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I have been working at IEM full-time (more than 10 years)Pros
There are a number of strong positive aspects of working here. The people have to be at the top of the list; you work with intelligent, knowledgeable, capable, dedicated people for the most part. You will get to know a number of great people here, learn from them, and respect them. The ones you don't respect tend not to last forever. I don't think there are many jobs where you have quite the same sense of being surrounded by good, talented, and fun people.
The company also has some very strong values. Being privately owned by a single person, it's a company with a very specific moral sense--the owner's. Not having stockholders, we can afford to do what's right even if we make less money. And because this business is one woman's personal domain and achievement, it is unlikely to be sold to a huge, faceless corporation any time soon.
While the company needs to make money, the focus is definitely on doing an excellent job for the customer in return for that money. Equally satisfying to an employee, the work we do is all about helping to keep people safe. You can feel good about what you're doing in a way that you might not if you were, say, selling useless widgets or marketing junk food. And let's face it--it is very rewarding to know that you are doing top-notch work, not just "good enough."
Most employees have a good deal of autonomy in doing their jobs. You get assigned a task, and you get it done. In most areas, there are processes to follow, but you still have a lot of control over how exactly you accomplish your goals in the time available. Micromanagement is limited, though some managers are worse than others. Generally, a talented employee is given largely free rein to excel. If you want to advance into management, you can do it. At present there are not a lot of opportunities for advancement besides the management track, but they're working on that. Even without a formal promotion, excellent workers are quickly noticed and given more and broader responsibilities.
I hear stories about other work places, where incompetent people are promoted and shuffled around until they find a niche where they can do relatively little harm. Where shoddy work is the order of the day. Where different parts of the company compete and stab each other in the back, instead of supporting each other. Those things are infrequent aberrations at IEM, not business as usual.
Although its offices are often located in fairly conservative places (Louisiana, North Carolina, Utah), the company is receptive to gays and lesbians, and makes room for people of all (or no) religious faiths as long as they don't impose their beliefs on their fellow workers.
The benefits seem to be comparable to what other similar companies offer. However, there are a number of additional perks. Flexible hours--really flexible, not the usual "flextime" that means you can choose between working nine to five or eight to four--make it easy to schedule doctor's appointments or suit your work time to the actual work flow. We have casual dress for those who don't work directly with customers--again, not khakis and button-down casual, but shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops casual if that's how you roll. There is no drug testing unless it is mandated by a customer, since employees are trusted to be professional at work and law-abiding at home unless they prove otherwise. While all positions are salaried positions and therefore have no official overtime, overtime pay (at regular rates) can be approved when necessary. Different managers have different levels of generosity where this is concerned, but it is rarely abused because most people are desperate for more time, not more money.
Some people consider it a "con" to have a single owner who is often involved in the day-to-day business operations. Truthfully, sometimes this can have serious drawbacks, when you do not agree with that owner. However, in the end, she is a very savvy businesswoman who built the company from a one-woman show into a 300+ employee enterprise. Those predicting the downfall of IEM will be surprised by its tenacity.Cons
Work-life balance here can be quite challenging. The culture is one of driven excellence; each employee is expected to be willing to do what it takes to get the job done, and done well. While there are flexible hours, there are also often demands for things like overtime and weekend work, and few allowances made for real-life priorities. Some people fail to take all their vacation time; some constantly cancel plans, or just avoid making them in the first place. A few fight valiantly for their personal time, which they must do to maintain that balance, but sometimes there are repercussions. You must fight for your time, because the company will be happy to let you spend it all working.
Formal professional development is not much supported at this time, but there are ample opportunities to learn on the job by doing different kinds of related work. If you want to take a class or get a certification, though, the company rarely foots the bill and there is no policy on that at present.
My impression of salaries is that they are comparable to what other companies pay for similar positions, but I don't have many points of comparison. It is true that raises and bonuses can be limited for several years at a time when the company experiences tougher times--such as during the recession that began in 2008. The lack of opportunities for internal advancement without going into management also mean that it can be easy to top out the salary levels offered for one's position. (When you are a Senior Planner, you can't be promoted further without ceasing to work as a Planner. So your pay raise options slow considerably at that point if you continue doing the same job, even if you are great at it and would make a terrible manager.)
The company is quite friendly to women and minorities (as it is owned by a minority woman), but holds everyone to the same high standards. If you are a woman and willing to work long, unpredictable hours and produce excellent work, you have an equal shot at a management position compared to a similarly inclined male employee. I don't believe that any specific maternity or paternity leave is offered, though regular sick time and vacation can be used, as well as FMLA leave without pay. It seems like it would be very difficult to be a single mother (or father) of small children working at IEM, though partnered parents seem to manage better with a little support from their spouses.Advice to ManagementAdvice
IEM has the most amazing people. People (in the form of services) are essentially what we sell. If we could nurture those people more, and give them more opportunities for work-life balance, we could build on that strength instead of finding a bunch of new amazing people on a constant replacement schedule. Things improve for a while, then go back to craziness again. While IEM offers very fulfilling work, some people like having a life outside of work.RecommendsNeutral OutlookApproves of CEO