Animalz Employee Reviews about "pay"
Updated Mar 9, 2023
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Found 24 of over 57 reviews
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Got a burning question about Animalz? Just ask!
I recently received an offer from iProspect (part of Dentsu) I’ve heard ups and downs about this company. I currently work for a great company and not sure if I should leave. The new opportunity pays a lot more than I currently make. Does anyone have any advice about this company and whether I should take the job or not?
Senior Vice President
Role at WPP OpenX new company ? I was approached for regional role. I’m still wrapping my brain around the model. Seems good? Always hard to say from ppt slides vs reality. Any thoughts or insights? What’s the culture like? Vision? Leadership? Any pros/cons appreciated
What are your colleagues talking about?
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 "pay"Return to all Reviews
- Current Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
Executive leadership supports me (but middle management not so much)Aug 11, 2021 - Senior Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
This woman-led company is fiercely loyal to its employees (that's me!) and prioritizes the team's well being above all else. This, in turn, allows me to do my best work consistently. And of course that makes our customers happy.
Middle management feels disorganized and underprepared to handle the issues I need support with. I often feel like I'm doing work that's above my pay grade.Continue reading
Hello! I’m glad you are enjoying the culture and the people at Animalz, and I appreciate your sharing constructive feedback on how we can improve. It is really helpful :) We introduced a new layer of management in the second half of 2021, and your feedback can help us continue coaching them and improve their leadership. I view this change in two phases: implementation and refinement. We have implemented the company reorg and added new roles, and now we need to work on refining the system to ensure it's working smoothly and supportively for everyone. Please feel free to reach out to me to share more about your experience and/or ask questions. If you don't feel comfortable sharing with me, you can leave private feedback in Lattice, use our anonymous Q&A form or talk to People Ops (Nicole Nesman) as well :)
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
A chaotic, poorly-run content mill masquerading as a "premium" agencyDec 15, 2022 - Content Marketing ManagerRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Animalz has a knack for hiring amazing people. The editors, writers, and most of the team leads are talented and empathetic, really focusing on teamwork. The editors especially will force you to improve your writing through their high standards, discerning eyes, and constructive feedback. I became a much better content marketer under my team lead's direction and my editor's guidance. Truly flexible hours because the workforce is globally distributed. Outside of meetings with your team and your clients, you can do your work whenever you want. If you're lucky, you get to write for big-name clients in tech, and usually will be able to gain additional experience writing across verticals. While most clients sign on for blog posts or articles, some clients request different kinds of content that you can use to fill your portfolio, like social media copy for Twitter or LinkedIn, copywriting for landing pages, whitepapers, and eBooks. The Animalz brand is relatively well-known in the content marketing world, built mostly on its past reputation more than its current state. Having Animalz on your resume alone can open a lot of doors for freelancing and job hunting.
Animalz has been rapidly spiraling toward its doom for a while now. Customer churn due to both the state of the tech industry and Animalz's high price point is ridiculously high. And employee attrition is right there too. Morale sank to rock bottom after three highly-respected editors were unceremoniously and suddenly laid off in November. Scheduled cost of living adjustments and promotion cycles were put on indefinite freeze until leadership could bring Animalz out of its financial nose dive. There are no professional development or growth opportunities like an upskill fund, structured content marketing courses (which you'd think Animalz could develop with the combined talent that lives there) -- or even time for CMs to upskill with their rigorous workloads. Given all these factors, why would anyone choose to stick with the company when the company hasn't shown any commitment to us, the employees? Leadership states that they've been focused on bettering the financials of the company first by focusing on production and developing its new AI content service, and employee retention and development have had to sit on the back burner in the meantime. In fact, the attrition has been called out as a positive because leadership didn't have to lay off any CMs to match our decreasing customer base. While I acknowledge that some of my coworkers have had nothing but positive experiences working at Animalz, that hasn't been true for myself and many current and ex-colleagues. There's a reason why the average tenure of an Animalz employee is just over a year, according to LinkedIn. It's because most sane content marketers that focus on quality of work over quantity work aren't set up to succeed at Animalz. There are so many systemic issues at Animalz, but the main problem that bleeds into all the others: The leaders at the helm of the company making the big business decisions have no idea what they're doing, and don't lead with empathy for the people actually doing the work that Animalz sells - CMs, editors, TLs and