Cengage Learning

  www.cengage.com
  www.cengage.com

Cengage Learning Reviews

Updated November 23, 2014
Updated November 23, 2014
432 Reviews
3.3
432 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Cengage Learning CEO Michael Hansen
Michael Hansen
205 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The company culture allows for some work flexibility to have a great work-life balance (in 56 reviews)

  • Great work-life balance with work from home 2 days per week (in 15 reviews)


Cons
  • Upper management at MS needs to get on board with what our CEO is trying to do (in 37 reviews)

  • Company appears to be moving towards less flexibility with work-from-home arrangements (in 15 reviews)

More Highlights

114 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. 16 people found this helpful  

    Some good here, but things have gone sour

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Managing Editor in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Managing Editor in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Cengage Learning is a decent place to work. There are many good people there who are genuinely into what they're doing. The new(ish) executive team led by Michael Hansen has been encouraging innovation and "outside of the box" thinking to create game-changing digital products for the higher education market but, unfortunately, the Product teams are not well-equipped to comprehend what developing truly good digital products actually entails from a cost, resource, and time perspective.

    The benefits at Cengage are generally quite good and there are some nice perks given to employees (tickets to ballgames, company outings/parties, etc.). All in all a solid company to work for as far as big educational publishing houses go, and if you can stomach the low publishing industry salaries.

    Cons

    The culture at Cengage (at least in the Higher Education division) can be very political and when things go wrong there is often a lot of finger pointing. Some of the General Managers and/or Product Managers are not afraid to throw other people (or entire teams) under the bus to make themselves look better or to grab more power and control. And there are too many people calling the shots on the Product teams who have little actual knowledge and experience in developing good quality digital products, which results in more crummy digital products that only aggravate the customers. Hopefully the addition of some newly created technical positions will help to change that, as the company is still too much in the old textbook publishing mindset even though upper management repeatedly says Cengage Learning is a "technology" company.

    There is also an element coming down from the Executive team about "total accountability" of the Product Managers/Owners for the success of their products that, in my opinion, only works to create a sense of fear amongst the employees because too many are panicked they are going to lose their jobs if a mistake is made or a product isn't delivered on time or underperforms. There is even one member of the executive team who seems to revel in this sort of fear-based bully tactics management style. While such an approach may get some results in the short term I don't think it can be healthy for the corporate culture over the long-term. Coupled with a recent crackdown on flexible and work-from-home hours, the culture is becoming increasingly less worker-friendly. Additionally, groups or divisions within Cengage that have, or try to, create their own culture are stifled and told to get in line with the "Cengage culture."

    There were also no bonuses for a couple of years before the bankruptcy filing in 2013 and the company's new bonus plan pays less and applies to far fewer employees.

    NOTE: My scores for "Culture & Values" and "Work/Life Balance" would have been higher had I written this three years ago.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you really want to be a technology company that creates truly dynamic and useful products, and not just a textbook publishing company, then keep looking to fill your Product teams with actual tech people who understand digital content and how to develop it and who appreciate the importance of good design and UX. And hire more engineers who can effectively implement the product vision. There are still too many of the same old-school textbook folks there who are calling the shots but who don't truly understand what an effective digital product is or how to develop it.

    And back off on the crackdown on flex-time and work-from-home hours. It's only making people miserable. It's not like employees were working from home that much in the past. It was usually just a day or two per week at most.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 11 people found this helpful  

    Unclear Direction, feels like working for a non-profit.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    * Good Location
    * Good Co-workers
    * Some interesting projects to work on.
    * Some work flexibility in terms of hours or work-from-home options, but company trying to move away from that.

    Cons

    * We are trying to be an Ed Tech company, but salaries still seem based on publishing standards. I couldn't find a qualified employee for an open position that also would accept the salary we were offering.

    * My yearly bonus is not tied to how successful my product is - but how the company does as a whole. So, even if your team works hard to make a successful release cycle, we end up with the same bonus as everyone else.

    * Our merit increases are not incentivizing. With our yearly merit increases ranging from 1-2%, our yearly goals have no really impact on anything. Even if you exceed or greatly exceed your annual goals, merit increases aren't allowed to exceed the 2% company average (e.g., the increase you get for just doing your job). In my group, there is also no clear pathway for career advancement beyond waiting for someone to leave.

    * Our strategies seem unclear more often than not - we're either working at a break-neck speed to hit an aggressive deadline (because the strategy was figured out so late in the game) or we're waiting for a strategy and told to 'enjoy the downtime'. I'd much rather that we're working at a more even pace, rather than these peaks and valleys.

