Animalz Employee Reviews about "leadership"
Updated Mar 9, 2023
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Top Review Highlights by Sentiment
- "Your fellow writers and editors are amazing people." (in 8 reviews)
- "The customers are great and the team is great." (in 7 reviews)
- "Decent benefits" (in 6 reviews)
- "Everyone is smart; no one personality dominates; and people are genuinely interesting." (in 5 reviews)
- "flexible hours (depending on where you live)." (in 4 reviews)
- "Instead of making cuts that might garner more attention or cost more in severance payouts, the current leadership seems to managing out all but the highest performing employees using performance improvement plans and other tactics to force people to quit." (in 13 reviews)
- "Pay is below market value." (in 5 reviews)
- "An incompetent and inexperienced leadership team that looks like a bunch of children pretend" (in 5 reviews)
- "There's no investment in ongoing training and development beyond employee onboarding and senior leadership takes a top" (in 4 reviews)
- "All the teams work in their own siloes and it's rare to see transparency and collaboration across teams." (in 4 reviews)
Ratings by Demographics
This rating reflects the overall rating of Animalz and is not affected by filters.
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Reviews about "leadership"Return to all Reviews
- Current Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
The only way to save this sinking ship is to fire the entire leadership team and start overFeb 7, 2023 - Senior Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
- Fully-remote - Lower-level employees are wildly talented, hardworking, and kind individuals that really look out for each other.
There is absolutely no ownership from leadership for any of the breakdowns in this organization. They do quarterly surveys to make lower-level employees feel like they 'have a voice' and then don't take any of the feedback. They are constantly re-organizing the same 'stuff' into different piles but don't actually address the core problems that have been repeated for years now. Most of the leadership, sales, and CSMs have never worked in content, so there is a huge lack of understanding about the work being done, and they won't listen to the people in the trenches doing the work. Turnover is crazy high because CMs are so burned out by the constant changes, workload, and general lack of organization. Backlogs are a constant issue, and customer churn is also high because of this. The CMs are some of the best I've ever worked with - absolutely brilliant folks - but they aren't given the opportunity to really do their best work because they're constantly trying to bail out a sinking ship. Promotion and career advancement are super subjective - there's no clear process for either - and is largely dependent on getting in with the right people. Leadership will say cutesy things like 'take care of your fam!' 'we totally support taking sick days!' 'feel free to cut back to take care of your sick family; we got your back!' and then fire people for actually doing that. If anyone challenges leadership, they're labeled as 'combative' and put on a shortlist for firing. Multiple people have been put on PIPs (performance improvement plans), worked insane hours to meet the expectations in the time set, and were still fired because leadership didn't like them. There's also a suspicious trend of minorities being let go by [she who shall remain nameless]. Leadership keeps promising employees that they'll look into providing healthcare for international employees and dependents, but it's been years now, and we're still waiting for movement on this. An example of how out of touch leadership is: they recently rolled out a massive new org structure they expect to be fully incorporated into the business within less than 30 days from its announcement. And this includes talent evaluations, firing, hiring, restructuring teams, and restructuring individual roles and responsibilities. The kicker is - they don't even have a process in place for knowledge transfer and training for these new roles. So folks are just supposed to scramble and figure it out - what leadership calls 'individual ownership' (a.k.a. figure it out because we're sure as heck not going to help you by defining a clear process for it). This and so much more... I don't even have enough time or space for this crap show. My advice to anyone looking to join Animalz: keep your head down, learn everything you can from other CMs and editors, and then run, far away, before you lose your soul (or your mind)Continue reading
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
Complete ChaosJan 14, 2022 - Content MarketerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
If you like managing your own work and don't need any support from other people, you might be fine. You can operate on your own island and have flexibility over your hours. The career opportunities are amazing... outside of Animalz! For the time being the experience is still worth something on a resume.