CSMs. When I started at Animalz, the agency was in the midst of a furious hiring spree to catch up with the unsustainable workloads they had signed due to onboarding new clients. My client already had a backlog before my first day because they had been waiting for me to start. Backlogs and being behind on client work is a common theme at Animalz and leadership treats it like a failure on the part of CMs, TLs and CSMs when it's a process issue. Production goals are extremely difficult for most CMs to meet. You're expected to write 8 high-quality articles or an equivalent length per month (~2 per week). This doesn't sound like much at first, but the work pace is grueling, especially with the number of times your drafts need to be reviewed if you're under L4. This makes it extremely easy to fall behind on delivery dates and your KPIs -- and then stay behind forever. And that's exactly what happened to me. I started trying to work overtime to catch up but I could never reach that unattainable 8-article goal due to my clients not giving approvals in time and the extra responsibilities we're expected to do -- client revisions for each piece, monthly reporting and client meetings, doing ideation and creating content briefs. Not to mention my own personal issues outside of work, outside of my control. Inevitably, I started burning out just 6 months into my Animalz experience. If I had to point to a single defining moment as the point of no return for Animalz, it would be when a specific person was hired to whip CMs and TLs into shape so that the company would increase production. The processes she's put in place penalize CMs for not delivering a full 8 credits every month, but doesn't allow room or understanding for the delays and issues that cause us to not be able to do so. Under her watchful eye, anyone with low monthly production averages gets flagged as underperformers. They get put on performance improvement plans, regardless of whether or not their Team Lead agrees with the decision, to try to manage them out or squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of them forcefully. Some of our international employees with lower KPIs have been placed without notice on a pay-per-credit model -- or even let go with no notice. Most importantly, we were told if you can't maintain a 3-month rolling monthly average of 6.5 articles, you can't take time off. When you put an already-worn axe to the grinder, something's got to give. For me, that was my mental and physical health. I wanted so badly to take some PTO time off to recover, but the company moved from 20 days PTO to 'unlimited' PTO - with the caveat that you had to be meeting your 3-month production average of 6.5 credits. In a perfect world, where everything goes right -- yes, 6.5 credits wouldn't be unreasonable to expect. But for those of us working on the ground level, we know it's not possible for many of us - especially those with any form of neurodivergence. I was unable to take time off... and so I continued to burn out until there was nothing left of me to give until finally, I flunked out of Animalz. Despite the quality of my work constantly being praised by editors, clients, my TL and CSM, I was an underperformer based solely on quantity - which is the main metric by which leadership evaluates your work. There is no empathy for the hard, meaningful work that we do. We're treated like robots, supposed to churn out content day after day. Leadership lacks the fundamental understanding of what goes into creating content for our clients; they really believe that you should be spending two days per article, even accounting for editorial review cycles and queues, and use one day for the other work tasks heaped on us. Despite the flexible schedules, there is no work-life balance. The delivery date is supreme; I know several other CMs and I have pulled allnighters and worked weekends to get articles submitted to the editing queues on time... and pray that the editors, who are now very overworked doing 1.5x their previous workloads, can get feedback to you in time to deliver. It's common nowadays for me to see my editor log in early and work late to make sure we all get our pieces back by end of day, which is really disheartening. As a former colleague noted in their review, Animalz causes many of us to develop or worsen problems with substances, sleep, and anxiety due to the stress of the job. Because of the editorial team layoffs, there's now a huge problem with quality. Our clients pay to get really good content that's been reviewed up to three times -- usually by an editor twice and a copyeditor once. For L4+ CMs, that was one editor review and one copyeditor review. Now, the copyediting stage has been replaced for L4+ CMs... with Grammarly. A poor substitute for the careful review of our gifted copyeditor team. When concerns have been raised about this, leadership said the quality you get from Grammarly is about on par with a copyeditor's review and that if you're really that concerned, you can raise the issue with our Lead Editor and fight to get approved to put your pieces in the copyediting queue. Perhaps I wasn't the right fit for Animalz. I'm sure that this review will be ignored or publicly refuted, as was once done by our CEO in an email to all employees, as the remarks of a disgruntled ex-employee. But after talking to many current and ex-Animalz, I've come to think that most people aren't right for Animalz. Or rather, Animalz isn't the right company for most people, because the people in charge don't know how to manage it.Continue reading
- Former Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
Top talent squanderedFeb 2, 2022 - Content WriterRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Filled with great writers and editors to learn from.
