing in 2021, and as more data scientists, analytics professionals, and data engineers evaluate their career options, we were interested to know: what convinces someone to stay in a particular role instead of changing jobs?A few years ago, we ran a similar survey to figure out what motivates data professionals to change jobs (which you can read here). However, this year, the 2021 hiring market has been accelerating quickly, with many data teams hiring as well as many professionals leaving their jobs. Because of this, for our current survey we were most interested to ask data professionals what motivates them to stay at a job.

What Keeps Data Professionals Satisfied at Work?

First, we asked our network to share their top three factors with us, from the choices in the list below:

  1. Base salary increase
  2. Bonuses/stock/non-salary compensation
  3. Benefits (401k, insurance, etc.) and/or perks (on-site gym, free snacks, etc.)
  4. Opportunities for growth/promotion/learning
  5. Interesting or challenging work projects
  6. Access to the latest tools and technology
  7. Flexibility (WFH, flexible hours, etc.)
  8. Work/life balance
  9. Good management/leadership
  10. Company culture
  11. Something else we didn’t mention? (tell us!)

We received over 350 responses to our survey, which included a mix of data scientists, analytics professionals, and data engineers. We were also able to dig into the results by gender, years of experience, and individual contributor vs. management.

As one might expect, our overall results showed that base salary increase was the most popular choice with 43%. Three different options tied for second most chosen at 41%, which included good management or leadership, flexibility (which includes WFH, flexible hours, etc.), and interesting or challenging work projects.In terms of general trends, the more popular answers tended to steer towards factors that make a more immediate impact on someone’s day-to-day work life (which also would include things like work/life balance), whereas those with less focus tended to include more intermittent or removed factors, such as bonuses, company culture, or benefits.We also found that a noticeable contingent of the people who chose “Other” specifically mentioned that meaningful work was important for them, which also included mentions of company mission, contribution to society, impact, etc. This lines up with many of our conversations with data professionals who say that making a positive impact in a role can be very important for their long-term job satisfaction.

How Do Job Satisfaction Priorities Vary by Gender?

From our previous surveys, we know that priorities can vary widely by different demographic factors, and, with a large enough sample, we were able to examine some of these differences.First, we split the sample by gender, and while many of the categories had roughly similar response rates, there were two that stood out to us as being noticeably more important to the women in our sample.

In our sample, flexibility was chosen by 57% of women versus only 37% of men. As we’ve mentioned in the past, childcare/home responsibilities tend to make Flexibility/WFH an especially attractive or important factor for many women.When we looked at good management/leadership, this was chosen by 50% of women versus 39% of men. This may potentially be due to the importance for women - particularly in male-dominated fields like analytics and data engineering - to have strong management in place because it is more likely to lead to a positive work environment, openness to flexibility, or to advancement opportunities.

How Do Satisfaction Priorities Vary by Experience and Job Role?

We also wanted to see if there were any interesting insights when we split the sample by years of experience and individual contributors vs. managers. There were a few places where we noticed key differences, which included:

  1. Early career professionals are more likely to prioritize growth opportunities.
  2. Senior professionals tend to find that interesting/challenging work is more important to them.
  3. Individual contributors strongly favored base salary increases.
  4. Managers favored good management/leadership, which could be interpreted as: in order to be an effective manager or leader, it’s very beneficial to have strong leadership and buy-in from those you report to.
  5. In every category we analyzed, base salary was always ranked higher than bonuses. Something for hiring managers to keep in mind is that while variable compensation can be a plus, a base salary increase is almost always preferred.

As we’ve advised before, it’s crucial for hiring managers to check in with their team members and be aware of their priorities at work to boost retention. Different people will have different priorities, so a “one size fits all” approach may not work ideally for all staff and deliver optimum results.For the data scientists, data engineers, and analytics professionals who are currently eyeing the plethora of opportunities on the market – be proactive about voicing your priorities to your manager! Sometimes there might be a fix for your pain points at work if you speak up. If you do decide to embark on a job search, make sure to ask lots of questions during the hiring process (either to your recruiter or during interviews) to make sure that the role lines up with your priorities.Thank you, as always, to everyone who has participated in our surveys or salary research over the years. We enjoy being able to share these insights with you, and it wouldn’t be possible without your help! Keep an eye on the blog for more updates, and feel free to reach out to us if you have thoughts for future research topics.

Interested in our salary research on data scientists, analytics professionals, and data engineers? Download our studies using the button below.

Click to download our free salary reports