Foreign and Commonwealth Office Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Washington DC Reviews

Updated March 29, 2017
13 reviews

Filter

Filter

Washington, DC Area

2.9
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
2 Ratings

13 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
Cons
  • locally engaged staff work excessively as compared to expatriate (in 10 reviews)

  • Salary not good especially for locally engaged staff with respect to expatriate even though mostly locally (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Intern for Northern Ireland Bureau"

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

    I worked at Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very supportive Staff
    Insightful and Knowledgeable
    Great Staff

    Cons

    No room for internal growth

    Advice to Management

    N/A


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Review of Foreign Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence"

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

    I have been working at Foreign and Commonwealth Office full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great work life balance and great for entry level positions.

    Cons

    The pay is not relative to the job market in the metro area.

    Advice to Management

    Update pay scale so that it is competitive with the job market in the area.

  3. Helpful (5)

    "British Embassy Washington DC - Great introduction, learn all you can then get out fast!"

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

    I have been working at Foreign and Commonwealth Office full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Generally a good work life balance. Relatively interesting projects which are often diverse - a great opportunity for a recent grad to gain experience, knowledge and network within greater DC policy community. Looks good on the resume and can lead to similar, but better paying jobs with added responsibility.

    Cons

    Lots of grunt work for Locally Employed Staff with well below market wages (guessing around 50% below) and shrinking benefits due to austerity measures and Brexit pressures. As a consequence, local staff is a mixed bag of talent - some are talented, ambitious, etc, while others seem to use the job as a stop gap while they look for better.

    Absolutely no learning and development opportunities and with very high turnover, there are few people to turn to for example and mentorship. In addition, high-turn over ~30+% will leave you in constant stress as projects fall behind, problems with knowledge retention arise and overall business continuity... stops. Add to that absolutely no room for career advancement given the very small teams you'll work in and the poor dynamics between locally employed and career diplomats and the high turn over becomes quite understandable.

    Most people stay about a 1-2 or 3 years, before moving onto to better opportunities. Also, as one user indicated, there is also obvious favoritism toward the Brits. They get all the perks, high-profile projects, and security clearances. There is a complete disconnect - a lack of understanding between career diplomats and local staff. I will also say that for a Brit on a diplomatic assignment, the Washington DC embassy is sometimes more of a vacation, possibly even their final posting before retirement. Don't expect mentors; don't expect managers to take interest in your work and career goals!

    Advise to young and idealistic employees/candidates: Brexit outlook will likely lead to cuts here. Do not expect job security going forward. Do not expect to make a massive contribution or "change the world". Things happen at snail pace here or not at all. Keep your head down, use diversity to your advantage and get as many projects under your belt as you can all the while looking for your next career move. This can still be a good steeping stone into a number of policy careers. Good luck!

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your people! Pay a real living wage, provide better benefits including opportunities for learning and development. At best, current practices will yield high turn-over with business interruption, and problems with knowledge retention. At worst, they may give rise to security breaches (Embassy personnel are prime recruitment targets for espionage)!


  4. "Working for the FCO"

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

    I have been working at Foreign and Commonwealth Office full-time

    Pros

    Flexibility on working shedules. Good annual leave days!!!!

    Cons

    Low salaries comparing to market outside!


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Poor wages and benefits, No career advancement"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Locally Employed Staff, Administrative Role in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Locally Employed Staff, Administrative Role in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Less than a year)

    Pros

    It's a fun to place to work. The culture is laid back and the people are friendly. The workload is balanced because you cannot work overtime. This place is fine if you need a job, but it's not a place for career advancement. It's not a terribly demanding place to work. Most of the Brits view this as a vacation and are always faffing about.

    Cons

    Very low (poverty) wages and not enough to survive in DC. The organization is well aware of this but will not increase salaries due to austerity measures. They are now starting to slash benefits, as well. If you are locally employed you have to pay your own taxes on a quarterly basis as the British Gov't cannot take out taxes on our behalf. It is a bloody nightmare, to say the least. They do NOT provide any tax assistance or help, either. Employee turn over is at 20%. It's a revolving door. There is also no growth opportunity. They hire locals for lower level clerical jobs with no option for career growth or advancement. Most people stay about a year or so before moving onto to better opportunities.There is also obvious favoritism toward the Brits. They get all the perks.

    Advice to Management

    Pay your employees a living wage and provide us the same benefits that our other American counter parts receive. You cannot expect to recruit good talent if you cannot pay proper wages in this market.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Benefits are okay, management is not great"

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

    I have been working at Foreign and Commonwealth Office full-time

    Pros

    The culture is really interesting and ever-changing, due to the turnover of civil servants and military. The benefits are pretty competitive (good 401(k) match, sick pay, okay vacation, extra holidays). Depending on the department the work/life balance can be really good and hours are flexible (although sometimes you get a manager who will scrutinize your output and timesheet). The location in Washington is on Embassy Row, and there is free parking (most days) and a cafeteria. Every once in a while you are offered the opportunity to rub elbows with a celebrity.

    Cons

    Salaries are not competitive at all (well below market). The UK government is always looking for cost savings, and trying to do more with less. This means more work and responsibility on people who remain after any kind of reorganization or vacancy yet there is no compensation for this. Sometimes they will hire someone to fill a post with little or no experience (or just incompetent) because of the horrible salary, which puts more pressure on the adjacent employees to accomplish anything. Annual increase is dependent on budgets in London. Bonuses (very low) are also dependent on this, and favoritism plays a large part. Salary groups/reference points do not adjust with the market and are reviewed sporadically (could be years). There is rarely an opportunity to move up in the organization. US residents have to pay quarterly taxes, and although compensated for the employer portion must be very good at managing money to handle this.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out how to make your local staff feel valued. The loss of corporate knowledge can be costly, as we watch you make the same mistakes over and over again, and you lose good, hard working people.


  7. "British Embassy!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The best part of working at the embassy was the overall environment. It was very relaxed despite the fact that it was an embassy. It was also really nice to interact with the British FCOs and other staff. They often hosted fun events for staff.

    Cons

    When the on-site IT team couldn't solve a technical issue, it was necessary to contact the IT team in London by phone to fix the problem, which wasn't the most convenient solution.

    Advice to Management

    I love the top-down structure. It felt very organized, although rapid turn over is a bit cause of concern.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Consular Passport Team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Convivial team, management happy to allow flexible working hours within reason and interesting talks/presentations offered as part of employment with embassy.

    Cons

    Work was often quite repetitive and priority was fulfilling daily quota of applications which left little room to improve systems or lean new skills despite efforts by management to provide learning and development opportunities

    Advice to Management

    Team since moved back to UK


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Great people / Poor Management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    The people you work with are great and care about each other. Great opportunity to work in an international environment.

    Cons

    The upper management is full of generalist who have no real knowledge of thier sections. The Embassy pays below market and is known for making promises and not keeping them. Also, have fun paying estimated taxes.

    Advice to Management

    Get the old blood out and let professionals with real word experience make decisions. Also, don't sack people to make savings then spend those savings on parties at the ambassador's house.


  10. "Loved It."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Foreign and Commonwealth Office full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Ultra-friendly people, enjoyable work atmosphere, flexible schedule, independence. Wonderful work/life balance.

    Cons

    As with any government work, sometimes systems and technology is outdated.


Showing 13 of 140 reviews
Reset Filters