American Institutes for Research Employee Reviews | Glassdoor

American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated March 21, 2017
241 reviews

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Full-time Part-time

2.8
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American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers
David Myers
86 Ratings

241 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work-life balance can be challenging, as well as navigating the resources available to employees (in 26 reviews)

  • SVPs are generally hard-charging and unwilling to compromise with their direct reports and the management-level staff actually leading the work (in 11 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    "Great place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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 (1)

    "Average working experience"

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

    Pros

    Most people are friendly enough

    Cons

    Not much opportunity for advancement


  3. "Engaging Work, Complicated Systems"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    Smart, dedicated colleagues. Interesting projects serving real needs in the field.

    Cons

    It feels like the management structures and systems are constantly changing. Supports for lower-tier staff could be improved.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Good company that is now poorly managed"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    There is a lot of interesting work at AIR on many topics. You can learn a lot, and company does help you go to school.

    People you work with are great and they want to do a good job.

    Cons

    Company structure keeps changing with no benefit to getting work done. There seem to more managers and support jobs every month.

    Senior managers are very remote. Middle managers care more about pushing staff to get new business than making sure work is done well. People now fear they won't keep their jobs unless they work crazy hours. There was a big layoff last year. Morale has really fallen.

    Advice to Management

    Talk with people and figure out what support they need. Meet with staff. Improve communication!


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Poor leadership; limited opportunity; zero stars"

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

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

    Pros

    Good benefits and sometimes flexible work schedule.

    Cons

    There is no option for zero stars but that is what it deserves. Management is horrible. Most have never actually done the work so they do not understand what they are asking their employees to do. They regularly underestimate the time and effort needed to complete a task which leaves employees overworked. They do not invest properly in business development. Opportunity for professional development is unequal and not transparent. Instead of promoting from within, they bring in people from outside to leadership positions.

    Advice to Management

    Most of us wish you would just leave. But if you insist on staying, listen to your employees and promote from within based on actual skills, not just the person who kisses your behind.


  7. "Review on AIR"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    Good working environment, and nice people

    Cons

    Too much focus on details


  8. Helpful (4)

    "Researcher"

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

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time

    Pros

    It's a great place for a career in social sciences research because your colleagues are very accomplished and the company is interested in hiring great talent to support project work. Researchers/colleagues are generally great, hardworking people. There are many opportunities to work on a variety or specialized set of projects.

    Cons

    Compensation is not a livable wage for the amount of work demanded and in order to move up the career ladder. Some of their leadership practices are lip service at best.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your employees on the ground and pay fair wages to your researchers not just your C-suite.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Remote work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Principal Project Specialist in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Principal Project Specialist in Washington, DC

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

    Pros

    Has one of the most progressive approaches to teleworking with options to work in different locations or work from home. Have great systems to support employees to work from home.

    Cons

    Some staff didn't like having tracking software on their phones and laptops - but I think it was a great for keeping everyone accountable about their remote work hours.


  10. "Decent job"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Client Service Representative in Columbus, OH
    Current Employee - Client Service Representative in Columbus, OH
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Decent starting pay. Flexible hours. Benefits are decent to be for starting employees. The environment is very conducive to making friends. There is a real sense of comradery among your coworkers

    Cons

    Not much upward mobility potential without switching departments. For a company based around research, there doesn't seem to be any incentive based program to go back to school.

    Advice to Management

    Have potential for starting employees in the Call Processing Centers to have a clear path to move up, or move to different areas in the company, to experience true upward mobility in a company


  11. Helpful (7)

    "Organization Lacks Direction"

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

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

    Pros

    Great benefits including healthcare, 403b (retirement), parking/transit, office parties/happy hours, and "bagel Wednesday."

    Great people - staff overall are really passionate about their work to improve people's lives in education, healthcare, social development, etc. and are generally great to work with. Everyone is extremely hard-working.

    Offices all over the U.S. allow for staff to move locations and travel and newly opened offices are very nicely designed, with lots of natural light, fun furniture, and bright colors.

    The work is also great - lots of projects have real impacts on schools, teachers, students, patients, seniors/elderly, families, etc. AIR also generally doesn't have a corporate-style dress code.

    Cons

    Beware, AIR is not a nonprofit. It is a corporate, not-for-profit organization that basically does consulting work with a large emphasis on research. It is a corporation that doesn't pay its board. Office atmospheres are more laid back than traditional corporations, but the structure, rewards/pay, and culture are all reminiscent of a large corporate consulting firm. Note: the professional services division is more laid back than the assessment division.

    AIR lacks a strategic vision and the leadership necessary to realize that vision. Senior Vice Presidents create their own fiefdoms, which are often in conflict with each other's goals and occasionally with the goals of the organization as a whole. SVPs are generally hard-charging and unwilling to compromise with their direct reports and the management-level staff actually leading the work. There seems to be a complete lack of appreciation for input from the rest of the staff at the top of the organization, as if leadership knows everything about the work, even though they're not actually staffed on projects or working with clients (mainly because they're too expensive).

    AIR is top-heavy, and like many corporate organizations, the top 1-2% seem to make about 50% of the money. The organization recently promoted a group of high-level, high-earning staff to Vice President, without seeing any current VPs or SVPs leave the organization - which means their expenditures on staff went up without also rewarding mid-level and junior staff. It seems like the top people are the only ones who are rewarded with pay.

    Many VPs lack appreciation for work-life balance, which trickles down to even the most junior staff. And while some of the VPs are very entrenched in and knowledgeable about the work of their groups, some are completely clueless but don't feel the need to learn about their staff and what they do.

    The CEO lacks trust for most employees outside his immediate circle and regularly criticizes AIR's work in large internal meetings, including hardworking employees on both the project and infrastructure/overhead teams. He seems to be against social/technological advancement (unless it applies to quantitative research).

    Hardworking and talented employees are only rewarded with more work and not necessarily with promotions or decent raises, which makes them more likely to burn out. The promotion process is not transparent at all. Very few people in the organization seem to understand how an employee can work for a promotion or salary increase, aside from being put up for one by their staff manager multiple times. Most mid-level promotions seem to take about 2-3 years from planning to completion. There are hardworking staff who have been at the same level for 5+ years. Yet there are very few supports for career development.

    Although AIR encourages work-life balance, many junior and mid-level staff still feel pressured to work nights and weekends, answering emails when their superiors contact them in off hours. Many times this lack of regard for work-life balance is actually rewarded, especially at the top.

    Because AIR refuses to invest in infrastructure, administrative staff is stretched way too thin. Most junior and even some mid-level staff are given administrative responsibilities on projects, instead of valuable learning opportunities to grow their careers in research and technical assistance. Almost everyone in the organization is overstaffed, and almost all infrastructure teams are too small.

    AIR really needs a CEO and leadership team who can manage a bunch of strong-willed people with strong personalities, and keep them working together to move in the right direction. They also need to start embracing the 21st century when it comes to communications and business development, including investing in business strategy, sales, and marketing.

    Advice to Management

    Listen more to your employees and don't be afraid of constructive feedback, including from junior and mid-level staff. Make ALL employees feel valued, no matter what level they are.

    Please start thinking about new and innovative techniques for business development. The world is over-saturated with information - please stop believing that just putting good research out there will guarantee new clients.

    And please stop rewarding behavior the organization claims to be at odds with (lack of respect for work-life balance, creating a culture of intimidation, etc.).



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