Ways of working

How to attract and keep talent in Data?

Building a work environment based on motivation is key. We explore the importance of concepts such as purpose, autonomy and mastery in a technology-focused company

The current situation of the labor market in the technology sector is undergoing a real revolution. On the one hand, the change of priorities of many people and the search for a purpose beyond the workplace -but also within it-, is causing the so-called “Big Quit“, a process by which a large number of workers are leaving or changing their jobs. Increasingly, people are looking for companies that share their values, jobs that give them more time to devote to other tasks, or working-at-home alternatives. In addition, this change in priorities also affects the company’s responsibility towards its closest community, since issues such as ethics, commitment to society and care for the planet, and greater consideration for the demands of employees are increasingly weighing heavily in the choice of job.

On the other hand, the distrust of investors and the end of easy money, which has slowed down the financing of companies that grow with no assured return on investment, causes massive layoffs in companies to avoid the consequences of the current economic, social and political instability -inflation, war or shortage of supplies, among others-. As if that were not enough, we also have to take into account the shortage of talent in data and technology field and the fierce competition to attract and retain expert profiles in Data Science and Machine Learning.

Faced with this situation, the solution is very simple and at the same time very complex: we have to motivate our employees.

The first and most basic point for any professional to feel motivated is to pay people adequately and fairly. But with this alone we will not have the game won, even more so considering what our professionals expect. Based on Daniel Pink’s three pillars of motivation1, I will tell you the rest of the aspects to take into account: purpose, autonomy and mastery.

The Purpose

Purpose is one of the key issues influencing the decision to quit a job or start a new one. Our professionals need to see meaning in their work. It is not enough to put them to work on something whose purpose they do not understand. It is not enough to keep them in a tortuous cycle without being able to see the value they are contributing to society. It is not enough to create a company focused exclusively on making money while ignoring the current values of society, such as sustainability, equity, justice, inclusion, empowerment or work-life balance, to give just a few examples.

If we provide professionals with a purpose that motivates them, they will associate their desires with a cause that goes beyond themselves. This is a key aspect for the company, since by sharing the same purpose, the people who make up the company will have more confidence in the decisions taken, will feel more committed and will be interested in joining forces.

The Autonomy

The autonomy sought by data and technology professionals applies to several areas:

  1. Work: It is essential that employees participate in the creation of the vision and mission of their activity. When faced with a problem, the people who are going to dedicate their time to solving it must contribute from the initial conceptualization of the solution. If they do not have the capacity to influence, they may become frustrated because they have not contributed their knowledge in the search for a better solution than what has been ordered, causing a deep sense of discouragement. Equally important is that the work environment minimizes dependencies as much as possible, so that their work is not paralyzed by waiting for another team. In this way we get teams with full capacity on the delivery process, which increases their commitment and responsibility in their work. In BBVA AI Factory we want to achieve the greatest possible autonomy by incorporating capabilities that allow us to cover the end-to-end, although it is inevitable to have certain dependencies with other BBVA teams, which help us to comply with the guidelines and recommendations set by the whole Group.
  2. Time and place: The pandemic has revolutionized the marketplace, making varying degrees of remote work a reality in many companies. As has been demonstrated in our industry, we can still work perfectly well even if we are not physically together all the time. This is why many professionals are looking to link up with a company that offers them the flexibility to decide when and where to work, focusing on results and not on presence as a value in itself.
  3. Team: professionals want to choose who they work with. That is why it is so important to carry out recruiting processes involving professional profiles from different positions and roles, ensuring that the requirements in terms of skills are covered but that we also make sure to correctly represent the company and the team, and transmit our culture and values. Both existing teams and new hires need to know with whom they will be working and sharing their time. For the person who joins, these processes are positive because he/she has the opportunity to meet many people within the company beforehand -at least eight colleagues in the case of BBVA AI Factory- and not only the person in charge. In addition, decisions are made by consensus.
  4. Technique: as a team leader, forget about setting the technique they have to use to achieve the objective set. The team members must take responsibility for the implementation of the solution and feel ownership of it, so that a certain commitment to the result is also generated.

Be a Master

In a company that is dedicated to creating AI-based products, the technological environments in which we work are crucial, not only to develop these products, but also to accompany the professional growth of its employees. This is why it is so important to have the possibility to explore with the most cutting-edge technologies and to use technical solutions that are emerging and maturing faster and faster.

Likewise, it is essential to offer different growth paths adapted to the interests of employees, and that each level is defined with its objectives, salary range, responsibilities and necessary skills. This growth process must be transparent and allow each employee to participate in the process without intermediaries. In the same way, mastery is also encouraged by giving professionals the ability to train themselves freely; having a personal budget to dedicate to a course, book or conference to update their knowledge is fundamental. If you also offer facilities to carry out this training activity within working hours, allowing to reconcile personal and professional life, all the better.

Innovation plays another fundamental role. Papers are the bricks with which the foundations of our knowledge are reinforced. Not having a space for research and dissemination of these bricks is like preventing a woodcutter from sharpening the axe with which he works. At BBVA AI Factory we have recently launched an internal innovation program, called X Program, in which everyone has the opportunity to participate by designing prototypes that can become new products. This way of managing innovation has earned us an important recognition awarded by Fast Company, obtaining the Best Workplace for Innovators award in the category of small companies (less than 100 employees), as well as 40th place in the overall list.

Join our team!

At BBVA AI Factory we work to create the best environment for all of us to be motivated. That is why I encourage you to check our Linkedin profile to be aware of the new positions we publish and join our team of data enthusiasts.