This company is chaos at every level. It's a cautionary tale of 'too big, too fast' without a good plan in place to support the growth. And now the company is paying for it. Content marketing managers (CMs) have to manage their own workloads with only a hokey homegrown system to keep track of deliverables. It is a wonder that anything gets delivered on time and shows a lack of commitment to company infrastructure. Delivery dates are frequently missed, with huge backlogs of work owed to clients. CMs are constantly stressed and running on empty. There was an attempt to add structure with new roles of Customer Success Managers but I feel bad for people in these roles. They're always pulled in a million directions so it only added a new layer of chaos. It's a band-aid approach for a hemorrhaging wound. Working at Animalz feels like crisis mode all the time between lack of any effective processes, employee turnover, and customer churn. The final red flag and the push I needed to send out my resume was watching talented and tenured people leave in droves. I'm sure someone from the organization will be along to comment and insist that change is in the works and change takes time. I wish I could say that I believed it, but I heard that claim over and over for more than a year. No one in leadership seems to have a clue how to right the ship and it's sinking fast.Continue reading
In 2021 we grew rapidly and in the process, we discovered some of our processes and systems weren’t as scalable as they needed to be. Once we saw the issues, we began addressing them in H2 2021. We also reduced our growth goals for 2022 by more than half, so we could avoid the issues we experienced in 2021. Over the first four months of 2022 we have: * Refined areas of ownership and expectations for all roles, especially our content manager role, with the aim of allowing the team to focus and work to their strengths. * Re-structured the company to give our managers more autonomy and agility in how they work. * Updated our pay and salary bands, to give us more flexibility to reward hard work and progress * Invested in updating core parts of our tool stack and systems. These changes are in addition to the many changes we made last year, including implementing annual market salary adjustments, creating custom workloads, implementing bi-annual bonuses, spot bonuses, and more. We continue to work on ways to improve our workload, pay, processes, and infrastructure. I appreciate candid feedback, and the opportunity to explain how we’re working to improve. If anyone reading has questions about how we’re supporting our team, let’s talk about it! - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
"Learn. Burn out. Leave." The Usual Animalz StoryMar 2, 2023 - Content Marketing Manager in New York, NYRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Not counting the extremely incompetent leadership, Animalz has some of the most talented people in content marketing. It's a privilege to work with them every single day. This agency is therefore great if you're relatively new in your content marketing career, and would like to strengthen your skills and hold yourself to a higher standard. To some extent, this agency is still regarded as one of the best content marketing agencies on the planet. While that reputation is now dying as a result of poor leadership, having the Animalz logo on your resume may help open some doors in your content marketing career. The job is also completely remote, which is a huge plus if you're not so big on commuting.
As many other reviews have pointed out, Animalz is currently in a death spiral. Morale is extremely low. Burnout is the norm. Employees have been leaving in droves. And customer churn is at an all-time high. The root cause for all of the above? An incompetent and inexperienced leadership team that looks like a bunch of children pretend-playing at running a company. Except, actual children tend to show signs of empathy for those around them, which the current leadership severely lacks. For starters, there is a huge disconnect between what’s promised to the clients (quality) and the internal expectations (quantity). Animalz has always positioned itself as a premium content marketing agency, offering attention to detail, great customer service, and top-notch content; all the qualities of a true “white glove” service. However, certain people in the leadership — who, mind you, couldn’t write a single blog post to save their lives — believe that producing content of that level is like snapping your fingers. If you fail to deliver a certain number of articles every 3 months (which you most likely would) you’ll get placed on a performance improvement plan by a certain, miserable person in the leadership. And if the stress of your job being constantly at risk isn’t enough, you get lumped together with a “Customer Success Manager,” whose JD is to essentially crack the whip on you to “GET THINGS DONE” because they can’t be bothered to manage expectations with the clients. Ultimately, you’ll end up getting burnt-out which you’ll never really recover from. These issues have been brought up with the leadership team MANY times. Employees have been voicing their concerns and letting them know that something about the process needs to change. Unfortunately, the leadership team simply refuses to listen to anything that those on the ground — the actual people earning revenue for the company — have to say. After completely ignoring the cries of the poor CMs, team leads, and editors below, what does the leadership do to “fix” the burnout problem? Planning a total organizational restructure that adds even more responsibilities to the people who are already overworked! That itself opened up an entirely new can of worms, as some seriously talented people were denied new “senior-level” positions for reasons that are extremely foolish. Now, those people are actively planning their exits from the company. I’m not going to go much deeper into this mess because it’s a dumpster fire of such a large magnitude that it’ll make this review super long. The point of sharing this was to show you the severe incompetence of the Animalz leadership. There are also little to no growth opportunities. Sure, you’ll learn how to write an incredible blog post, and pick up on some SEO and reporting skills. But that’s where the growth ends. The only way up is being a total suck-up. If you’re cool with that, there’s no stopping you from breaking the glass ceiling. But if you’re not, you’ll be forced to take initiative, and prove your worth and skills “on your own time.” And even then, if someone on the leadership team has a personal problem with you, you’ll end up staying where you are for the rest of your duration at Animalz.Continue reading
- Current Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
The best agency I've ever worked for!Aug 11, 2021 - Content ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
INCREDIBLE company culture that truly encourages growth by having open conversations about struggles and working together as team to solve them. You never have to be afraid of saying 'I don't know' or asking for help. The team motto is 'content writing is a team sport' and at Animalz they really live this out. They also really walk the talk when it comes to work-life balance and promoting mental and physical health. People openly message their teams and say 'hey I need a mental health day, be back tomorrow' and their manager will be the first to hop in and reply 'Great, hope you feel better!' There is so much support here. For being a 100% remote company there is also a robust work culture with a lot of opportunities to connect with people on a personal level (they even have scheduled 'watercooler talks' where you just talk with someone you don't know about life and get to know them). Their process is really driven by producing excellent content, but also cultivating excellent writers. They focus a lot on setting personal development goals and truly want to put things in place to help you get there, they actually put clearly outlined expectations and plans in place for you to get promoted and want to see you succeed. One obvious example of this is: when I applied they asked how much I wanted to make, I gave them a number and they said 'cool, but we think you're worth more than that, how about $20K more?' Our CEO is also great - super approachable - and the whole leadership team really cultivates a culture of transparecy which is great.
