IT Best Practices

7 Guerilla Tactics for Retaining Data Scientists

MTBOO (Mean Time Between Other Offers) is a sarcastic acronym that applies to “the overpaid darlings of the high-tech industry who change jobs as often as they change pants.” In the case of data scientists, the MTBOO is about nine months. That means you’ll have to go above and beyond the ABCs of employee retention to keep them. In an article for TechRepublic, John Weathington gives you seven ways to really schmooze your data talent.

7 Ways to Retain Data Scientists

  1. A system of rewards
  2. Optimal flexibility
  3. Appreciate their work.
  4. Walk the halls.
  5. Throw lots of (little) parties.
  6. Build a cool science lab.
  7. A big fat pile of money

First off, you can use a classic Pavlov technique. Don’t worry; we’re not comparing them to dogs. Simply define a desired behavior and their desired reward. Reward them when you observe the behavior. Flexibility is desired by all, but when it comes to data scientists, go a bit further. Give them the opportunity to select their own type of work and their own schedule. This is optimal for motivation. Celebrating their work will also make them feel appreciated, and it’s hard to leave a job where you feel appreciated. In fact, you should “walk the halls,” meaning you should leave that corner office and find out what’s right with their jobs. Ask them to explain how they did such a great job in front of others.

Having a great big party every year isn’t really that effective. It’s much more useful to throw a lot of little parties that correspond to specific team / employee achievements. One technique that is especially applicable to scientists is the presence of a lab. If you pony up for a virtualization monitor or other cool gadgetry, they’re much less likely to opt for their home office.

Lastly, and this one is obviously applicable to just about anyone, you can throw a big pile of money at them–if they’re really worth it. Bonuses help too. If you want to be MTBOO-proof for data scientists, you’ve got to pull out all the stops.

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