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July 29, 2019

Restive Data Workers Head for Exits

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In a sign of the growing bargaining power of “data workers,” one third responding to a recent survey said they would quit over what they considered an “unfair” performance review.

Moreover, the survey released by management platform vendor Reflektive found that disgruntled workers won’t go quietly: 78 percent of those polled said they would burn their bridges with an employer by posting an “I Quit!” video on social media.

A smaller percentage said they would even consider exposing company secrets in retaliation for a bad performance review.

While pay raises and perks help retain hard-to-find data workers, the survey notes that employees also want honest feedback without having to wait for an annual performance review. “When employees receive regular attention, recognition and guidance on how to improve from their managers, they tend to be more engaged and productive,” said Rachel Ernst, a Reflektive vice president.

“They often stay with their employers longer and work harder, decreasing recruitment and retention costs,” Ernst added.

If handled diplomatically, annual performance reviews can boost productivity. On the other hand, the survey notes, they can undermine morale and alienate workers. While about half of respondents said performance reviews provide useful feedback, good “face time” with managers and clear guidelines for promotion, a roughly equal percentage said they had been passed over for promotions for reasons not made clear.

The gripes ranged from performance reviews that—in the workers’ view—did not accurately reflect their performance. Others included changes in management and flat-out favoritism. Indeed, the worker poll found that 68 percent of respondents believe performance reviews are often biased.

Hence, the importance of transparent and unbiased performance reviews by companies struggling to recfuit and retain data scientists and analysts.

“Without frequent and well-rounded feedback, bias creeps in, and people become disengaged and consider leaving their companies,” Ernst said.

“Creating a culture of feedback that implements a modernized performance review structure based on data helps to eliminate these costly problems.”

Reflektive commissioned the survey of about 1,000 full-time data workers in the U.S.

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