Because it's 100% remote there are a lot of tools to acclimate to and context switching can be a challenge. I know our leadership is putting several initiatives in place to address this though.Continue reading
Thank you for your feedback. We are proud of our team and the support that they offer! We are constantly meeting and brainstorming ways to help our writers develop their skills, so I’m glad that our model has helped you succeed. You are right about our tools. What worked for us as a company of 50 is no longer working at 100+. We are improving our tool stack in 2022 and making other changes that I think will help with this. Please feel free to reach out to me directly (or to your manager, or People Ops if that is more comfortable for you) if you have any additional ideas or feedback!
- Former Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
Not very organizedSep 30, 2022 - Content ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
You'll work with talented content folks who can help you level up your career.
The first thing I'd say is take these reviews seriously (If I did, I wouldn't have worked here). Animalz truly doesn't care about its people. The company is a mess and leadership doesn't mind sacrificing EVERYTHING to please customers and make profit. Internal systems do not exist. Leadership doesn't think through decisions enough before putting them out. So there're too many iterations along the way. For creative work, this isn't fair or productive. Also, you'll burn out and no one would care. Rather, they'll blame you for not being able to manage your workload. The vacation policy only exists on paper and you'd never be able to take enough time off to recharge. No one factors in the time and mental energy it takes to create high-quality content , so forget about doing your best work. The only way to survive is to churn out subpar pieces and hope customers do not notice or aren't ticked off enough to leave.Continue reading
- Current Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
Great culture and people, but we're burning out at both endsFeb 24, 2022 - Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
- Remote work with little supervision, allowing for flexibility to work basically whenever I want to. - Onboarding is thorough and ramps up to full production slowly - Working with some of the smartest, brightest minds in content marketing, especially the Quality Team (editors) and Team Leads - If you're lucky, being assigned to write for some big-name clients and getting to exercise writing for others to gain additional practice and experience in other verticals - Working with a time-zone diverse team across the world. - Decent salary with healthcare coverage for U.S., but nothing to write home about. Management says their goal is to be above 50% of the U.S. which means pay is just slightly above average, but you'll make way more working in-house at a tech company similar to one of our clients. - Three main tracks for career development: writing, leadership (strategy), editor. You can pursue whichever one speaks to you and your career goals. - Other CMs, your Team Lead and CSM are really supportive and uplifting of each other. No work drama/favorites, and opportunities to earn public recognition for doing a great job
- Hardcore burnout. Been here for about 6 months and I've reached full production (8 article-credits) ONCE. It's a constant stressor that I'm below expectations and even though mid-management (my Team Lead) is chill about it, the company being below production goals as a whole is something that's brought up often by upper management. - Under staffed. We don't have enough CMs to manage the workload we take on, which makes it difficult to deliver on our promises to clients. We don't utilize freelancers as much as we should, which means CMs work double to make sure pieces are delivered before they go on breaks. Also understaffed on editors and copyeditors, which means when they take breaks, the rest are overworked and everyone feels bad about it. - To go with point 2, there's a hiring freeze for CMs right now, while we still see 3-6 CMs quit/fired a month. The workload is unsustainable and leading to CMs burning out to over deliver and customers churning over not meeting expectations -- or multiple CMs working hard to deliver on backlogs, which there are MORE of than not. Meanwhile, we've had so many upper management hires in the last few months - I'm not entirely sure why. The CEO talks about the org restructure, the org restructure -- but none of that is benefiting the CMs, who do the bread and butter work of Animalz: creating good content. - Comp is just okay. It's above average for entry-level/early career CMs but plateaus. No 401k match, no employer contributions for dependent coverage. PTO (20 vacation days, 5 floating holidays) is prorated based on start date, so I only had 2-3 holidays when I started in Q3 2021 - one for Thanksgiving and 1.75 for Xmas. Unlimited sick days + personal days are hard to use/justify because you have to play massive catch up when you do take them. - Learning curve is steep. Our L&D dept of one tries her best to create new resources and update old ones for us, but the processes and tools are too many and too hard to keep track of. We need a simpler content pipeline, and less shared tools. We're also expected to do things that we haven't been trained on - like ideation and content strategy, which is very, very time-consuming and difficult - You don't get to pick your clients. I was placed on a highly technical customer whose content was extremely difficult to write. Sometimes clients can be a nightmare to work with - unresponsive, demanding, nitpicky. Part of being an agency is that we're always at the beck and call of the clients. Adding CSMs to the team has mitigated the amount of context switching CMs have to do to manage clients - It's draining and time consuming to context switch. We run meetings with clients, ideate and create new content strategy AND write two articles per week. It's a lot of work and I've pulled long nights and shifts to get work done. - It's difficult to level up and promote to get salary raises. While there are paths to career development, there's really no time to work on it. Where do I find the time to work on personal development and learning the skills necessary to level up (i.e. content strategy)? - leadership says DE&I is really important but I have yet to see that really exemplified. For example, auditing our documentation for inclusive language was done on a volunteer basis - but CMs are BUSY as mentioned before. - If you want to use your experience to apply for a job elsewhere, you'll have to be creative about your portfolio because we're legally not allowed to share who our clients are, and our writing becomes the IP of Animalz/Clients. Even if you get lucky and score the big accounts, you can't mention them. Can turn your job interviews into 'Source: Trust me, bro.' Hopefully, the skills you hone at Animalz speak for themselves though.Continue reading
We appreciate you taking the time to write such an honest review of your time on the team. We’re making headway on the things you call out, and are proud of our team for creating such a great culture. It takes time and energy to make change in a company of 100+ people, and I’m amazed at the way our team rise to this challenge every day. As of EOY 2021, each team member now has a custom workload. We’ve also refined the CM role to have fewer areas of ownership, and re-structured to manager role to focus on coaching and support for direct reports. We also re-worked our pay and salary bands, to give us more flexibility to reward hard work and progress, as well as making our succession planning and promotions process more transparent. As we go into Q2 of this year, we have a solid hiring plan in place, a new exec team, more capacity across the team, and plans in place to increase innovation and provide more opportunities for sustainable professional development. If you feel still burned out, reach out to a member of People Ops, or your manager. We have support structures in place.