    * There seems to be a lot of siloing of group - despite the corporate idea of encouraging collaboration. So, the product management team will set up strategies without any of the insight of the content developers - who, at least in my group, have an extremely in depth knowledge of the content. In one case, when the content team was eventually informed of the strategy, we pointed out a pretty significant structural hurtle in the plan that left the product team scrambling to come up with something new. While we've been told that we're just content developers and we should let the product managers sink/swim based on strategy, I wish we were encouraged to help the whole group succeed - even if that means acting outside our traditional roles.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    While this might just be my group, there doesn't seem to be a clear path forward - both in terms of our products and in terms of personal development. We need to be incentivized in a real way for our individual contributions. Salaries must be adjusted to allow us to recruit the employees we need to move forward - rather than the employees we've had in the past. While we're moving towards being an Ed Tech company, don't forget that lousy content will sink even the best delivery system - so remember to continue to value the insight/experience of your content developers and authors.

    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Cengage Learning Response

    Nov 21, 2014CEO

    Thanks for this detailed feedback. I agree on several points.

    First, I believe strongly that compensation should be market competitive. Returning to role-based incentive plans for a number of
    ... More

  3. 11 people found this helpful  

    Something is wrong

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    good benefits, fairly good work atmosphere, flexibility

    Cons

    hard to advance, especially if you are a woman

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I've worked at Cengage a LONG time. And I've been pretty happy here for the most part. But it think there are some things that need to be addressed, so I'm posting here.

    First off, increases..although I'm happy I received an increase, the minimal amount that was allocated to each employee did not even cover the cost increase of my health benefits for my family. YET, spot bonuses for individuals are a-plenty, And things like Management "team-building" trips are planned to Kiawah Island for all the people that already make MORE than enough money. Something is wrong there.
    Second: I think the opportunities for women in the IT departments in Cengage are very limited. I don't think women are treated equally or given the same opportunities.
    Third: I think we are Mgt heavy.. too many chiefs and too much brown nosing.

    Overall I like Cengage. I like what I do. But it's changed a lot in the 15+ years I've been here. I used to feel part of a team, and I used to feel respected as an measley employee. I struggle to find that now days.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. 10 people found this helpful  

    Mixed experience, bad time to be in this industry.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Learning Consultant in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Learning Consultant in Boston, MA

    I worked at Cengage Learning full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Friendly supportive culture, mostly positive relationships with colleagues. For a learning consultant this is a mostly positive environment. Not cutthroat - you can make friends here.

    Cons

    Organizationally a disorganized mess. Lack of structured training. Cengage needs many institutional changes to make processes more streamlined and organized so employees do not get overwhelmed just trying to do their jobs and become overwhelmed with basic duties that should be more operationally smooth. The Sales division could really benefit from a consultant coming in to streamline processes and organize the chaos. Company wants to be supportive but in many ways falls short. Bad time to be in this industry as digital is the way to revenue in the future and our customers generally do not see the value in digital. eCommerce taking a huge hit to our business which makes hitting sales numbers very challenging. Lack of branding/cohesion in digital makes selling very difficult - recognition of competitor's products is greater, even if our product is superior the customer doesn't know about it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Allow slower pace during slow months since LCs are so overworked the academic year - do not create unnecessary busy work during these slow months. Reevaluate lower management's ability to motivate and manage. Reconsider salary/bonus structure - base salaries at the company are low comparatively and "all or nothing" bonus structure becomes unmotivating.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 5 people found this helpful  

    Let the Content Be Your Guide

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Content Developer in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Content Developer in Boston, MA

    I have been working at Cengage Learning as a contractor (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    The people who produce the products, print or digital, are top notch, smart, hard-working and savvy about the various markets their products address. I don't think I have ever worked with a better bunch of people. Had I met them socially, I would want to hang out with them just for the pleasure of it. But the important thing is, they know a lot about the educational market and seem to care deeply about the students whose needs they address.

    Cons

    I think on the management end, there is a huge disconnect between their vision of the digital products they want to see produced at top speed and the content they contain, funneled largely from the existing textbooks,( although you would never know it from the company's PR, which talks about "content" "authoritative content," and "the learning path.")

     I believe the company should slow down in terms of its desire to be a technology company NOW and really work out how they want to bring digital products to market and how good those products need to be in terms of content, design format and usability. Right now I'm seeing my content become overly complex and garbled in its digital form.