Everything else. The pay is substandard, especially for content writers – the people making the actual product Animalz is selling. Content writersent writersent writers with any experience at all can find better pay pretty much anywhere in the current market. Animalz charges clients a king’s ransom for blogs and articles, but none of that seems to leak down to the writers. That gap is puzzling, until you see how many vice presidents, directors, and managers are stuffed into the company hierarchy. Benefits aren’t great if you’re on your own, and they’re terrible if you have a spouse or dependents. The company is clearly operating on the “hope your spouse has better benefits” philosophy of employee healthcare. The workload is extreme and is getting worse. Animalz used to pride itself on quality work, but the writers these days are given such a massive production goal that quality is noticeably slipping. And by noticeable, I mean the clients are noticing, and are subsequently churning. Worse, writers are scolded like puppies if they fall behind on production, and are said to be “letting down the team.” That management is letting down their team of writers doesn’t come up very often. When writers fall behind on these extreme production goals, work is often outsourced to freelancers who aren’t given the time, prompts, or editing support to create quality material. And so standards fall further. They won’t hire new editors at a rate commensurate with increased clients or workloads, and so standards fall even more. They really do have top talent at this agency, but management isn’t providing the framework to support them. And more of these talented individuals are leaving every day, realizing how much more money (and how much less stress) can be found out in the market right now. Onboarding was never great and appears to be getting worse, with little-to-no training on the 12+ apps the company uses. The internal organization is a mess because of it, with information being kept on random spreadsheets instead of inputted into the appropriate app with a funny animal name. All forms of dissent in the company Slack are quashed as “complaining” instead of addressed. Public call outs are becoming more frequent, where employees who made mistakes are tagged in public Slack channels with passive-aggressive messages. Morale is in the toilet, perhaps rightly so, with an everpresent air of “who is being fired or quitting next.” Lastly, and perhaps most disappointingly, Animalz is one of those companies that puts forward a progressive veneer with nothing behind it, like the storefronts on an Old West movie set. Unlimited vacation days don’t mean much when you get fired after taking them, nevermind that you have to find and coordinate freelancers yourself should you deign to take a couple days off. Which is even more frustrating, since some upper-level positions have very discreetly been given four day workweeks. There’s no true dialog with management, company all-hands meetings are basically recitals for C-Suite business jargon performances, and struggling employees are given little help. For a business based around communication, you’ll find none here.Continue reading
- Former Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
Let's set some realistic expectations for life at AnimalzAug 13, 2019 - Content Marketer in Remote, ORRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
- If you're looking for an agency experience where you can work from home, you've found it. They provide all the tools for collaboration and communication that you'll need. They're gotten pretty good at being a remote-first company. You really can work anywhere. - This is a place for hungry, highly motivated individuals (preferably towards the beginning of their careers, IMO) who are either single or don't mind having work dominate their lives. - Some of the folks are interesting, and everyone is smart. They're generally good people to work with, and they are spread across the world, which is pretty cool. - They're growing and that is 100% their strategy. Growth for the sake of growth. It's the classic entrepreneurial SaaS approach to build quickly and get acquired. This isn't the first time the CEO has done this. So, if you really drink the kool aid, you'll have a good chance of growing with them. There's opportunity there, if you want it. - They know their stuff when it comes to content marketing, and they are passionate about it. - You might get to work on some interesting accounts. - There is flexibility as to when you get your work done during the day.
