A recent study by 365 Data Science revealed that sought-after data scientists switch employers every 1.7 years on average. And developers are quick to change jobs also. A February 2022 survey conducted by Salesforce's Mulesoft found that 93% of 600 IT leaders from enterprises across the US, UK, France, Germany, and Australia were finding it more difficult to retain skilled developers and 86% were also finding it more difficult to recruit since the start of the pandemic.
That’s a big problem for financial services firms as business processes are becoming more data-intensive. To avoid drowning in data, firms need to digitalise and become more data-driven and they depend on expert technology and data specialists to provide that capability.
Every data scientist and developer wants to be paid well for what they do but they also need a challenging work environment and to be able to work on interesting problems using cutting-edge technology. In addition, they want their job to allow them to hone their skills and advance their career. Critically too, every working environment should be supported by appropriate cloud infrastructure allowing for easy and fast data onboarding and data sharing as well as the use of the latest open source technologies, that give data experts the creative freedom and processing power to experiment with different scenarios.
Many financial services organisations are still failing to hit the mark when it comes to making the latest technologies available to these employees. Recent research by Alveo in the UK, US, and Asia that focused on ESG data analysis specifically reveals that just 37% of data scientists in financial services firms currently use AI, machine learning and other advanced technologies in their key analysis and investment processes and workflows. This underlines the fact that, despite the potential of AI and its rapid growth, harnessing its capability for practical benefit can be more challenging.
Many data experts working for financial services firms are weighed down by basic administrative, and/or routine tasks. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents to the Alveo survey say quants and data analysts in their organisation have to spend between 25% and 50% of their time collecting, preparing and quality-controlling data.
Even if they are getting paid well for their efforts, most data scientists will not want to work in roles where they spend their time dealing with basic data aggregation and quality control issues rather than inferring new insights and conducting statistical analysis on large data sets. Getting mired in clerical work will prevent staff from developing the skills and capabilities they need to advance their careers and keep them motivated. Integrated data management and analytics solutions together with data modelling, data quality and data onboarding capabilities will ensure staff hit the ground running.
From the financial services firm’s perspective, this enhanced technological capability has to be accompanied by relevant training. It is often a key way of engaging these important workers and keeping them loyal.
That also plays into the need to build a flexible environment for developers and data scientists to work in. This may include offering hybrid work arrangements and giving staff the opportunity to work remotely if needed. Developers, in particular, value working in a calm, quiet location that allows them to focus their attention on their creative work. It is important here to ensure that the home-work environment is secure and that staff have what they need to work as efficiently as possible.
It is also key to ensure that these staff are supported in using popular, widely leveraged technologies like Cassandra and Apache Spark: technologies that once learned by data scientists can become portable skills. For data scientists, the equivalent is likely to be the latest productivity tool, that allows them to get to complex analytics tasks as fast as possible, skipping over the more mundane data collection mastering and aggregation jobs
Highly skilled and trained developers and data scientists need to be given the latitude to work in a way that suits them best. That should be a collaborative process, likely involving brainstorming sessions with colleagues but there should always be an element of freeing up the creativity of your analysts and developer experts.
Financial services firms can further accelerate data scientist and developer engagement by ensuring these employees are able to work on challenging projects with interesting, ground-breaking clients: the sort that pushes them to work hard and deliver to their full potential.
Enabling staff to hone these skills working for demanding high-end clients from central banks to leading hedge funds will help drive their development. As a result, firms can counter The Great Resignation, keep data scientists and developers engaged for longer, build their skills to position them well in their long-term careers and reap further rewards in terms of efficient project execution and enhanced client engagement.
About the author: Martijn Groot is VP Marketing and Strategy at Alveo.
The survey, which polled 9,658 US employees between December 2021 and January 2022, found that 44% of workers are “job seekers”. Of this figure, 33% are active job seekers who looked for new roles in the fourth quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, 11% of this figure planned to seek out new roles in the first quarter of 2022.
The Great Resignation has proven a significant issue for US employers since spring 2021 when the economy began to recover as the worst of the coronavirus pandemic passed and demand for workers grew. In January 2022, 4.3 million Americans quit or changed their jobs, while employers reported 11.3 million job openings for the month.
“It is, by many measures, the tightest labour market ever,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. “Employers are having to play tug-of-war to get half an employee.”
“Flexibility and remote work are becoming more important [...] We’re already seeing that when asked to come back to the office, people are bolting to the exits in search of fully remote opportunities.”