- Former Employee, more than 3 years★★★★★
More churn than all the dairy farms in WisconsinSep 16, 2021 - Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
If you’re capable, driven, and have strong psychological stamina, you really can pretty much own end-to-end content production for some decent clients, maybe even a unicorn if you’re very lucky. “Ownership” is prized highly at Animalz, so if you’re happy taking the lead on a project from start to finish with minimal support––and I do mean minimal support––you’ll soon be able to translate that experience into a better gig at a much better company. For at least a little while longer, you can probably leverage Animalz’s formerly strong reputation into better career opportunities after you leave, though that window is closing rapidly. Same goes for your coworkers––I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the smartest, most talented people I’ve ever worked with in my career, though virtually all of them have left or been forced out by now.
Take a look at the other reviews on this page. See the ones that were obviously written under duress by junior hires, or maybe members of senior management themselves? The ones that all just happened to be published on August 11 because leadership panicked and didn’t even think to publish them over the course of a few weeks to make them seem more credible? The reviews even a child could spot as obvious fakes? That’s how stupid Animalz’s leadership thinks you are. They’re convinced you’re either too dumb or too desperate to see through their obvious lies, and make no mistake, they will lie to you––and keep lying to you––from your first day until the day you finally tire of it and quit. Animalz really could have been the very best content marketing agency in the world. They had a truly world-class team and a reputation to match. But instead of investing in that talent and building on that brand equity, they squandered it all in the name of wildly unsustainable growth for no other reason than to satisfy the founder’s greed. Everything that made this agency great has been sacrificed in the name of myopic, short-term growth, and even that has been jeopardized by senior leadership’s inability to admit they’re completely out of their depth. As other reviews have noted, churn is the only game in town at Animalz. It’s a constant race to the bottom between employee churn and client churn. Since April 2021, Animalz has steadily lost the majority of its most experienced, tenured people because the concept of retention is utterly alien to management. Burnout is endemic, and the company simply couldn’t care less. The CEO will try to tell you that the chronic staff turnover is the result of the pandemic, or “The Great Resignation,” or because “people just don’t want to work anymore,” but that’s because she’s a malignant narcissist with nothing but contempt for the people who work for her and thinks you’ll believe lazy, reductive nonsense. All but two of the companies listed in the “Work with cool buds” section of the website churned long, long ago. These days, Animalz will work with almost literally anybody willing to pay them, and is desperately leveraging what little brand equity they have left to secure new business and keep the lights on. Due to the constant state of utter chaos, clients are routinely “onboarded” without a dedicated writer. We’re not talking about tiny pre-seed startups here––we’re talking industry-leading enterprise firms with market caps of billions of dollars whose work is literally farmed out to mediocre freelancers from day one. The agency’s reliance on freelancers has become so dire that some clients have churned before a full-time content manager has even been assigned to their account because it became embarrassingly obvious that their work was being outsourced. Because they don’t understand or value editorial expertise, leadership really does believe that simplistic checklists and questionnaires––the “process” that leadership loves to talk about on podcasts––can replace genuine subject-matter expertise and editorial experience. They’ve created a revolving door of failure in which both clients and employees burn out hard, then churn. It’s completely unsustainable, and Animalz’s formerly strong reputation has sunk lower and lower as editorial standards have fallen. To say Animalz pays poorly would be a considerable understatement. For years, Animalz’s internal “development guidelines”––benchmarks that determined employees’ level and compensation––did not account for previous experience at all. Think about that for a second. You could literally be a journalist with 20 years of experience at a national publication (and we’ve had more than a couple), and you could easily be determined to be a Level 1 content manager earning $50k because you lack SEO experience. Yes, really. The company recently revised its levels system because manageent finally accepted they couldn’t attract quality candidates by asking them to literally do the jobs of three people AND pay 30-40% under market rate. Now, incoming new hires can and do earn more than multi-year veterans with significantly more experience thanks to a half-baked, discriminatory “banding” system. This was presented as an “investment in the company,” but it’s nothing more than a transparent attempt to pay new hires more money because they’re desperate to attract new people to replace the exodus of experienced people who have quit. A handful of existing staffers got modest raises when this banding system was introduced, but only the “team players”––several of our most tenured, experienced people were deliberately excluded from these raises out of spite. When pressed during a meeting, the Head of People Ops also refused to rule out the possibility of salaries being reduced under the new salary bands. The “benefits” at Animalz are pitiful. When one former colleague joined the company in 2019, the insurance offered by Animalz did not even qualify as legally acceptable healthcare coverage in that person’s state. The founder’s brilliant solution? Asking other male founders on Twitter what he should do about it, which was ultimately