    The whole "this is software and we can bring out various iterations FAST, which can then be improved," doesn't hold water when an instructor watches a student fumbling to figure out how to get to the screen he or she needs in order to answer questions or complete an exercise. The instructor won't care what iteration the product is. He or she just won't buy it again if its hard to use and not meeting clear learning goals. Even worse, the word of mouth on the product will be bad. I actually think this is happening with MindTap already and it's too bad, because this product has legs and has the potential to be fabulous.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Slow down on the schedules for producing digital products. Hire more gifted software engineers and let them work closely with the the gifted people in editorial (and while you are at it, hire a few more of them as well; they are seriously over-burdened) and the equally gifted content creators, whether they are contracted writers or authors, in order to produce digital versions of educational content that are something brand new but also beautiful and easy to use, while fulfilling the purpose of the material, whether it's straight text, interactive text with videos, photos, equations, or exercises, or whatever. Each element of the product should have a learning goal and when it's completed some person or some group should be checking that the goals were met by the product's design and functionalities. In other words, the bar for the QA level should be really high rather than haphazard, and spot checks need to become a thing of the past.

     Right now, the newness is the only factor I see being fulfilled. At this stage of the game, you can't rely on spot checks to see how well the product functions. Instead,hire knowledgable teams to go through every single screen and make sure that the content looks good, is easy to navigate, and fulfills clear learning objectives that are obvious to the user because the product is so well thought out and designed. There are indications that this is STARTING TO BE management's attitude toward developing digital products. I can only hope that attitude is maintained and doesn't disappear should yet another new management team come to the fore.

     Oh yeah, before I forget, stop changing direction every few months. It's totally demoralizing to everyone who actually creates and produces the company's products.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 13 people found this helpful  

    Good flexibility and people to work with, Out of touch senior management, no HR

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst in Cincinnati, OH
    Current Employee - Analyst in Cincinnati, OH

    I have been working at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I enjoy flexible hours and workload. I earn constant 'exceeds' reviews because I am able to constantly add more work to my purview. Lots of good people at the bottom who have great skills. The CEO seems very genuine, transparent, and forward thinking.

    Cons

    The senior management seems to not buy into what the CEO is preaching to us. While the CEO tells us to take initiative and make things happen, we are stymied by his direct reports when we actually do that. It's very much still top down, do what we say and we know what we're going around here.

    Also, HR is not very interactive in benefits and pay. There are no performance based incentives here for anything under director level, and when any annual increases (well under cost of living increases) are given out, it's at the managers discretion. HR should be doing this, not managers who can favor friends or punish employees who don't agree with them on something.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    #1 is there needs to be actual incentive for performance outside of "just be glad you have a job" (which is what I hear over and over from my director and VP). There are lots of jobs out there for people with great skills and abilities. That attitude just ensures you keep the people who can't get a job anywhere else.

    The senior management need to follow through with what the CEO has for a vision for this company. They don't seem to get what he's saying, and they certainly are disconnected with what is going on at the ground level.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 10 people found this helpful  

    Mediocre software development environments with great potential, being wasted.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director in Farmington Hills, MI
    Current Employee - Director in Farmington Hills, MI

    I have been working at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Flexible work schedules, great colleagues and a cool mission, creating educational technology for instructors and students

    Cons

    Leadership is very out of touch with what is really going on with the people who do the work

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Spend more time with people who do the work

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 10 people found this helpful  

    Good place to work depending on the department

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Farmington Hills, MI
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Farmington Hills, MI

    I have been working at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The work is challenging and the focus on process improvement keeps it interesting and competitive. CL is a very talented org, and is rebounding from Chapter 11 with renewed energy.

    Cons

    Departments vary drastically with regard to policies, i.e. working from home, flexing in/out, coverage when taking time off, etc. Within the departments, how managers carryout those policies varies drastically too. So, if you are in the most rigid dept with the most rigid boss.....you are miserable, though you may enjoy the actual work you do.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Survey employees more, take it to heart, and pinpoint inconsistencies in management, and regulate policies to create fairness. Pay more attention to intangible benefits such as employee morale.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
  10. 6 people found this helpful  

    Good Worker Bees, Suspect Managementr

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Specialist in Mason, MI
    Former Employee - Specialist in Mason, MI

    I worked at Cengage Learning full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Salary, benefits, overall good people

    Cons

    Suspect management, too many catty women

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There is entirely too much interoffice politics and catty backstabbing

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    No complaints

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Cengage Learning

    Pros

    Have worked here for over 10 years

    Cons

    Communication can improve ... need to know more of what's going on at own location

Work at Cengage Learning? Share Your Experiences

Cengage Learning

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.