Westat Statistician Jobs & Careers in Rockville, MD

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30+ days ago

Senior Statistician

Westat Rockville, MD

include multivariate analyses, time series analyses, and working with censored data. This individual will be an active member of an interdisciplinary… Beyond.com

30+ days ago

Survey Sampling Statistician

Westat Rockville, MD

include: developing sample designs (determining stratification and allocation to strata; determine sample size based on differences and power… Beyond.com

30+ days ago

Senior Survey Sampling Statistician

Westat Rockville, MD

include: developing sample designs (determining stratification and allocation to strata; determine sample size based on differences and power… Beyond.com

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James E. Smith
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  • 1 person found this helpful  

    One Big Disaster

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    Current Employee - Help Desk Agent in Rockville, MD
    Current Employee - Help Desk Agent in Rockville, MD

    I have been working at Westat as a contractor (less than a year)


    The receptionist is nice. The two Help Desk managers are usually nice and seem to be good people. The Help Desk Agents are amazing. The managers are lucky but they don't know it.


    There are so many all I can do is list them bullet style:
    1-99% of the NAEP Help Desk are minorities. 100% of the NAEP management are males or white. They bully us.
    2-The instructions we get and the instructions that are sent to schools and field staff are often incorrect resulting in dozens of calls daily for weeks just to correct minor problems.
    3-They hire staff who have no computer literacy. When they call in for help they are unable to tell us why they need help because they don't know what a website is or what the internet is. It's demoralizing. It can get so bad that they lack the skills to allow us to remote into their computers to help them.
    4-It seems as if they artificially increase call volume by not communicating or training any employee sufficiently in order to possible justify the contract price? It's bizarre.
    5-The system, website, servers, instructions, procedures are so lacking that the managers become so frustrated they either yell at us, completely ignore us like we don't exist or threaten us. Rather than empathize the enormous stress we endure.
    6-The most complex task schools have to do is to import student data onto an Excel spreadsheet and then upload it into the naep system. The instructions given to schools were incorrect and each column is not consistent with the other so rather than give each school an example of a completed template in which to copy, we give them a barely comprehensible graph, which is incorrect. There are so many ways to eliminate calls, errors and problems but management point their finger at us. Basic common sense solutions are not implemented to help schools.
    7-At least 2-3 people who call threaten to quit each day. The system and Help Desk's ineffectual service results in schools getting an exception to not participate and other schools to voluntarily opt out.
    8-Employees are not given a basic phone directory of who to call so they wait on hold up to two hours to get through to us and then find out they need to be transferred and wait another hour.
    9-We had 3 days of training and we are expected to help those who had far more training. We have one guide book which is not available half the time since we have to share it.
    10-Learning the system could have been extremely easy but management made it harder. One manager referred to our ticket system by the wrong name. For many weeks I was thoroughly confounded. I thought I was woefully under qualified until one day someone else asked what he was referring to. It turns out he thought it was easier to call our ticket system by the wrong name. If he had explained ahead of time we would not have been so confused.
    11-During a meeting one Help Desk agent commented, "Is this the first time we're doing naep?" "Are we the test group?" It's shocking to believe that Westat has had the contract for 40 years+. The way it is run it appears as if they've never done this.
    12-They don't train or communicate. We are not supposed to take calls from certain topics and groups of people as we have no access to the system but we are not told that until days to weeks after we begin taking calls and are confused, unable to help or receive a multitude of complaints.
    13-One manager wants us to take super detailed tickets which take an exorbitant amount of time causing the hold times to exceed over one to two hours. Two managers want us to ticket every single call even if it's just to transfer or give them the correct number which takes an exorbitant amount of time (one of them told us that if we want to stay employed we should account for every call) and another manager told us that we can't keep customers waiting so do not take tickets. 4 managers, 3 different procedures. Yet they point fingers at us.
    14-Management is very heavy handed. They threaten us, treat us poorly and try to own us by making the most tedious and petty demands. One manager in another department told us we couldn't use the restroom every hour and that she could pull up reports to see how many calls we miss. It isn't possible to live up to their standards. They will always try to find something wrong with us.
    15-The pay is so low and we are treated so poorly, I no longer blame the agents for not taking the job seriously and for not doing their best.
    16-Management fails to acknowledge their short comings but insist on focusing on ours rather than ask us how to improve conditions. When we do make suggestions they aren't taken seriously. They don't implement improvements.
    17-The system we use is regressive and light years behind software that I used 20 years ago when I last worked in a call center.
    18-We could reduce calls by 50% with no cost improvements.
    19-Management is not empathetic when agents get sick.
    20-When callers call in their information doesn't populate. The ticket system freezes so much and is made to be so difficult it causes unnecessary frustrations.
    21-Some of us agents found mistakes and learned things about the system management did not know. There is a lack of in depth knowledge. Each department is so individual and isolated there is no cross training or cohesion. When I bring up something they don't know like a systemic problem, they brush it under the table, blame us or pretend they are not contributing to the problems.
    22-The two managers at the Help Desk have ZERO support or resources. Upper management reigns down but does not resolve the two managers frustrations. They are left in the cold. They need another supervisor who can coach agents and be nice. Saving money is actually costing more money than it is saving.
    23-We are not paid for holidays so we end up working overtime other days to make up for it and end up exhausted. Management can't understand why people don't show up, come in late or are too tired to do their best.

    There are so many more problems I cannot list them all. The most unfortunate part about these problems is that there is a no cost fix for every single one. Bullying is not the answer. It can be a good place to work but they want to maintain status quo. It's dysfunctional. I'm not saying we are not lucky compared to a second world nation but at the same time conditions are not where they need to be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn to have fun and make friends with people. It may not make a difference in terms of dedication to the job as the menial wages, lack of benefits and security wouldn't benefit us but it would make life somewhat happy. CUT THE CALL VOLUME by making simple changes, you are not helpless. The agents could spend more time studying, learning, taking time with each caller instead of rushing and being over stressed. Promote women and minorities. When 99% of agents are female and male minorities, how could the demographics of management be so skewed? Do not blame agents for mistakes and for not knowing something. Allow agent to have a 30 minute session once a week to discuss callers, ideas, training. GET CREATIVE.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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