nothing for another year. Another colleague was paying more than $15,000 per year on insurance coverage for their family, but was told the company couldn’t offer coverage for dependents because it would cost the company a paltry $60k per year to do so. Another was unable to seek care for a medical condition that was interfering with their work at all because no reputable specialists in their state accepted Animalz’s dismal coverage. During the interview process, they might try to tempt you with “unlimited personal days” and “unlimited sick days.” In practice, as other reviewers have noted, these policies may as well not exist. Staff are responsible for sourcing their own writing coverage during periods of PTO––not their managers, for reasons which have never been explained––which typically means working a 60-hour week on either side of a five-day break because everybody is so chronically overworked that coverage simply isn’t an option. You might get lucky with freelancer coverage, but most of them will be too busy onboarding new clients. The company itself is held together with gum and duct tape. Data security and governance is a nightmare––100+ employees share a handful of unsecured Google account passwords to access critical tools and systems––and the entire company is built on a rat’s nest of random documents, misplaced spreadsheets, and broken webforms. Airtable integrations fail daily, nobody knows who should be responsible for anything, and all of this overhead is placed on a handful of already overburdened People Ops folks who keep this ship of fools running virtually single-handedly. If toxic positivity is a trigger for you, I strongly advise you to seek employment elsewhere. You’ll be gaslit over and over again by people who love to talk about “ownership” and “personal responsibility” but refuse to be held to account for the disastrous impacts of their terrible decisions. Any and all criticism––no matter how valid––is silenced. There is quite literally no forum in which any negative feedback is acceptable. Genuine criticism is dismissed as “venting” and used against people as evidence of them being “problematic.” Team leads have routinely been instructed to suppress negative feedback among their teams (including actively dissuading people from discussing unionization), and if you have a problem with anyone in a position of power, you’re literally on your own. Leadership is keenly aware of this significant power differential and frequently leverages it to avoid being held accountable. Animalz has become an increasingly authoritarian workplace over the past 18 months. Any vestiges of transparency (including salaries, which were once openly visible to everybody) is being dismantled; the CEO described salary transparency as “more trouble than it’s worth.” Decision-making processes are opaque at best, and you’ll receive simplistic, dismissive answers if you dare ask how certain decisions were made. You may be tempted to dismiss the above as nothing more than the bitterness of a former employee. Admittedly, it’s very difficult to reconcile Animalz’s former reputation in the industry with the reality of the day-to-day at the agency today, but everything above is true. Leadership’s only priority now is “controlling the narrative,” and they will do and say anything to manage the optics surrounding their failures and the deteriorating conditions at the agency as a whole. Whoever you are––whether you’re an experienced industry vet or a fresh graduate hoping to cut your teeth in an agency environment––you can do so much better. Some of us gave management the benefit of the doubt over and over again, only for our hard work and goodwill to be thrown in our faces. Please don’t make the same mistakes we did. Find a company that will truly value your skills, experience, and wellbeing, because Animalz simply won’t.Continue reading
It is challenging to respond to posts that contain incorrect information and insults. Abusive online behavior is not the purpose of this site, so responding at all feels like a sanctioning of inappropriate behavior and runs the risk of validating falsities. That said, we do read every single Glassdoor response and analyze alongside quarterly team engagement surveys, exit interviews, and ongoing feedback shared by the team to prioritize changes and improvements to the company. Here are some of the changes we made in 2021: * redefined roles and goals to reduce workload and allow for more time for focused work * restructured the org to improve team and customer communication and in turn, content quality * elevated key team members to help us architect the future of the company * made market adjustments to salaries across roles * implemented an ICP to ensure we’re taking on only best-fit customers Most drastically, we paused sales for a month and adjusted our revenue goal down significantly in order to focus on team and customer experience. We also tapped into our runway budget to give the team bonuses based on our previously higher revenue goal, so they were not impacted by changes in the budget. I genuinely care about this company, our team, and our customers. Improvements to the company will never be “complete” as we will continue to uncover (and create!) new challenges as we grow. I am endlessly grateful for our teammates who have surfaced opportunities and helped implement solutions. If anyone reading has questions or concerns, let’s talk about it! * Book a meeting: https://calendly.com/devin-emily/30min * Send me an email: email@example.com
- Current Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
It's truly a joy to work hereNov 18, 2020 - Content Marketing Manager in ParisRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Animalz is the first place I've worked where I really feel confident in the leadership team. They're still learning, but they have a clear, competent vision for the company, and they lead with empathy. Everyone who works here is kind. I could chat with people all day in Slack. Work is intellectually challenging, and there are tons of learning opportunities. Promotions are frequent, and professional development is a priority.
