Acumen Data and Policy Analyst Reviews | Glassdoor

Acumen Data and Policy Analyst Reviews

Updated November 27, 2017
24 reviews

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Data and Policy Analyst

2.1
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Thomas MaCurdy
19 Ratings

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Pros
  • Interesting projects that offer great exposure to the healthcare field through projects that matter and working with big data (in 10 reviews)

  • work-life balance is great if you're the type who likes to work hard on interesting problems but still go home at 6 (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Hypocrisy regarding work/life balance (in 11 reviews)

  • There is a high turnover rate so employees left have to take on huge amounts of responsibilities with little pay to compensate for it (in 12 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (4)

    "Good for new grads, interesting work, management is hit or miss, experiences vary greatly"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Former Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Acumen full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Employees are intelligent and friendly.
    - There are a wide variety of contracts to work on, many of which are interesting, rewarding, and have real impact on health policy.
    - Acumen has more access and expertise with public health data than other health research contractors.
    - When properly recognized by management, good work is rewarded with higher pay and accelerated advancement.
    - Hours are flexible (although often still long) and work environment is very casual.
    - The CEO is incredibly smart and has ambitious visions for the company. He is a workaholic who is absurdly committed to the company.

    Cons

    - A lot of teams suffer from poor management. Often managers are chosen based on how long they have been at the company or their project knowledge rather than their ability or desire to support the people reporting to them.
    - A lot of teams are over-worked. Depending on what projects you work on, you may have periodic crunch times where you have to work 80+ hour weeks.
    - Good work is often rewarded with more work and responsibilities than is desired until the employee eventually burns out.
    - The CEO can be very difficult to work with. He is very aggressive, demanding, and has trouble communicating his ideas to others. You need thick skin, patience, and good communication skills to be able to work with him.

    Advice to Management

    - Spend significant time and effort evaluating management team by team. Identify team dynamics that are unhealthy or unsustainable and set in place long term plans to address those issues.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Non-profit H-1B sponsorship, poor communication and management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - If you are looking for a place to learn SAS, this is a good place.
    - If you are looking for a place to learn healthcare policies, this might be a good place. They work on different aspects of healthcare for the government. But the documentation and training are not good, you need a lot of self-learning here.

    Cons

    - Please please believe all the negative reviews here when seriously consider working in Acumen. They are all true. I have worse management stories. Most managers assigned to new hirers are fresh undergraduates and only have 1-2 years of working experience. Don’t expect them to be your mentor or care about your personal development.
    - Seniority is what Acumen values. It penetrates in many aspects – voice of your opinion, raises, promotion and even office supplies. For example, they gave out new chairs based on the order of the length you’ve stayed here while supply lasts. If you have prior working experience, it is not valued and sometimes it might hurt you – depending how your young/inexperienced manager sees it. Past reviews have commented on this.
    - Long working hours and low compensation are true. HR will tell you that there will be raises/promotion every six months the first 2 years you start here. This gets tricky: it depends on the date you start (there is a fixed time window for evaluation, if you miss it, you miss it) and don’t expect the raise is high, and don’t expect a promotion each time.
    - Poor Communication. Non-transparency. I have seen people got moved around teams/managers without prior notice. You also won’t know what other people are doing in the same team, let alone people in other teams.
    - They offer non-profit H1B sponsorship here. You also need to sign an agreement to pay penalties if you leave within xxx months/years working here after the sponsorship. Same for green card application. The GC app is slow here. Check on line how many people are in the GC list if this is something you are considering.
    - Benefits are poor. One simple case to illustrate their attitudes to the employees: when they serve bakery, they cut the bakery in half, and put a sign saying that people should not take more than two pieces, and have an HR to supervisor in the room. For snacks, one piece for one person.
    - One last word, every rule is very calculated here. If you have learned economics, they are trying to squeeze as much low cost as possible from their employees.

    Advice to Management

    The HR team has always been saying they are changing the management around here. It has been a long time and nothing has changed. Hire more experienced people to do the management.

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I am sorry you have had a challenging experience at Acumen. I would be happy to discuss any of the issues you have articulated and try and work through them... More

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Not a tech company for programmers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Acumen full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - If you are very interested in health policy and would like to learn programming, this might be a good choice for you.
    - Intelligent employee and alumni.
    - New HR team on board since late 2016 - they try to improve by adding some employee benefits.

    Cons

    - Unlike other bay area companies, Acumen is NOT a tech company. For programmers, the skills you learned here are out-dated and not transferable to other tech companies. They hire and train people how to program before actually doing the programming work. A programmer don't even need to know how to program. Again, proves this is not a tech company.

    - Frequent organization restructure: team structure changes frequently without reason or sign, because the employee are not valued and respected here. The upper management do not care your career path, they just want you to get things done. Its not rare to work with more than 2 managers in less than 1 year.

