American Institutes for Research Reviews | Glassdoor

American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated April 18, 2019
349 reviews

Filter

Filter


3.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers
David Myers
133 Ratings

Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
Cons
  • "Absolutely no work life balance" (in 46 reviews)

  • "Upper management and senior management stonewall often" (in 14 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    "Generous with staff perks and benefits. Great flexibility."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Infrastructure Staff in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Infrastructure Staff in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexible work arrangements. Ability to work from several different offices and easily reserve cool visitor offices with sit/stand desks.

    Cons

    My department is pretty lean so it can be challenging.

    Advice to Management

    Other leaders need to be more visible - The CEO is very visible and approachable but others also need to step up.


  2. "Great non-profit; mission driven; solid benefits; few mgmt issues"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Education Researcher
    Current Employee - Education Researcher
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I love that AIR is big enough that it has solid infrastructure supports (IT, facilities, HR, etc) which many non-profits skimp on by necessity. I have found staff to be very mission-driven. Everyone is really focused on the goals of our projects and improve people's lives. Benefits are really good for a non-profit. Health Insurance isn't great, but it's not the worst I have seen. It's a very fast-paced work environment and there is a lot of flexibility so long as you're getting your work done. Competitive salary and bonus structure.

    One of my favorite things is that AIR is very supportive of career/professional development. Lots of opportunities to learn new content and skills on the job. Lots of supports from AIR for learning outside the organization, too. Staff here love learning.

    Cons

    The leadership have some issues with communication and transparency. They made good decisions, but then communicate poorly to the staff about the changes which has created a rift between staff and leadserhip and breads distrust. Leadership are aware of this and it appears as though they want to change, but so far it's been more lip service than anything.

    There can be issues with work/life balance if an employee isn't used to setting boundaries and advocating for themself. It's not a huge fight to obtain balance, in fact, managers are responsive to complaints about workload, but it's incumbent on the employee to let their manager know where the line is. I've observed that this is harder for the most junior staff to navigate.

  3. Helpful (13)

    "Great place, but... what's the point of being loyal?"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    This is a great place to work, especially because of the people. The people are definitely what makes me hold on to the organization during times of low morale.
    It is also a great place to be if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, as you can draw your own trajectory and change paths half way. With the caveat that you need a good staff manager to advocate for you. But more often than not, people above you care and advocate for you.
    Benefits are good and there is a lot of flexibility in terms of location and schedule. The new offices are really nice, and AIR is not buying into the whole shared space/cubicles culture, allowing most employees to have their own office or share it with one person at most.

    Cons

    It is virtually impossible for junior staff to move up if they don't have at least a master's degree, even if they're over-performing and have put in many years. Staff with PhDs tend to get more responsibility positions regardless of the experience or previous performance, just because the degree sells better. But often times the work gets down by people who are equally (if not more) capable who don't get the glory.
    Compensation: it is good if you start at a mid/senior level and have leverage to negotiate, but not if you work your way up from a junior position. There is no reward for being loyal, other than the increase in PTO and the occasional bonus (unclear who gets these). As you stay in the organization, and especially if you move up quickly (because you're over-performing), your market value decreases dramatically, and it is a long and arduous fight with HR to get you anywhere close to where you should in terms of compensation.

    Advice to Management

    The inability to get staff promoted without advance degrees and the loss of market value for staff who have been around for 4+ years, sends a message that loyalty is not valued. Mid/senior level employees who have been in the organization for several years are incredibly valuable, as they possess institutional knowledge and can get things done in less time. I think there has been a loss of talent in recent years because of this - AIR should consider more generous salary adjustments based on market value and performance.
    Similarly, AIR should consider promoting L2s and 3s who show potential regardless of their degree so we don't keep losing valuable employees. We are sending a message that they are dispensable.


  4. "Great opportunities for young professionals"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Research Associate in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Diversity of the work: You can be on a lot of different types of projects (which can also be a con) and this can help you gain different skills and work with various people, rather than being stuck on one project.

    Great benefits

    If you end up with a manager who cares about you, you will have an incredible experience.

    Cons

    Management - supposedly this has been a spot for improvement within the organization, but from mine and others' experience, getting placed with a good 'manager/person you report to' was luck of the draw. There seemed to be a fair amount of people who did not have the skills for being a mentor and really needed come training; while some others excelled at it.

    Work-life balance could be terrible depending on the project/project leader.

    Advice to Management

    Train (more) mid- and higher-level staff on the importance of mentoring and how it can be done in different ways. Not everyone is a natural at mentoring junior staff and this can create visible inequities among the staff.