It's hard to strike a work life balance when you're full-time remote. It can also be isolating. But, there is enough external pressure to keep you motivated, and employees are active on Slack and receptive if you want to schedule some 1:1 zoom time. Ramp up when you first join is also overwhelming. There's a lot of processes to learn, and a very specific way the editing team expects you to write. I'd also read some negative reviews on here that made me afraid to ask questions and really be myself. But those reviews were wrong, everyone is very kind and helpful, and the job - and Animalz way of writing - get easier. Pay can be a con, depending on where you live. If you're in NYC, for example, it's not great. If you're in Europe or middle America, it's excellent.Continue reading
Thank you so much for the kind words!
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
A company run on cynicismJan 9, 2023 - Content Manager in New York, NYRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
If you’re someone who’s terrific at context switching, and a very competent (and patient) writer, Animalz was once a pretty neat gig. The pay was and remains awful relative to US market rates, but the previously high-trust, low-oversight management approach meant it used to be easy for skilled people to do work and own their own calendars by-and-large. This made the place a mecca for people who worked to live, instead of those who live to work, and for people who had other projects/businesses/side-hustles to also give their attentions to. However, I am currently talking about a completely different company (the Animalz of the past) than the one I am about to talk about (the Animalz of the more-recent-past and present).
Animalz is an absolute textbook of mismanagement – in my time the company went from being in a position of imperious advantage through the COVID period to being in an absolute death spiral now. The company is awash in cynicism at every level. Shocking rates of pay compared to market averages. No-clue leadership team rinsing the company for massive salaries and reciting Monty Python bits during All-Hands despite catastrophic staff churn and client churn. Product announcements than come to nothing. Deafeningly insensitive attempts at DEI. If you’re a writer here you’ll pretty quickly start wondering why you’re doing a lot of customer success and strategy work, despite the fact that: there is almost certainly a CSM and a strategist on your team; they both get paid more than you; and, in the present climate, their jobs are more secure than yours. Idiotic org chart management has plagued Animalz for two years at least while prior management play-acted that the company – a standard-issue content farm – was actually a technology startup. CSMs, for instance, are redundant for a company that sells something so simple and that most clients, unfortunately, treat as a tiresome irrelevance anyway. No one in the ‘product’ division ever had a clue about product, and the Animalz array remained sadly undiversified despite the fact that the company would now be printing money if they’d invested in, say, video content during the pandemic. As with all mismanaged companies, incentives for Animalz employees are absolutely all over the place. Knowing that there’s not enough work to go around, the leadership team decided to impose production quotas. This was such a self-own that, despite the initiative ostensibly being put in place to increase output, it led to the company firing or downgrading a number of their best people just because they hadn’t been given enough work during a given month to meet quota or, as is incredibly frequently the case, because the work they’d done had been improperly billed. Animalz has no institutional memory and does not account for historical productivity; it arbitrarily assigned a uniform quota, and anyone who was below it after a couple months was sent to the slaughterhouse, irrespective of specific circumstances (including being on vacation, illness etc.). Again, these quotas are mandated despite: a) a lack of available work b) a lack of training for new CMs, several of whom I mentored and who had horrific experiences here c) imbalanced distribution of duties among the team, so that CM workloads frequently get overwhelming, while non-CMs bear no responsibility whatsoever for deliverables or performance d) the fact that you as a writer are not even going to be paid market rate for your experience or skills, while doing 2.5 jobs, at least This complete waking nightmare for writers is not made any easier by Animalz’s pointlessly over-elaborated editing schema. While individual editors here are good at what they do, the editing norms at Animalz appear to take it as given that all of the company’s writers can’t write, and that all of the readers of the company’s work aren’t bright enough to understand even the most familiar turns of figurative language. Not a good basis for getting the best possible work out of your writing stable. Training and institutional knowledge access are both non-existent. I’d be astonished if the company still exists for all intents and purposes in a year – best case scenario it will have morphed into an AI content farm (a Christmas which a great many of the more turkey-minded staff seem weirdly enthusiastic about). Plenty of other perfectly good writers will have been ground through the mill by then, whatever the outcome.Continue reading
- Former Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
From the perspective of a Content Manager — it’s not goodAug 31, 2021 - Content ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Your fellow writers and editors are amazing people. They are talented people. Your direct manager really does care about you, your work, your experience. Unfortunately your direct manager is unable to make most necessary changes to the teams and processes that everyone needs to be successful. Exposure to some really cool clients. Truly remote, * kind of sort of * flexible hours (depending on where you live). Your peers live around the globe. I’m pretty sure all six inhabited continents are represented in some way. It should be noted that regardless of where you live, you are expected to work mostly Eastern US hours. I’m going to list benefits as a pro because they are much better than a lot of people have access to, however, I would not consider them “competitive” or “really great.” PTO is 20 days + 5 floating holidays. There are “unlimited” sick and personal days. However, given the nature of the business, it’s hard to really take quality time off because it means more work and stress on the other end for lost time and missed quotas, or asking other team members to take your work while you’re gone, or finding freelancer coverage for yourself while you’re gone. Regardless of where you live, bank holidays/federal holidays are not recognized (there are 11 in the US). This is where you can use your 5 floating holidays. It’s also worth noting if you aren’t US based, you are an independent contractor, and as such, you are not entitled to any benefits. This is despite the fact their website says everyone is hired as a “full time” employee. There is also no dependent coverage. Working here might be a good fit if it’s your first job, or you are brand new to content marketing. The pay is somewhat decent by that standard.
