American Institutes for Research
2.8 of 5 89 reviews
www.air.org Washington, DC 1000 to 5000 Employees

American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated Jul 3, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.8 89 reviews

                             

53% Approve of the CEO

American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers

David Myers

(30 ratings)

39% of employees recommend this company to a friend
89 Employee Reviews
in

Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "The company gives lip-service to work/life balance and the mission is a good one"
    in 9 reviews
  • "nice group and great working environment"
    in 8 reviews
Cons:
  • "Work-life balance is not great, especially for those of us who are willing to work hard"
    in 4 reviews
  • "Requests by higher level staff to do admin work outside of normal project functions"
    in 6 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

    • Culture & Values
           
    • Work/Life Balance
           
    • Senior Management
           
    • Comp & Benefits
           
    • Career Opportunities
           
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Getting ahead depends on who you know rather than performance

    Researcher (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsWith offices around the country, everyone is used to having to work with staff that is located remotely, so the infrastructure is in place for when I need to telecommute. This allows for a better work-life balance.

    ConsIt's not an equal playing field. Recognition and promotion depends on who your staff manager is and who you know. When AIR acquired one company a few years ago, all new staff from that company automatically received a promotion of a level or two, so that people that came in from the new company with only a couple of years experience out of college were on par with people who had that same number of years of experience and a Ph.D. because the new VP pushed for them.

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe honest with staff! It's very unfair to say, "You need to do x, y, and z to get a promotion," and then not give out a promotion when x, y, and z are accomplished. What staff needs to do to get ahead shouldn't be a secret and shouldn't depend on who your staff manager happens to be.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    2 people found this helpful  

    high living expense with low pay and much much much work

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Prosfree beverage and other unimportant benefit
    location is dc area not far from metro

    Consa lot
    too too too much work
    get promote not base on your performance

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Lots of good colleagues, but too much work, low pay, and slow promotion

    Research Analyst (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsFirm has some excellent values and attracts some really good people in terms of skill and experience - most of people here are very bright and hard working

    ConsPeople kill themselves to get work done and are not appreciated - Company has way too many managers who don't really do much of anything but talk about how they want to support you - advancement and promotion is slow - pay is not great and you don't get any real reward for good performance - everybody gets low increases even when company seems to be doing really well

    Advice to Senior Managementbe real about what salaries outside the company are and be competitive with - it is very demoralizing to realize you may be hired at a competive salary but then fall behind people in very similar jobs - realize too that people have very different skills and should be paid differently, even with same job title

    Make clear what it takes to advance in company

    Don't let managers play favorites

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
           
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Not good for entry-level staff

    Research (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsSome perks are nice - free coffee, bagels on Wednesdays. The company gives lip-service to work/life balance and the mission is a good one.

    ConsDon't make this your first job. You'll be stuck and stale a few years later. AIR works its junior staff very hard, but offers very few opportunities for advancement.

    Advice to Senior ManagementAfter the employee engagement surveys of the past few years, some additional attention seems to have been paid to research assistants and associates. Make sure the senior technical staff and management internalize the importance of these staff.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Working here is torture

    Communication Specialist (Current Employee)

    ProsFlex hours -- but totally off-set during proposal season
    Casual dress -- but what does it matter, most folk look like re-treads
    Location -- but you won't get out much

    ConsNo career path
    Weak managerial talent
    Re-hashed credentials
    No investment in talent, in capital equipment, in technology
    Mostly serve as a pass-thru for outside specialists
    Lackluster assignments
    No opportunity to stretch

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop being so short-sighted
    Invest in your company's future
    Look around -- be realistic in assessing your competition
    Stop going after every RFP that comes down the pike -- be strategic and you won't be so hungry
    See you employees as capital getting in the elevator at the end of the day
    Treat employees with respect -- don't tolerated indiscriminate managerial treatment and favoritism

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Would not recommend...

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    Pros- Free bagels and coffee

    Cons- Poor Management
    - Not innovative
    - Many projects seem to be mismanaged with little positive results being produced for the people they are meant to help.
    - Employees are over-worked and over-stressed
    - Lots of government funds wasted on useless projects

    Advice to Senior ManagementTreat employees with more respect. Learn how to manage.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    15 people found this helpful  

    Started great, ended as my most negative employment experience.

