PNNL Reviews

Updated August 6, 2015
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3.5
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PNNL Director Dr. Steven Ashby
Dr. Steven Ashby
2 Ratings

Pros
  • The work-life balance is fantastic (in 9 reviews)

  • Collaborative working environment, flexible working hours (which is similar in any national lab), aggressive research goals, (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • None if you live in the Tri-cities; if you are off-site it is a major negative strike (in 4 reviews)

  • the city is small, not many fun (in 2 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

95 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (3)

    Only show in town

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Staff Scientist in Richland, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Staff Scientist in Richland, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at PNNL full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The work you get to do is amazing. It's very cutting edge research on things that really matter in the long run. If you love golf and the outdoors (especially cycling and water sports), this is a great place to live. The cost of living is quite low compared to elsewhere in the state and yet if you choose wisely the school districts are really good. Beware of living in just about anywhere in Pasco, most of Kennewick, and certain parts of Richland because some of the schools are really bad.

    Cons

    The location can be really hard to bear for some. It's very remote, it's very conservative, and the climate is very hard, especially in summer. There are also almost no cultural amenities unless you count farmer's markets, monster truck rallies, hydroplane races and county fairs. Sometimes it's hard to get public recognition for the work you do. And once you move to Richland, it's hard to move away because it costs a lot to "upgrade" to a real place to live. Foreign nationals beware. You can get stuck there until you get your green card and you may not be able to work on the most interesting and career advancing research until you get your citizenship. If you have ambitions for upper management, forget about rising through the ranks. That's not possible because middle management is choked up with lifers. The total compensation package used to be stellar and was one of the main reasons I chose to work there. It has been degraded progressively over the years and it is now a rather ho-hum package. For a organization that claims to have extraordinary people doing extraordinary work, they actually give rather ordinary compensation.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on staff development and comfort in the workplace for retention. You're hemorrhaging good early/mid career people because they feel like they are working in a entrepreneurial environment without any of the benefits. Cost cutting measures like cubicles and bull pens are driving your best people away quickly. They leave because they can, so you're left with only those who can't or won't leave. It's not a healthy workplace satisfaction model in the long run. Use lower and middle management to develop better leaders. Clear out the deadwood by instituting rigorous term limits for all lower and middle management positions and reduce musical chairs by adopting a much more overt "move up" or "move out" policy during reorganizations. There are way too many managers whose only function is to deliver the slow "no" and hold money until as late as possible in the fiscal year just in case something interesting comes along. Doing all this would let staff know that entering management is a risky move because if they're not up to the task, they'll get pushed out quickly. Right now, entering management is a great way to make sure you're untouchable. It's basically like getting tenure and far too many managers squat on the job. Beware of hiring outside academic superstars to run internal R&D programs that were developed by your own staff. Good "research to results" certainly requires a healthy combination of academic, industry and government types but the balance is way off right now. Too many critical programs are being run by people who don't really understand what is done or how it is done and whose only function is to look good in front of the clients. Staff have been complaining to you about this for years, but you're not listening to them and by bringing in outsiders to take over their research you're telling staff that you don't trust them and don't believe in them. The message is go away now because there's no future for you here.


  2. R&D PNNL

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Richland, WA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Richland, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great bunch of folks there. Great cutting edge technology and work is appreciated.

    Cons

    Politics can be a pain. At the laboratory, software engineers are grunt work. Everything depends on publications and software engineers are not in position to publish.


  3. Helpful (2)

    Professional/Nontechnical Staff//Brutal Politics

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at PNNL full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Pay was pretty fair compared to national markets. Benefits were outstanding, particularly healthcare and flex time/scheduling. The Tri-Cities are nice if you like a small town feeling.

    Cons

    After a four-year run, I left largely due to the astonishing politicitical environment. I worked on four primary projects while there; half were toxic with the backdoor dealings among project staff. Twice, I accepted internal jobs with increased levels of responsibility--but last-second politicking from pet staff displaced me from those roles. I had high reviews and received several performance-based raises and cash awards. I exceeded criteria for promotion. Despite these factors, I kept being passed over for pet staff members. I saw similar treatment of engineers/researchers and other staff members who also weren't part of "the club."

    Advice to Management

    Implement and follow policies against fraternization. Reward proven ability and manage poor performers appropriately.


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  5. Helpful (3)

    Good Place to Work better for retirees and newbees

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Richland, WA
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Richland, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at PNNL full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Very flexible schedule (BEST THING ABOUT PNNL), pension, great benefits, lots of roles for every interest, low cost of living in surrounding areas, great people.

    Cons

    pay is low, things move very slow, bad behavior is not addressed swiftly (and mostly not at all), too many people just collecting a check, PNNL perpetuates insubordinate behavior by moving troublemakers instead of getting rid of them. Seniority plays too much of a role in overall decisions.

    Advice to Management

    Recognize you are losing younger talent because of the seniority/pay your dues mentality. People will work harder and better if they can be rewarded today. Not in 25 years. There is too much competition to do that these days.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Awesome research experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Tech Intern IV in Richland, WA
    Current Employee - Tech Intern IV in Richland, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Started as an intern with little experience and have had nothing but good experiences with my mentors and other Co workers. Everyone is willing to share their knowledge or help with problems.

    Cons

    The pay isn't the best, but the cost of living in richland is much lower then other places.. making it work pretty well.

    Advice to Management

    I believe a better relationship with HR and managers would be very beneficial to the company. Otherwise, managers are awesome and are always willing to help.


  7. Helpful (2)

    Great Temporary Place

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great co workers great facility

    Cons

    It is a temp position and everyone is alaways looking for grants


  8. Helpful (2)

    Postdoc review

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Richland, WA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Richland, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at PNNL full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great facility and state-of-the-art instrumentation.

    Cons

    Less freedom to conduct my own research.


  9. Good place to begin a Policy Analyst Career

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

    Pros

    Assigned to work for the Department of Energy. Management micro-managed at times, but for the most part provided the space and flexibility to meet the needs of the DOE program office I worked for. Benefits were unparalleled

    Cons

    Pay was below average. Richland isn't an ideal location for young professionals.

    Advice to Management

    Stay committed to the Seattle campus. It is a great draw for young professionals and make PNNL much more competitive for hires.


  10. A flexible work environment surrounded by other intelligent people who get to work on tough and challenging projects

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sustainability Engineer in Richland, WA
    Current Employee - Sustainability Engineer in Richland, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at PNNL full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    collaboration with other people on interesting and leading edge technology

    Cons

    The age gap and collective bargaining are somewhat of a burden, along with not enough resources where they should be at the field level and less middle management.

    Advice to Management

    Less paperwork and more collaboration opportunities along with merit pay


  11. Helpful (1)

    intense work load vs flexible work time

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Scientist III in Richland, WA
    Former Employee - Scientist III in Richland, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at PNNL full-time

    Pros

    You have the flexibility to arrange your own work schedule, as long as you deliver on time.

    Cons

    Need to work really hard to raise money.

    Advice to Management

    None



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