Both employee churn and customer churn is bad. Employee churn is the worst I’ve ever seen at any company I’ve worked for. At the time of this writing, most people seem to be leaving the company after having worked only six to nine months. Though leadership will tell you at a 100 person company, losing an average of four employees a month is * totally normal. * There’s non-solicitation clauses added to client contracts, saying that no Animalz employee can work for them for two years. Usually non-solicitation clauses are added to a * worker’s * contract to stop them from going to work for the competition in fear of sharing secrets and processes. This can’t be said for Animalz. There is no secret sauce strategy or process at Animalz (though their PR stunts would suggest otherwise) — the entire company is successful because the people who work(ed) there are smart. If you ever want another job (and you will) this is not the place for you as you will not be able to work at any company that has used Animalz. If you have any experience, or a particular niche skillset or knowledge, the pay is not even a little bit competitive. Animalz is likely not going to do much to further your career if you already have experience. You’ll recognize pretty quickly your skillsets are being taken advantage of and unfairly compensated for. They purposefully hire way below what they know you’re worth and promise to “promote you quickly.” Some people get promoted, others do not. Their transparent salary system was a sham and they’ve since replaced it with salary bands that have nonsensical requirements and actually caps out individual contributors at a lower salary than the older leveling system. It’s very clear their new plan is to keep people at low salaries, burn them out, then replace them. There is no structure to grow people. Leadership is really good at making sure new employees don’t see how problematic things are until a few months in. In your first few months you’ll likely be asked to write a Glassdoor review by more than one management team member, because in your first few months you’ll likely have a positive view of the company (hint). You know it’s a bad sign when the only active, positive people in meetings, video chats, and on Slack are those who have all been there less than 3 months. I re-read the review someone wrote in 2019 about what life is really like at Animalz, and unfortunately it seems not a lot has changed since then. People have been complaining about the tools and processes for a very long time. They are not scaling with company growth. At all. Dealing with these unworkable tools and process takes up so much of your time it’s astounding. You won’t have direct access to the tools you need. Accounts are either a giant shared email (which comes with problems), or it’s potentially under someone else’s work email (that may not even work there anymore)! People have to bug other people in Slack for passwords or to get 2-factor codes for a tool they’re using someone else’s email for. The whole workflow is chaos. But leadership continues to say everything is fine, because surveys show people are fine with the tools. Yes, when your entire staff is constantly churning and the majority of them are brand new, they will not spot the problems with workflows and tools. Leadership is dismissive of those who have been at the company a while who give negative feedback because it is undoubtably a smaller percentage, and therefore in the minority. This is no-doubt used as an excuse to not invest money into working processes. There’s been a huge breakdown between two tools that are integral to the company and instead of fixing them, leadership’s response was to tell everyone that they need to practice the value of “ownership” and deal with it themselves. The way they deal with internal tools is actually frightening, both from an employee perspective as well as a security perspective. The work-life balance is an interesting one. Some people seem to do okay and some people are continuously working 60+ hours a week to get things done. Yet, this has nothing to do with how talented someone is or how time-oriented they are. This is pretty much up to luck on who your clients are. Some clients are easy. Some clients are toxic. The current growth-over-everything mindset means the company is taking on clients regardless of if there’s bandwidth to work with them, regardless of how niche or technical they want their content, regardless of if they have buy-in to be a part of the feedback loop and have time to work with a CM. There is no matching process for clients and CMs. It very quickly starts to feel like a content farm. They have implemented “custom workloads” to adjust for burnout, however, “custom workloads” seem to be a thing that is dangled in front of everyone, but no one really knows how it’s supposed to work — most people haven’t seen any reasonable change. In fact, in a recent company update, leadership was bragging about how they were able to get new hires to be putting out content at the highest level of the old quota system in their third month. So which is it? Do people get custom workloads, or do they need to quickly learn to churn out content based on the old quota system? No one knows. I would suggest you seek out a CM on LinkedIn who has been at Animalz at least 6 months and ask what the current workload situation is like. If your job is a CM, be prepared to be a CM, strategist, project manager, and account manager. You have to manage and keep track of the entire client relationship, as well as strategize, write, perform administrative duties, and provide reporting (reporting is a nightmare and mostly always broken). If you happen to be a freelancer who is thinking about working here, this job is basically still freelancing, except you don’t have any control over which clients you work with. Your direct manager is theoretically supposed to be a strategist, and they are talented strategists, but they have no time to actually