American Institutes for Research Reviews | Glassdoor

American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated October 21, 2017
272 reviews

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2.9
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American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers
David Myers
97 Ratings

272 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Some sections of the organization struggle with work-life balance (in 35 reviews)

  • unfair and abusive treatment of staff by upper management (in 12 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (4)

    "Great place to work"

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

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

    Pros

    Great experience for conducting research that matters for governments. Smart colleagues that work hard. Strong research assistants and good organization.

    Cons

    Hard work is needed. Large organization, which brings some bureaucracy. Not always clear how organizational structures work. Overall a great place to work.

    Advice to Management

    Continue on the current path and invest strategically in new research opportunities for the long term. Provide incentives to research associates to stay longer.


  2. Helpful (14)

    "Think twice before accepting a job at AIR"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Test Development Specialist in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Test Development Specialist in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The location of their HQ--Georgetown--can't be beat. Salaries are competitive, and there are many bright, engaging people there. Those in the In-Crowd are well rewarded.

    Cons

    I don't know about other divisions (I've heard they're much better), but the assessment division has a well-deserved reputation for being extremely oppressive and unfair to employees. (Turnover is very high.) There is a definite "in-crowd" mentality, overtly stated as, "if you want to be successful here, you have to know how to / be willing to socialize appropriately" (i.e., you will be rewarded for your ability to endure and enjoy late-night gatherings with management). Those whose first obligation is to family or to a good night's sleep are penalized accordingly. Good performance is rewarded only for those in this in-crowd. With very few exceptions, excellent performance evaluations do not translate into raises or promotions for those unwilling to conform. And like many other places with an academic bent, pedigree is paramount. A degree from a top college or university carries much more weight than years of experience and good work, even when the over-pedigreed are under-performing.

    Unrealistic timelines and very tight budgets contribute to the high levels of frustration.

    Advice to Management

    Learn from the turnover, the lawsuits, the pervasive anger. It's not a big mystery that so many employees at every level are unhappy.

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Terrible place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Terrible Place to Work in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Terrible Place to Work in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Nice building, Friendly mail room staff

    Cons

    High turnover, two-faced managers, low pay, HR only there to help the project managers. My project managers were good fundraisers, but nutty in terms of day-to-day management. They move staff offices like a game of musical chairs.

    Advice to Management

    Make the HR department more open to staff members.


  4. Helpful (11)

    "Don't work there"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Nice office location, generally smart staff, casual office.

    Cons

    Management 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 Management

    Respect and communicate with your staff.


  5. Helpful (9)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Communications in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Communications in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Not 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.

    Cons

    Complete 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 Management

    Consider 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.


  6. Helpful (20)

    "Started great, ended as my most negative employment experience."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Research Associate in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The 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.

    Cons

    I 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 Management

    Follow 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.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Would not recommend..."

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

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time

    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 Management

    Treat employees with more respect. Learn how to manage.

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Working here is torture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Communication Specialist
    Current Employee - Communication Specialist
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Flex 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

    Cons

    No 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 Management

    Stop 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


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Not good for entry-level staff"

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

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Don'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 Management

    After 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.


  10. Helpful (7)

    "high living expense with low pay and much much much work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time

    Pros

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

    Cons

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


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