How do the best in the business retain their Data Analytics talent?

Data, Data Analytics Knowledge Share Group, Precision Insights


We recently ran our first Data and Analytics Knowledge Share group in what will be a series of events, and it was a real success! A GINORMOUS thanks to the collaboration of Commonwealth Bank and Facebook for offering a venue and a speaker for the night.

Our first topic was focused on the retention of data and analytics talent. You might think this is an unusual topic for recruiters to spearhead, but it came about because this is a challenge faced by all of our clients and we felt that bringing leaders within the data analytics community together would help to overcome this.

Steve Lockwood (Head of Marketing Science for APAC) at Facebook and long-time friend of Precision was our key-note speaker, and Steve shared what Facebook’s approach to talent retention.


So what questions and discussions came out of this event?

One of the first questions was, unsurprisingly, “….so how do I get a job at Facebook?” before Steve got to the crux of his presentation. Jokes aside, Steve’s content was brilliant and very insightful which resulted in some excellent points and key takeaways.  While the ‘sharecussion ‘was filled with an abundance of questions, I would say it’s safe to say the questions that read below were probably the most pivotal of the night:


If you don’t have millions/billions of dollars behind you, what incentives would you prioritise?

A few things Facebook has in place to incentivise and give back to their staff are; providing meals, travel expenses to and from work, programs providing physical and mental health support systems, massages, gym memberships, data camp on-boarding in California, 16 weeks paternity leave, dry cleaning reimbursements and flexibility in working from home. I’m sure there’s a few I’ve missed and listing all of these are also making me begin to wonder how I could work at Facebook.

However, many that attended the event were from companies who don’t necessarily have the resources that Facebook has behind them to match these incentives. Consequently, you would wonder if you were a smaller company with less money, which would you choose?

Having had discussions with the team and those who attended the main two incentives that would make a significant difference were: meals provided and travel expenses. A healthy mind and healthy body fuels productivity and performance. Travel costs are reflective of the company going above and beyond which makes you feel you are valued and that quite literally, they want you to be coming to work for them.  Steve highlighted that Facebook did not become profitable for several years after being founded, but investments in people were made from day 1, and they have continued to build on these as the business has grown – even small adjustments can have a significant impact.


When hiring, how much weight do you place on technical ability versus the potential the candidate has to learn and solve business problems?

Yes, you do need to hire by technical ability but not solely this. You must take into consideration the potential for this person to learn and how they will adapt to certain parts of the role as well as how they will complement the team. Have they been able to do things in the past that warrant their ability to pick up things quickly? Have they demonstrated consistently that they can solve problems by thinking out of the box? Not everything can be seen on paper.


Is management the only way up for your career progression, how is money linked to this?

It was quite clear across the board that it’s important to give people opportunities for growth that are not management-related so that when it does not fit someone’s pathway, they still have a purpose and feel they have a clear part to play in the organisation.


Our key takeaways

Benefits are great, and company/team growth should be directly linked to employee benefits, but first and foremost; Invest in your mission and values, and hire people who believe in them.

  • If individuals feel like the company cares/they are valued on a personal level, they are more likely to stay.
  • Think of ways to facilitate a supportive atmosphere especially for people’s mental health, so that communication channels are transparent and open both ways.
  • Set clear expectations that are simplified in bullet point form right from the outset of the project, so both the manager and the employee knows what is expected from both sides. When providing actionable feedback, it’s important to be able to not shy away from delivering the good, bad and ugly but before doing so making sure you are approaching your audience in a way that gets the best out of them. On this point, it might be worth spending time with the individual in your team to understand how they like feedback to be communicated before you get to this stage.
  • Clarify the individual’s personal life and career goals and then use this as a communication tool to keep them accountable and drive their purpose.
  • Don’t get complacent on your people management. Always be improving yourself first, to adapt to different people within your team and get the best out of them.


Why should you be involved in the next one?

We have had such a great response from this that we have now got a bunch of topics lined up for leaders in the data analytics space. A few topics that have arisen are:

  • What is the future of technical jobs when machine learning and AI come fully into play?
  • What is a full-stack analyst? How is this modern type of analyst relevant to your business and how are you attracting him or her?
  • Using data and analytics to retain staff? Can big data and workforce analytics help you ascertain loyalty from your staff?
  • How do you interweave the academic with the commercial? Businesses that are successfully doing this are arguably profiting the most. What are the challenges faced and how can the data and analytics market capitalise on this?


If you’d like to be a part of the next event, please get in touch with Precision Sourcing’s Data and Analytics team. Email