    - Micromanagement: young employee with little experience were promoted to managers resulting in micro and sometimes unethical management. Poorly-planned management causes employee to work at last minute before every deadline. Most managers were promoted from analyst - they do not hire experienced managers outside. The pay is too low to attract any.

    - Way below market salary for a programmer in Bay Area. In addition, base salary is all you get. The company claimed to provide 5% 401k match, but vested in 4 years (employee get NOTHING in the first 2 years). A lot of people left in less than 2 years.

    - No work-life balance. Once you get by the first few months and become 'handy', the managers may dump you lots of work and ask you to work at evenings, weekends and even during holidays. Yes, the managers do talk to you and ask you to work after hours, like a commander. Not professional at all.

    - High turnover: The above results in high-turnover rate, especially for programmers. This is an infinite loop, getting worse and worse.

    Overall, the company treats employee a disposable resource and doesn't value their contribution.

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for taking the time to provide a review. I would agree that we are not a tech company. We are continuing to bring better work life balance and management training. We are always open... More


  4. Helpful (5)

    "The work is really rewarding but the management makes it really hard to stay at the company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Meaningful work, research is impactful, office is pet friendly

    Cons

    Management promotes working late, and people are really frowned upon if they keep the 9-5 schedule

    Advice to Management

    Please learn to appreciate the talent you have and make sure people don't leave in droves

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your review. We are working to provide a better work life balance for everyone in the company.


  5. Helpful (5)

    "Manager in-fighting leads to poor employee morale"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Exciting projects, meaningful work, beautiful locations

    Cons

    The company has a horrible management system. Sometimes you get passed on promotions simply based on the team you were put on. Performance reviews are a joke and they always tell you the same things to every employee "please improve attention to detail". There is a high turnover rate so employees left have to take on huge amounts of responsibilities with little pay to compensate for it.

    Advice to Management

    Be clear with your employees, and treat them with a little bit of respect. Stop treating employees replaceable comoditites.

    Acumen Response

    Oct 31, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I am sorry you are having challenges that impact your positive feelings for the company. We are working on training programs for the managers to help them... More


  6. Helpful (13)

    "Your experience depends on your team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Intelligent people working at the company
    - Impactful work
    - Interesting clients if you are interested in health policy
    - Room to grow and learn if you are lucky enough to be on a good team with a good manager (this is my case, others are not so lucky)
    - Yoga classes on Fridays
    - Introduction of Town Halls to address changes and other things that affect employees
    - The lagoon is great to walk around
    - Relaxed dress code
    - Pet-friendly
    - Compensation is relatively competitive

    Cons

    - Anti-social co-workers. At company lunches most people just grab a plate of food and eat at their desk. Many older employees are not welcoming to new employees. This could also be a function of high turnover rate (another con), resulting in people not knowing who is new or not.
    - Hypocrisy of upper level management. They preach communication and transparency, but changes to the structure of the company are made regularly with little to no notice. Most recently, one person found out their team was being split, and 10 minutes later she had her first meeting with her new team.
    - Some managers are very checked out, and do not care to support their teams, instead becoming a source of frustration
    - Inconsistency of HR rules. Although there are strict rules about promotions/management opportunities, these seem to be disregarded if you know the right people
    - Hypocrisy regarding work/life balance. For example, Acumen offers Yoga classes (great!). At yoga class, someone from HR will remind you that you need to go back to work if you haven't completed your hours for the day! (not so great). Additionally, during new hire orientation HR stresses reporting your hours on your timesheet, preferably keeping track of each 15 minute increment. Work/life balanace is a product of your manager/team. Although my team believes in work/life balance, other teams work 12 hour days regularly.
    - Social events are hit or miss. An event advertised as a "summer party" was essentially a snack vendor promotion event.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on creating a work place that people want to stay at. The company culture could definitely use improvements, particularly at the Burlingame location. Be consistent with what is said, and what is done. Evaluate managers frequently.

    Acumen Response

    Dec 8, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review. I appreciate your feedback and we are implementing programs that do just that. I hope you find that our new programs meet your... More


  7. Helpful (8)

    "Believe the bad reviews"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    They literally hire anyone. A lot of people use working at Acumen as a way to make money while applying for better jobs. So I guess the pro is that it's not difficult to get hired?

    Cons

    Lack of communication and transparency - there are constant "reorganizations" that are sprung on teams with little to no notice, but management preaches transparency.

    No one to talk to - I once mentioned something to HR about a negative experience I had with a manager. There was no plan offered other than "I'll let him/her know that you feel that way". I don't need to play telephone about my feelings, there needs be be better ways to provide feedback about your manager.

    Stagnant upper management - A lot of the people who have been here for a long time are checked out. It is incredibly uninspiring to work for and with such people.

    Inconsistency - Your success/privileges here are dependent only on your manager. Managers are trained internally and generally don't have a lot of management skills or people skills, for that matter.