    Research Associate (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsThe job started positively, the work was interesting, people were friendly, there were lots of catered meals. They also had a large number of parties and social events, which some people may really enjoy, but were not something I was interested in. However, that turns into a negative in the next section.

    ConsI was lied to a number of times by senior management, verbally and in writing. I was told in writing that I would be getting a promotion at one point, and then they decided not to promote me. The very next year, I was turned down for a promotion again. This did not just affect me. I spoke to a number of coworkers that this has happened to. You may be promised promotions only to have them taken away at what amounts to a whim. Promotions are very difficult to come by, even if you are doing vital work for the company. The employee appraisal system is meaningless.

    A few of the less egregious lies involved the ability to work from home and assurances that I would only need to work 40 hours a week. I donated a substantial amount of time in most pay periods, just to get critical work done in time.

    I did not attend many parties, and this is where I honestly believe the job started to go from good to bad. I had a coworker at one point tell me that if I didn't go to the social events, that it would be incredibly difficult for me to progress past a certain point in the company. I didn't believe it at the time, but I sincerely regret not listening now. I had thought that hard work, doing the things that others couldn't, good ideas, and being overwhelmingly positive would be enough, but it wasn't. As time went on, I got the feeling that management was unhappy with me. Things got progressively worse over time until, as I neared my last day, there was what seemed like outright anger or disdain.

    I have worked a number of jobs; I worked in the service industry when I was younger, and professional, career jobs since. I have left all of them on good terms with everyone that I worked with and have good friends that I met at most of them. I have never left a job under such acrimonious conditions. I was never told what caused them. My advice to others would be this: Be cautious and make friends with the senior management. If you don't, advancing in your career could be much more difficult or impossible.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFollow through on what you say you're going to do or allow. Lying about promotions or the ability to work from home really hurts the employees when they count on those things and they never materialize.

    Try to understand the work that your employees do. If you aren't willing to listen to the employees that work for you, you can't make the best decisions for any project.

    Value people based on merit, not how many social events they attend or how they seem to want to be friends. Some people value time with their children or families, and punishing or disliking them for that is unfair.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Work/Life Balance
           
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    6 people found this helpful  

    In the two years I worked there, I never met anyone who respected the top management.

    Research Analyst (Former Employee)

    ProsThe research projects are engaging, valuable, and interesting.

    ConsI worked for a manager who demeaned and criticized her employees in front of the client. She was astonishingly abusive and unprofessional. Several of us complained to HR, but HR seemed to be under pressure to stand behind the manager because she brought in big projects. Her department became a revolving door for new employees who worked for as short a period as possible. We tried to stay for three years so as not to harm our work histories. However,most of us couldn't stick it out for more than a year. It was that bad! I personally knew five people who were traumatized by the whole experience and were upset even after they left because they knew they would never get a good letter of recommendation from the manager.

    Advice to Senior ManagementManagers have to be good people as well as fine researchers and project managers. It's not wise to protect abusive managers, and it certainly is not fair or humane.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    5 people found this helpful  

    More like a temp agency, but with benefits. No respect for employees.

    Communications (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsNot all divisions are completely bad. But some are so insular that they treat the rest of AIR as competitors. Best to worst: HSD, EHDW, Education, International ... Health.

    ConsComplete disregard for fairness, respect, or valuing of employees. Very inconsistent with stated mission. Work is less and less challenging as AIR chooses to partner for proposals with better-equipped companies who then provide the real value. The internal staff suffers from stagnation. Indifferent work is rewarded as well as anything.

    Advice to Senior ManagementConsider treating employees as potentially valuable assets to be nourished, promoted, encouraged, and perhaps kept long enough to create a true in-house team that contains the institutional knowledge and capabilities advertised.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    6 people found this helpful  

    Don't work there

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsNice office location, generally smart staff, casual office.

    ConsManagement has no respect for staff. They expect people to work crazy hours and then are surprised and upset when people are unhappy. Promotions are based on how much time you spend drinking with your manager at happy hour. HR is utterly ineffective and does not care about the staff.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect and communicate with your staff.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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