Amid spiralling inflation, over half of the workers surveyed cited pay as a top reason for seeking out a new job. The survey revealed that 41% of employees would leave their current position for a 5% pay increase.
The figure is by far the highest tally since the census bureau began to survey employee sicknesses in April 2020. The most recent survey, conducted between December 29 and January 10, includes employees who called in sick after testing positive for Covid-19 as well as those who have had to take time off to care for others infected with the virus.
The previous record high was recorded in January 2021, when 6.6 million Americans called in sick from coronavirus before vaccines were made widely available.
Omicron’s impact on the US labour market comes at a time when employers are struggling to find staff across all sectors. On top of this, “The Great Resignation” has continued to maintain a steady pace with an increasing number of employees feeling dissatisfied with their current roles. In November 2021, 4.5 million people quit their jobs in the US — the highest number on record.
In recent weeks, labour shortages have severely impacted a number of industries including trucking, air travel, food sales, and essential services such as policing and waste collection.
A survey of 30,000+ workers by Microsoft revealed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Meanwhile, a study of UK and Irish workers by Personio found that 38% of those surveyed were planning to resign within the next six months to a year. It appears that the Great Resignation is not yet over, causing stress and lost profits for many employers around the globe. But what exactly is driving so many employees to change careers, or quit the workforce altogether?
For some workers, the pandemic prompted a shift in priorities, encouraging them to become stay-at-home parents, start their own business, or pursue their dream careers. However, the latest report by Limeade shows that the vast majority of workers left because they were unhappy in their roles.
According to Limeade’s report, 40% of employees cited burnout as a top reason for leaving their job. Burnout appeared to be a particular problem for those working in healthcare and foodservice/ hospitality. 54% of healthcare workers and 52% of foodservice/ hospitality workers said that burnout was their key motivation for leaving their previous roles.
Burnout was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon” in 2019. Mental Health UK defines burnout as “a state of physical and emotional exhaustion”, that occurs when a person experiences long-term stress in a job, or when a person has worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long period. Common symptoms include:
Burnout can have a hugely negative impact on an employee’s quality of work, commitment and loyalty to an employer, and can result in a ripple effect on the rest of the workforce through increased interpersonal conflict and workflow disruption. If an employer does not have the proper care in place to help employees who are dealing with chronic burnout, then the result can be resignation, with resigning employees even encouraging others to follow suit.
Prior to the pandemic, many workers had not experienced remote working. Then, at the peak of the pandemic, offices everywhere were forced to shut their doors and workers were told to work from home. While remote and hybrid working models were already beginning to gain popularity pre-pandemic, the pandemic certainly accelerated this new working trend, and many believe it’s a “trend” here to stay. According to Limeade, 40% of job changers surveyed said they were attracted to their new position because of the opportunity for remote working that it provided. This suggests that an increasing number of the global workplace now expects to work from home moving forward and enjoys the often better work-life balance that it provides.
According to the BBC, poor treatment at work is another major reason behind the Great Resignation, with the pandemic exacerbating already-toxic workplace cultures. The BBC cites a recent Stanford University study which shows that companies with a positive working culture tended to continue to treat employees kindly throughout the pandemic, while many companies with already-established poor working environments doubled down on decisions that didn’t support employees, such as layoffs. This drove many already-disgruntled employees to leave the company they were at altogether. According to Limeades report, some employees were so dissatisfied with the culture at their workplace that 28% of respondents said they left their jobs without having another lined up.
With inflation and the cost of living on the rise, dissatisfaction with their pay packet was another major reason for employees handing in their notice. According to Limeade’s report, 37% of job changers were attracted to a new position by the better salary on offer. In fact, in the foodservice/ hospitality sector, better compensation was the number one reason that attracted respondents to their new roles.
While Moody’s analytics chief economist believes the Great Resignation could be over by 2023, many believe employees demanding more from their employers is a shift here to stay. The pandemic has changed the priorities of millions and it has now become almost compulsory for companies to make serious investments in their workers’ wages, well-being, work-life balance, and opportunities.
“When there’s a lot of people moving, that costs companies in terms of turnover and lost productivity,” points out Ross Seychell, chief people officer at Personio. “It takes six to nine months to onboard someone to be fully effective. Companies that lose a lot of their workforce are going to struggle with this over the next 12 to 16 months, and maybe much longer. Companies that don’t invest in their people will fall behind.”