    Work/life balance - Lots of teams work 12 hour days regularly. A very unhealthy workplace in that regard.

    Anti-social office - People here tend to range from ignoring you to being actively unfriendly.

    High turnover - This is quite obvious once you experience the office environment, but something needs to be done. It's really demoralizing.

    Advice to Management

    Change the culture here. I want to be inspired by my colleagues. I want to feel respected and get equal treatment regardless of my manager. I want to want to stay here at this job and I want others to feel the same.

    Acumen Response

    Jun 26, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I am very disheartened to hear that you felt HR was dismissive of your management issue. If you feel comfortable, I would like to hear more about that.
    On... More

  8. "Nothing to complain about"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Flexible hours, chill work environment

    Cons

    Not many perks outside of salary but the salary is competitive.

    Acumen Response

    Apr 24, 2017 – Recruiting Manager

    We appreciate you taking the time to leave us a review, thank you. We are happy to hear everything is working out well for you here.


  9. Helpful (9)

    "Believe the good and definitely believe the bad"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Current Employee - Data and Policy Analyst in Burlingame, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Acumen (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Interesting projects that offer great exposure to the healthcare field through projects that matter and working with big data.
    - Flexible work environment - they seem to let people work remotely all the time.
    - Smart and diverse set of colleagues.
    - Some competent managers, but it really is dumb luck where you end up as analysts do not typically get a say in which teams they are assigned to and once assigned have little mobility within the company.
    - You can progress up the management chain if you prove yourself worthy. This is uneven though as some teams seems to value dynamism and encourage employee growth whereas others have very stringent management styles that stifle growth.

    Cons

    - Massive retention issues and low gross pay that are incompatible to living comfortably in the Bay area.
    - Long work hours and concurrently low hourly wages. More recently, they seem to be having issues attracting strong talent meaning that competent analysts bear a disproportionate burden of work.
    - Turf wars among upper management seem common. This can make for a fairly toxic environment with a lot of back biting that make for lots of negative interactions for junior analysts.
    - Poor management and lack of communication. Managers always seem to be on the defensive, sometimes for no explicable reason.
    - Employees are viewed as disposable, no matter how long they've worked at the company or what they've done for it.
    - Lots of unhappy employees, which makes for a demotivating environment overall. This is not surprising given the issues outlined above.
    - None of these issues are unique to my perspective and have been documented by multiple parties over several years. Take them seriously if you are considering working at the company. Ultimately, the cons outweigh the pros and that does not bode well for the company.

    Advice to Management

    The content is interesting and important, but whatever ongoing management issues there are need to be addressed. It seems like the company is slowly starting to train mid-level managers (effect remains to be seem), but upper management could use training in specific topics, including:
    - Maintaining a positive work environment.
    - Treating employees (even lower level analyst who they may not work with) like humans and with respect. Even acknowledging that they exist would be good start.
    - Genuinely valuing employees; many have contributed in significant ways to the growth of the company.

    Also think about how compensation relative to the Bay Area. This seems to be sticking point across reviews and year-to-year the company seems to get worse while the cost of living in the Bay Area keeps rising.

    All of these factors affect the day to day for employees and the content cannot be the only reason for employees to come in to work and give it their best.

    Acumen Response

    Feb 28, 2017 – HR Director

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. We are developing programs to address many of these specific issues. The company is actively recruiting and hiring more senior management to enable the... More


  10. Helpful (18)

    "Believe the negative reviews here. DO NOT work here!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Data & Policy Analyst Level III in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Data & Policy Analyst Level III in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Acumen (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - reasonably interesting projects
    - opportunity to learn some professional/client management/communication skills

    Stay for at most a year and get what you can out of it

    Cons

    - Terrible leadership that does not care about its employees and views employees as replaceable.
    - Extremely poorly trained managers that are either a hit or miss.
    - Uncompetitive analyst/programmer salaries.
    - Inconvenient location
    - Lack of perks/benefits relative to other Bay Area companies
    - Unhappy workforce that's stuck at the company largely because of Acumen's H1B/foreign visa sponsorship
    - Very unhelpful HR department that cares more about protecting themselves than advocating on behalf of employees.
    - Did I mention severe lack of experienced leadership?

    My starting salary as a data & policy analyst was ~50k/year. A comparable role at most Bay Area startups pays at least 50% more. Don't even get me started on Acumen's programmer salaries, which are truly abysmal by Bay Area standards. Just do your own research and check out the salary ranges offered at healthcare startups on angellist.com before you make a decision! This company is only able to lure fresh college graduates who don't know any better.

    Advice to Management

    - Offer higher salaries
    - Care about your employees
    - Hire experienced leadership, especially for HR department

    Acumen Response

    Jul 19, 2016 – Senior Recruiting Coordinator

    Thank you for your time and feedback. As we constantly evolve and improve, we have made it a priority to hear everyone’s opinion. We are excited to bring on board a new HR Director as of last month.