**I didn't originally want to write a negative review of working at Animalz. Those already exist, at length, if you scroll down a little. But after seeing the recent efforts to gloss over things (they're experts at that), with people writing glowing reviews of life at Animalz (which may or may not have been a management directive), I figured I needed to reinforce realistic expectations for those considering applying.** - You're only likely to succeed here if you are a content marketing zealot. If you just want to work in the tech/SaaS space, you'll probably do better looking elsewhere. - Very average pay. - Overtime is a constant reality and a carefully masked expectation. Just pay attention to how often they stress that this is 'agency life' without explaining what that means -- you're going to get wrung out every week, but god forbid they actually admit how busy you'll be. - They'll act the part of jovial, supportive, millennial colleagues when you join the team. This might continue if you're their type of people, but you'll quickly come to realize everyone is far too busy to really be there for you, no matter how often they say they are. - On internal company-wide calls you'll soon start to see that at least 30% of your colleagues are mildly-to-moderately exasperated and some are barely hanging on. - Monthly production targets for writers are aggressive. I saw people get called out for being 0.5 articles below their quota in a month. Basically, you're never going to have a quiet day, ever. - People constantly miss or have to reschedule internal calls because of how busy they are. You will have to, too! - Taking vacation will stress you out as you'll fall behind with production expectations for your clients. Good luck enjoying time away from your computer. - You're expected to bring your own equipment to the job and there's no home office stipend like most remote-first companies offer. - Churn, churn, churn. Internal and external. - They love to tout their flexible, work from home policy as a major perk of the job, but honestly it feels like a gimmick to squeeze more work out of people and reduce the company's overheads. - Their culture of radical transparency is often taken too far. People are criticized and demeaned in public forums, made to look stupid, and have to take it all on the chin. It was often undeserved and most mistakes seemed to come from being overworked and always feeling like you're behind. - If you're not a good fit or meeting quotas, there's a good chance you'll be out within 3-6 months. Or you'll decide to leave yourself. Either way, this will be announced to everyone else through a casual glossing-over of the situation. - Do yourself a favor and read all of the previous negative reviews on glassdoor about working at Animalz. They went into a lot more detail than I care to, but I agree with 100% of what they said.Continue reading
We are a content marketing agency, so a love of the industry is essential to you having a good experience at Animalz. I do affirm that if you are not passionate about writing, you perhaps may not enjoy your day-to-day here. I took over as CEO in March 2020 and stress/burnout is something I’ve sought to address since day 1. In 2021, we’re implementing one big picture solution (changing our business model) as well as smaller tweaks to how we operate that we hope will make us unique among agencies as both stable and less stressful. It is the biggest initiative I’ve taken on since assuming the role of CEO last year, and I’m confident it will address much of this feedback. As someone who has seen many toxic startup environments, culture is very important to me. Our most recent engagement survey, which saw a 80% participation rate, showed that team culture is strong, both in communication and helpfulness. 89% of our team members said their managers showed a genuine interest in their career aspirations; 90% said they were proud to work at the company. I'm happy with these numbers as a baseline and am confident I can grow them to 100%. I also want to mention that we're not growing for the sake of growth and the founder never intended to get acquired. Walter’s plan, now executed, was to help create and grow multiple thriving businesses. In Oct 2019 he informed Animalz leadership team of his intentions, which included appointing me CEO and Haley Bryant COO of Animalz and partnering with Jimmy to start a new company, Superpath. I hope this response provides some more clarity on the changes we've made since this review was added. I appreciate the feedback and opportunity to respond! - Devin Bramhall, Animalz CEO
- Former Employee, more than 1 year★★★★★
My freeing experience at Animalz was the day I leftAug 6, 2021 - Anonymous EmployeeRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
Animalz hires helpful, thoughtful, intelligent content marketers. Everyone is willing to lend a hand with whatever you need - all you have to do is ask in Slack. If you are early in your career and want to improve your writing, work with an editor, or get exposure to some of the biggest names in B2B and SaaS, this is a good place to do it. Unfortunately, it’s not a good place to do much of anything else.
You will burn out here. Pay is below market value. Leadership takes months to make and act on decisions. They claim to be acting cautiously and intentionally, but while they delay action, employees are struggling with unmanageable workloads and team sizes. Process on this decision-making is no longer shared beyond a few opaque slides in the company All-Hands. The company once prided itself on transparency, but this transparency is being removed. Employees can no longer see salaries and role “levels,” which was a way to ensure fairness. The “replacement” for this is - of course - delayed. Everyone has too much to do. Leadership waits until someone is all but dead in their chair to make a hire. Leadership will tell you, publicly and privately, to “assume positive intent” or not to vent. When you have a valid concern, depending on who it’s brought to, you may be accused of venting, helped, or redirected. It’s a shot in the dark. Non-white, disabled, and neurodivergent candidates are treated differently by leadership team members who interview them. If you have access to Greenhouse or Slack, you will inevitably find at least one inappropriate comment about the candidates’ speech patterns, ability to do the role, or abilities in general. Tools are held together with tape and toothpicks. No one is in charge of fixing anything or given the time and money to do so, even if they have a solution in mind. Clearscope regularly runs out of credits, Ahrefs is unusable unless you work at midnight, and I’m still not sure what the right way to pay for transcriptions is. You will not know a fellow team member is leaving until roughly 48 hours before they leave. Or maybe after they have already left! It all depends on how leadership felt about them and whether or not they were “poached.” Please imagine me rolling my eyes very hard here. Devin cannot and will not answer questions directly.Continue reading
Last year, I burnt out. I was a single mother trying to homeschool my then 4-5yo and keep a company afloat during a pandemic. I see you, and I’m sorry that you reached your limit here. In retrospect, I realize that part of my burnout came from my own lack of bravery; failing to speak up for myself or to think about potential solutions that would help me turn a corner. We rolled out engagement surveys in March as a portal for people to bravely surface problems across the team so that we can address them and we are making progress. While we know that venting can have a negative impact on a person, team or organization, we try to encourage constructive feedback. Great constructive feedback is specific and solution oriented, focused on the desired future state. Our org restructure is intended to help us address many of the opportunities you brought up: creating more balanced workloads, increasing collaboration and thus transparency (part of the gap here is due to silos in the current team structure) and to enable faster decision making from the people who have the most context to solve a problem/run towards an opportunity. We have an opportunity to work collaboratively with the team to define how we want to work and to revise our processes and systems to enable that. We have also improved pay. As for the claim around discrimination, thank you for your concern. I ensure you that this is not something that I/we will stand for and we will investigate further.
