National Renewable Energy Lab Reviews in Golden, CO | Glassdoor

National Renewable Energy Lab Golden Reviews

Updated June 20, 2017
101 reviews

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Golden, CO

3.2
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National Renewable Energy Lab Director Martin Keller
Martin Keller
11 Ratings

101 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • If you're looking for a good work-life balance, this is the place to be (in 28 reviews)

  • The flexible work environment allows adjustment in schedule to accommodate a busy life (in 13 reviews)

Cons
  • Decision usually happens slower than private sector (in 6 reviews)

  • Job security is weak due to unreliable funding continuity and the lack of lab resources to productively utilize staff when funding wanes (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    "Overall a great place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer I in Golden, CO
    Current Employee - Engineer I in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexibility to explore realms of science relevant to your job description. With the correct connections, motivation, and foundational capability you really can work on anything related to the laboratories mission

    Cons

    As a non-profit, and specifically due to the way the DOE budgets, projects and management can become political. This does not significantly diminish the breadth and quality of research/work but is a definite con.


  2. "Great company and employer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Communications in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Communications in Golden, CO
    Recommends

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Love the people, work ethics, compensation and benefits, and career challenges plus opportunities to advance.

    Cons

    Really high expectations - not necessarily a con. Plus gov't clients can be super demanding and turn priorities on a dime. I worked my tail off, then got laid off during a government funding downturn. That's the nature of the beast when you work for a government-funded entity.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Low job security. Lab mirrors Federal disfunction. Discards long tenure staff to cut costs when funding wanes."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Golden, CO
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Inspiring mission to help transform the energy system. Excellent location and campus in Golden CO. Opportunity to work with smart colleagues and partners. Technical work can be interesting but project funding does not always allow for creative freedom.

    Cons

    Job security is weak due to unreliable funding continuity and the lack of lab resources to productively utilize staff when funding wanes. Minuscule latitude for innovation outside funded projects. Very limited time and resources are made available for staff to seek new funding. Committed, long tenure employees are at risk of termination as their higher costs become targets for reduction. Management is more focused on managing the relationship with Federal funding agencies than on leading the staff. Stifling Federal and lab bureaucracy. Archaic laboratory support systems. Very high cost structure reduces the competitiveness of lab research versus academia and the private sector. Other national labs compete for NREL's space and DOE leverages this situation to demand more results for less funding.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating staff like temp employees who are expendable when funding wanes. Demonstrate more commitment to long tenure employees and find ways to be more flexible in utilizing their talent. Defend your own employees instead of always accepting toxic Federal politics. Break organizational silos in the lab that encourage internal competition, promote favorites and leave others underfunded. Do not tolerate toxically self-promoting staff who flout team play.


  4. "Energy Analysis needs cohesive strategy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Energy Analyst in Golden, CO
    Current Employee - Senior Energy Analyst in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Flexible work schedule, work on interesting projects, shape your career to some degree (depending on funding)

    Cons

    Not much advice on how to advance your career, lack of cohesive research agenda as projects are funded independently, elimination of management layers that supported development of junior staff

    Advice to Management

    Be more proactive in seeking outside partnerships in energy analysis, provide support (time!) for managers to talk to their staff, provide more than 6 weeks paid leave for maternity and 2 weeks paid leave for paternity


  5. Helpful (4)

    "Horrible management, no funding, terrible work atmosphere"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Golden, CO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    No need to work hard, flex hours, nice buildings (though empty)

    Cons

    1) Management killed innovation. They do not care about science/technology. You will be evaluated on terms of how much money you are bringing in to benefit undeserving ridiculously high salaries for the management than the science, engineering work you do (this waste and abuse of tax payer money made the news too, google "secret lab spawns million dollar government emloyee")
    2) There is no team spirit: lack of funding and lack of leadership create anymosity between scientist against scientist, scientist against support staff, etc., there is little money to go round and too many "mouths to feed". Difficult to do R&D under this circumstances.
    3) No advancement. It is "who you know" more than "what you know" or what your contributions are that get you ahead. Brown nosing is better than writing highly cited papers to advance in this place.
    4) Unfair managment, HR does not work for employees but for management (so forget about Ombuds or any program you may think is there to make things better). Vengeful management: blame the employee and not the organization. The last two lay-offs not a single manager was let go.
    5) No carrer path. Post-docs and interns looking for a career would be better off elsewhere. They will lie to you and make you think you have a chance of full time employment: it never happens.
    6) NREL became a "crown jewel" two decades ago and made great contributions but today all those brilliant scientists that gave NREL prestige are gone, laid off, fired or "voluntary separated". There are no recognized technical leaders that inspire and produce quality work.
    7) Salaries are bellow private sector salaries for equivalent positions. Unless of course, if you are in management you do not even have to show up for work and still make bank!

    Advice to Management

    Privitize NREL and see how far you get with a 400% overhead rate


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Thoughtless, cold, and brutal management. Apathetic scientists. Ugly elitist culture."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist II in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist II in Golden, CO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good laboratory research facilities. Clean. Environmentally sound. Goal of the lab is noble-- clean energy of all kinds. Newer buildings that are platinum rated.

    Cons

    Thoughtless, cold, and brutal management culture. HR in cahoots with management. Don't anyone dare speak up or speak out. Extreme bureaucracy. Unbelievably high overhead rates. A culture where science is stifled by nepotism, male chauvinism, gold old boys club management mentality. People who are employed here for more than 10 years don't stand chance to find a job outside especially in industry.

    Advice to Management

    Change your ways before you are exposed by 60 mins type show.


  7. "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Intern in Golden, CO
    Current Intern - Intern in Golden, CO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great place to work, everyone is very kind and helpful.

    Cons

    Onboarding process is long and complicated

  8. "NREL Intern Review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Computer Science Intern in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Computer Science Intern in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Interactive coworkers, great mentors, relaxing environment

    Cons

    Pay is a little less than at a private company


  9. "Great Company Conducting Great Research"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Intern in Golden, CO
    Former Intern - Intern in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab as an intern (More than a year)

    Pros

    This is a great work place conducting wonderful research on renewable energy. The work environment is also very healthy. They promote a work-lilfe balance and allow flexible schedules.

    Cons

    Slow to hire, Could work on communication


  10. "Specialist IV-Accounting"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Contractor - Accounts Payable in Golden, CO
    Current Contractor - Accounts Payable in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab as a contractor (More than a year)

    Pros

    Supporting the research for renewable energies

    Cons

    Disconnections between the Lab & CFO departments

    Advice to Management

    Forus on team building between departments


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