  5. "Ok place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Manager in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Flexible work schedule for most staff

    Cons

    Absolutely no work life balance

    Advice to Management

    I have none to offer


  6. Helpful (3)

    "decent pay but high stress"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Test Developer
    Former Employee - Test Developer
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time

    Pros

    I worked with some very talented people and made some good connections. Pay was decent going in but then stagnated. Your experience can change drastically depending on who your manager is so if you get a good one you are likely to last longer.

    Cons

    Lots of doublespeak.
    We want you to have work life balance. Never miss a deadline.
    Delegate. If you want it done right do it yourself.
    Follow the procedues. Nobody follows the procedures. There's a procedure for that?
    Quality matters. Just get the work done.
    Aim for good enough. I'm sending this back, it is not good enough.

    Work distribution is unfair. Work/life balance is nearly impossible for some, perhaps attainable for others. Some people may be totally swamped while others fly under the radar. Perceptions held by management of many employees are full of wrong assumptions. Some people who are not ready or qualified to be promoted somehow are, and others who have the skills, experience, and work ethic for promotion are overlooked. Everybody plays by different rules. If you mangage to make a good impression, lots of free passes. If you make a bad impression, the good you do will mostly be overlooked and you are likely to be criticized no matter what approach you take (i.e. "Hey, slow down and focus more on quality" when you are told you work too fast and then "Hey, we need to get more productivity out of you" when you listen to the advice you got the last time around. The expectations are inconsistent, unclear, and seem to change depending on...well...who knows?

    Advice to Management

    Focus more on supporting, developing, training, and appreciating your employees. Do not promote people to managment and leadershop roles without training or mentoring them. Just because a person has a lot of experience or great content knowledge does not mean they know how to manage people. Seek honest feedback from your employees and show appreciation for those who work hard. If you are going to use metrics, make them realistic. Update them. Position people based on where they have interest and will best thrive. Teach your managers how to put some time into the front end to think through not only outcomes, but the best way to achieve them . Give them TIME to do this. Train and support your people, and get away from the "triage" model as a long-term, systematic approach. Don't use a 5-point rating scale for performance reviews and then tell people that getting a 5 is impossible, that a 4 is akin to a miracle, and that you will still be required to go above and beyond to get a 3. Take a look at the roots of the thematic issues that keep repeating in the organization. Why is the turnover so high? What are practices so inconsistent? Why is morale so low? Why are some people severely overworked and other people under-utilized? The people you hire will never be able to outperform the system you've put in place or rise above the culture you've created. I would highly suggest bringing in an outside consultant--there's a lot of potential within AIR that has yet to actualize.


  7. "Great place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Financial Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Financial Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Work life balance is great

    Cons

    Too much politics you need to be politically right

    Advice to Management

    To engage employees more often

  8. Helpful (12)

    "Smart people, sinking ship"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Researcher in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Senior Researcher in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I work with amazingly smart, friendly people. (Note that it depends where you work in AIR--some divisions like assessment are known snake pits).

    Compensation is good and the offices are really nice.

    Cons

    AIR lost a lot of bids, and some good people are getting laid off. Meanwhile, senior leadership is unwilling or unable to communicate what their plan is for keeping the company afloat. No one is addressing the very low morale. Many of us feel like our days are numbered. And when you feel like you're about to get laid off, why bother working hard?

    Advice to Management

    If you don't have a plan beyond "let's hope for more wins," we're all hosed.

    Address the low morale asap.

    American Institutes for Research Response

    Feb 21, 2019 – President and Chief Executive Officer

    Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased to know that you value your colleagues – the smart, talented and welcoming people who make up AIR. I also agree that we offer competitive compensation and... More


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Graduate School on Steroids"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Technical Assistance Consultant in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Technical Assistance Consultant in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Lots of intellectual responsibility and creativity.

    Cons

    Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Bad culture, everyone works on weekends (except me, ha!). Feels like graduate school, except worse, often.

    Advice to Management

    Provide support staff in-office.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Work/Life Balance is a Struggle"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Test Developer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Test Developer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research part-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great location in Georgetown. Flexibility to work from home depending on your manager. Many positions are remote. The benefits are decent and they have events that keep employees engaged (Ice cream socials, holiday parties, Pi day, happy hour, etc.). There's a mix of independent and collaborative work. If you work on site at any of the offices, there's usually a bagel or a donut day.

    Cons

    The assessment division of AIR continues to grow, but many of the test development staff are over worked due to this growth. The turnover is pretty high, and there is little to no training for new hires. Some managers play favorites, so if you aren't on their good side forget about any significant raise or promotion.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on retention. There have been some really talented people that have left within the past five years. Your employees want the company to grow, just not at the expense of work/life balance.