- Former Employee, less than 1 year★★★★★
Churn and burnAug 16, 2022 - Anonymous EmployeeRecommendCEO ApprovalBusiness Outlook
- Truly gifted editors. Working at Animalz will supercharge anyone's writing, research, and SEO chops. It's like going to college except you get paid. - The chance to work with some big brands and network with tech execs. - Diverse team - super interesting people work here from all over the world. Makes the world seem less polarized and scary. - Flexibility - you can work pretty much wherever and whenever you want as long as you can get all your work done (which brings me to the cons...)
- Animalz wants really badly to be like the tech companies they serve, so they treat their people like machines. They literally refer to what they do as a 'product' instead of a service. This may seem fairly innocuous at first. It may even seem exciting, edgy, and new. But then after a few months, you'll realize that all leadership truly cares about is writers producing a ton of content for a tiny fraction of what customers pay the agency. You may develop close relationships with people at this company, but it will be done on your own time and you'll have to work for it. Otherwise, you're just a cog in the machine. - Extremely top-heavy. There are too many leaders and executives (friends of the CEO) and not enough people doing work. If you want to be talked down to and urged to constantly do more work by people with less experience in the industry than you, then maybe this is a good place. For everyone else, it's difficult to stomach. - Non-writing work is unaccounted for. Writers do much more than write - they meet with the customers (as well as their own teams), create their own briefs, research, outline, and optimize articles. They respond to customer feedback, create reports, and shepherd all their work through multiple rounds of revision and multiple steps of delivery as requested by customers, leadership, team leads, and editors. None of this work is accounted for in their workload. - Zero training for difficult subject matter. Some clients at Animalz are easy to write for, but many require technical expertise and/or a ton of research. And no one is trained on how to write on these technical topics. Leaders assume writers will just figure it out on their own time. If you fall behind on your workload, you have to make that up by working late, on weekends, or on vacation. This pace of work becomes extremely difficult to balance with the high writing standards of the agency and the high quality expectations of the clients who pay a premium price for this 'product' and expect writers to deliver on promises they aren't equipped for. The result is employees burn out, and clients churn. - Low pay and few benefits for the industry. At first glance, the pay at Animalz may seem fair. But when you factor in the time and expertise required, most writers will be better off elsewhere, either as an in-house writer or a freelancer. Animalz doesn't offer retirement matching. They also recently switched to an unlimited vacation model, which will only harm people with mental health issues, family responsibilities, or difficult clients because they won't be able to take any time off if they aren't meeting production quotas. - Gaslighting is common. When people have problems or bring up a concern, they are routinely told the problem doesn't exist and no one else has that concern. - Few REAL advancement opportunities. Right now, clients are leaving. Many tech companies and startups which Animalz serves are cutting their marketing spend, and first up on the chopping block is their expensive content machine (Animalz). This reality, plus the burnout that writers constantly undergo, means that you're unlikely to meeting your production goals to warrant a promotion, and even if you ARE able to meet all your production goals, the company's revenue may not be able to support your promotion anytime soon because they are trying so hard to improve their financial situation.Continue reading
- 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 ratesking ratesking 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 email@example.com. We’ll gladly connect you with a current team member to share their perspective.