help with strategy — they are constantly people managing as well as onboarding both new clients and employees. And they are usually also managing freelancers, as the business does rely heavily on freelancers to keep up to pace with clients. They have plans to introduce a new team structure, however that plan is little more than a few bullet points on a slide. There’s no details, no job descriptions, no actual answers on how any of it will work. CMs, regardless of their level will still have to carry the brunt of all the work until it's figured out and then won’t be promoted even though they’ve been doing all the work. If you are brand new to content marketing, don’t expect much of a supportive education here. You need to do it on your own time and likely find your own resources. They claim you can get a solid education on strategy, SEO, and writing, however no one has time to teach you anything. People will try to be helpful and share knowledge, but you can also see that most people around you are overworked and burnt out. It’s simply not a good learning environment. Beyond that, tenured and experienced employees are leaving at a rapid rate, leaving few employees left who know the business to learn from anyway. There has been so much lip service about making “ideal customer profiles” to match with CMs, about how they want to integrate L&D to invest in people, how they want to create custom workloads rather than a straight quota based system, how they want to be more active with DEI. None of these things seem to be able to move past the planning phase. There is no concrete timeline or real action being taken on any of it. Again, I would suggest seeking out a current CM at the company who has been there more than 6 months to get an accurate view of the current state of these things. And lastly, leadership. Toxic positivity and deflection seems to be at the core of leadership. Leadership will talk your ear off about transparency, but refuses to answer hard questions or address anything negative. Every single problem the company has is ignored (or blamed on the pandemic) until the issue feels like it’s going to cause an implosion. I think the delusion they have is that if they don’t talk about it, employees will forget the issues exist. Churn rates say otherwise. They very clearly focus on keeping brand new employees happy and write off existing employees as soon as it’s clear those employees no longer think the company is shiny and perfect, or have the audacity to ask a tough question and expect a real answer. Leadership consistently makes public posts or gives interviews about how great the Animalz process is and how Animalz is different. These posts kill employee morale because the posts are so hypocritical and not realistic to the experience and process at all. How Animalz says it operates and how it actually operates is a difference of day and night. If in the end you decide to work for Animalz, I highly suggest you watch any video that is available of company all-hands meetings and the CEO’s office hours (from the past four/five months of this posting at least). They are all recorded and made available to employees who couldn’t attend. These videos will shed some light on the deflection and failure to address the reality of the issues.Continue reading
Thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and honest review of your experience at Animalz. In the last few months, we have made changes to address several of the issues you raise here and have concrete plans to address many of the other concerns to improve our team and customer experience. Saying this out loud because it’s an important perspective for anyone reading; change does take time, especially as an organization that’s 100+ people. Before we address individual issues, it’s important to share that we know the path forward to create change will require input across the organization. Coming out of 2020, Devin and I both felt like we needed to do everything we could to shield our team from problems, failing to realize that by bringing more folks into our decision-making process, we’ll be able to move forward on solutions faster. The reason we’ve spoken about the org restructure for a few months is because we needed time to create new roles (6), promote people (10+) and from a belief that to be successful, we have to focus on who and then what: https://www.jimcollins.com/concepts/first-who-then-what.html. Our new structure is designed to give ownership to more of the people that have been instrumental in building Animalz and creating the product that we’re known for. In terms of what we’ve started to fix, we’ve improved compensation, we’re creating a clearer process for promotions and career changes, continued to have conversations about custom workloads and increased capacity on the team to make custom workloads possible. Our GM has led the charge on specializing each role so that Content Managers can focus on their zone of genius: writing, with the support of other team members on strategy and customer success respectively. In the new team structure, each team will have more opportunity to decide where new customers go, and we have added skills/interests into BambooHR + a pre-onboarding step with our customers to facilitate stronger customer matches. As we look ahead to 2022, we’re excited to work with a cross-section of leaders to address the other issues you’ve raised. The systems and processes that worked when we were 20 or 50 people are breaking, and department leads have shared ideas to improve our production pipeline, our strategy process, and more. So excited to tackle these opportunities in Q1! We are a forever work in progress but are sharing this knowing that we’re making steps in the right direction. If you’re reading this from the outside and want to discuss questions or concerns raised in this review further, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll gladly connect you with a current team member to share their perspective.