National Renewable Energy Lab Reviews | Glassdoor

National Renewable Energy Lab Reviews

Updated February 13, 2017
122 reviews

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3.4
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National Renewable Energy Lab Director Martin Keller
Martin Keller
10 Ratings

122 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Bad project management, lots of bureaucracy (in 3 reviews)

  • Shaky job security based on contract status and federal budget constraints (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    "NREL's a Great Place"

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

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time

    Pros

    Great mission. Good work-life balance.

    Cons

    Budgets subject to congressional processes.

    Advice to Management

    Keep fighting the good fight.


  2. "NREL Intern Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    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


  3. "NREL is all about people and ideas"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    Great mission and many great people.

    Cons

    Lots of bureaucracy and subject to political whims.

    Advice to Management

    Please walk the halls as much as you can.


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


  5. "Chasing Renewable Energy Funding"

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

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Exposure to many different renewable energy technologies
    Relaxed work environment
    Good benefits

    Cons

    Limited opportunities for advancement
    Funding tends toward a feast or famine cycle, based on DOE priorities


  6. "PostDoc"

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

    I worked at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time

    Pros

    Fantastic place to work, great people.

    Cons

    As a postdoc, not much helping finding a job afterwards.


  7. "Overall a great place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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.


  8. "Leadership staffed with brilliant scientists, but terrible organizational leaders"

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

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good work/life balance, relaxed environment, decent compensation, and the biggest perk is advancing renewable energy

    Cons

    The executive leadership team is clueless as how to run this large organization. They may be respected scientists in their field, but they have proven to be incompetent leaders. The current Lab Director (CEO) is driving a palpable wedge between researchers and support staff, with the support staff essentially being treated as if they were a cancer inhibiting the researchers' "true mission work."

    Advice to Management

    Build cohesiveness, give some love to the support side, and hire leadership who know how to lead a high performing organization!


  9. "current employee"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Intern in Golden, CO
    Current Employee - Intern in Golden, CO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Health insurance is well priced and comprehensive. Company offers competitive 403b and a pension with tenure.

    Cons

    As a contractor, there were very few perks or benefits... 1 work from home day per week after 6 months. Onsite, subsidized cafeteria shuttle service around campus and to common transit hubs.

    Advice to Management

    Nothing


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Surprisingly Poor Leadership"

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

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great people, mission, campus, location.

    Cons

    Bad senior leadership. Worst management I've witnessed in 20+ years at NREL. Top management is brilliant yet clueless. After a year, it's obvious that management does not care about employees. Director fosters a division between research and non-research staff (even program-funded staff like analysts and project managers) and refers to them as “carpet” vs. “tile” people (office vs. lab). He pushed aside female leaders to make room for male friends from his previous job and even invites only select male managers to extracurricular activities. To fund the director's pet projects, he cuts overhead expenses like early lab closures for holidays and treacherous weather. Another top manager says “dedicated employees will come to work regardless of the weather” regardless of the fact that teleconferencing and videoconferencing technology makes in-person presence unnecessary. Are we living in the 1970s??? Despite claiming NREL to be a model of sustainability, management can't get past this antiquated mindset. Incompetent and archaic HR leadership does not help, as it's sole mission is to avoid litigation. Meanwhile, non-existent management training and support fosters an environment of ill-prepared and ineffective middle management.

    Advice to Management

    Talk less and listen more. Show that the staff is important even if you don't believe it. The Lab is at a precarious position right now (under Trump's new administration), and talented people will bolt if you continue to display a total disregard for them. Work to Protect the Lab and staff instead of pushing your own agenda.


  11. "Bureaucracy Before Research"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Process Engineer in Golden, CO
    Former Employee - Process Engineer in Golden, CO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Access to millions of dollars worth of research and analytical equipment. You'll have the latitude to build and buy virtually anything within reason. Because the management is out of touch with the research (particularly in the NBC), there is very little oversight over what you buy and what you do. This is a good thing if you're an honest researcher who just wants to create the most rigorous research environment. There are some hugely talented researchers at NREL, and you stand to learn a lot from them. This is an ideal place to be when you're just out of grad school, but don't spend too long there because you'll become complacent to the rampant bureaucratic nonsense and mistreatment of money and people.

    Cons

    Crony management. The biggest, loudest, and meanest people are promoted to management. I had one manager for 7 years who punched me, slapped me, called me a multitude of names, berated me, made fun of my appearance, and was just generally unprofessional. On top of this, she was terrible at her job. If she bothered to come in to work, she only came in from 11am to 5pm. She would go to international conferences and spew lies about our data. It was embarrassing to watch her try to discuss data that other groups had taken and attempt to pass off as her own. She clearly didn't understand the data or what it was showing, and I was always worried that other respectable research groups in the field would recognize this and think poorly about the work done at NREL. If this was an isolated individual, then I wouldn't have minded so much. However, most of the upper management are people who are way less intelligent than the people that work for them. They rose to their positions by fear-mongering and lying. I guess it's impolite to point these things out, but I'm just sick of having to lay down and take this kind of treatment from these institutions. Why is it alright for these people to cheat their way to the top, but it's not alright for me to say something about it? I demand better from an institution like NREL.

    There is very little room for advancement at NREL. The compensation is nothing compared to industry, and the work/life balance is non-existent. Work your fingers to the bone, expect nothing in return, and don't say anything about your managers who are spending weeks in Europe misconstruing your data. That pretty much sums it up.

    Advice to Management

    Stop advancing people who are such embarrassments to the important research that NREL does. It puts NREL in a bad light and it makes it hard to defend the programs the federal government funds. There are plenty of intelligent people at NREL who are better suited to managerial jobs than the ones currently holding those positions. Stop yielding to the bullies and cronies, and start putting good, hard working people in positions that matter. The research will be much better off not only because funds will be allocated more sensibly, but also because your work force won't feel like they're working for idiots who could care less about the research.



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