Population Services International Reviews | Glassdoor

Population Services International Reviews

Updated November 30, 2017
125 reviews

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3.6
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Population Services International President & CEO Karl Hofmann
Karl Hofmann
74 Ratings

125 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • PSI loves to hire from inside, so if you're interested in health or development, it can be a great place to start out (in 10 reviews)

  • They attract really great people, and for the most part manage to keep them (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • The work-life balance is compromised with a lot of deadlines that need to be met (in 11 reviews)

  • junior staff worth paying attention to will rise to the top anyway (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "One of the best NGOs out there"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Population Services International full-time

    Pros

    When you leave PSI and go elsewhere, you re-discover that they are one of the stronger, more focused NGOs in the public health space. They are smart, impatient for health impact, driven, and creative. They attract really great people, and for the most part manage to keep them. More than their competitors, they put their focus and energy on their field programs, and try to make their systems and oversight nimble and efficient. Most people love working at PSI, and many who leave still love it in the diaspora. PSI was a great place to work, and I miss it!

    Cons

    Some upper level management issues they need to fix.


  2. "Regional Director"

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

    I have been working at Population Services International full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Open, Fair, Offer opportunity for honest communication; amazing team members--so dedicated and motivated.

    Cons

    Every organization that strives to make a difference can find fault or opportunity in itself.

  3. "Great work life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Population Services International full-time

    Pros

    Great work life balance in psi

    Cons

    i love working there so nothing to note

    Advice to Management

    get HQ staff out to the field more


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Politics on steroids"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Adviser in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Technical Adviser in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Population Services International full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Interesting work and some good people especially in the country offices
    Good support from HQ technical advisors

    Cons

    Upward mobility ONLY if you suck up to their special ''stars'' the quality of your work is irrelevant you can break your back and go absolutely nowhere professionally.
    Latent misogyny despite their so-called women-friendly policies, my former manager has somehow been able to ensure all his female subordinates have been let go and management is completely clueless.

    Advice to Management

    Do a debrief when staff leave to find out if there are any problems and don't take the word of one supervisor when they say a staff member is problematic


  5. "Great travel opportunities, fun environment, but can be hard to switch tracks"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Population Services International full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    PSI is in 70 countries so if you demonstrate dedicate, usefulness, attention to detail you're likely to soon be on a plane. Halloween is absurdly fun and it definitely has a work-hard play-hard culture. They're doing great work and the focus on measuring impact and evidence-based decision-making is genuine. The fitness reimbursement is pretty great.

    Cons

    It's a long grind before you start to see the type of salaries enjoyed by top staff. There are a lot of older, white males in leadership positions globally and yet a wealth of female interns. If you start in a regional department e.g. East Africa or Asia you may be in an administrative role and it can be difficult to switch into a more technical-focused role such as HIV/AIDS or malaria. The maternal/paternal benefits leave a LOT to be desired.


  6. "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Intern - Hourly
    Current Employee - Intern - Hourly
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Population Services International full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Amazing co-workers and work environment

    Cons

    No cons so far so good


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Abusive to mid/entry level staff"

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

    I worked at Population Services International full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Co-workers tend to be amazing - motivated, interesting, diverse experiences. There is a lot of bonding and long-term friendships established there.
    Some of the work is truly impactful, and pushes boundaries that need pushing.
    I enjoyed the culture of talking openly about controversial public health issues and the context in which our programs operate.
    Diverse funding means they have a bit more autonomy than a lot of organizations in terms of following their mission.

    Cons

    I was so excited when I was finally hired at PSI. I had applied twice previously and really wanted the opportunity to work at what seemed like a well-run global health organization. It became clear very quickly that this was not the reality, especially when two members of my team quit within the first few months I was there.

    Turn-over, particularly among mid/entry level staff is extremely high. Much higher than similar organizations, because most people don't like been treated poorly and held to unrealistic, even impossible expectations when they do the vast majority of the actual work at the organization. This was particularly pronounced on my team, where the leadership repeatedly talked about how we were 'paying our dues,' which I generally didn't agree with, but was worse because many of the members of my team had 5-10 years of relevant experience that was completely ignored/under-utilized.

    Salaries of mid and entry level staff lag behind comparable organizations in the industry, with specific teams requiring the same experience level for much lower pay (the same teams that develop and manage budgets and, therefore, know how underpaid they are).

    There is a general trend where many leaders have been at the organization so long (typically between 10-20 years) that they are basically given free reign. There is very little standardization between teams, and many leaders who are notorious bullies (as was the leader of my team), and never seem to face consequences. This often means that they held your position many years ago, and have an outdated understanding and expectations of what it takes to complete the work, because both the industry and the organization have changed so much. The organization has grown rapidly and systems have lagged behind, meaning staff spends most of their time dealing with broken systems instead of actually contributing meaningfully to programs.

    I tried to raise many of these issues to my supervisor, who would pretty much roll her eyes and ignore me. When I tried to escalate the issues to higher leadership I was told I was unprofessional and was increasingly treated in a way that felt a lot like retaliation. This was despite the fact that I received positive performance reviews and had good relationships with the staff I worked with.

    Upon quitting, I had two telling interactions. One was with one of my former team members who quit soon after I started, who had been with the organization for quite a while relative to other staff. When I met with her, she said that after a year away she felt like she was only just recovering from how abusive the experience was. The other was with a new employee I knew before she was hired. She said she felt like she had been lied about how great PSI was by people who recommended the position to her. I had felt the same way, and I think it has something to do with the fact that they offer staff a $1000 bonus for recommending new employees - which, especially given that employees are not very well paid, would indeed incentivize staff to make the picture rosier than it is in reality.

    Now I do know that there was some variation, with the leaders of a few teams being known for their interest in supporting the growth of the professionals on their team, but the general sense was that this was a rather unique situation.

    Advice to Management

    Conduct an analysis of your leaders, and find out which teams have extremely high attrition, and do something about those leaders.
    At some point, you will have to address the continual feedback from a large plurality of staff that feel overworked, overwhelmed by terribly functioning systems, and poorly treated or you will keep spending the majority of your time recruiting and onboarding new staff, instead of focusing on programs.

  8. "Good Place to Gain Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Population Services International full-time

    Pros

    Hard working staff(entry-mid), good friendships out of office, good experience builder it transitioning, coming out of school or have less than 3 yrs of solid work experience. The entry to mid level staff work extremely hard and seem to spend long time at work. Saving grace is that among entry-mid levels good friendshships exist and not unusual to spend a lot of time outside of work with co-workers (atleast those without kids). The professional connections you can make can propel you down the road

    Cons

    The work life balance is preached but not practices. Employees seem to work at 150% to be rated at 80% or meets expectations.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on all around ground of entry-mid level staff. Organization is large enough that opportunities to rotate around country platforms should be available. Fellowship caters to entry level, something for mid levels should be developed. Maybe a manager rotation program.


  9. "Intern"

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

    I worked at Population Services International full-time

    Pros

    -Passionate, driven staff at all levels of the organization
    -Unique approach that makes it possible to avoid pitfalls that similar organizations face

    Cons

    HQ staff sometimes seem removed from realities on the ground


  10. "Director"

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

    I have been working at Population Services International (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Excellent team work and mission of organization

    Cons

    Not this time. The company is doing great!

    Advice to Management

    NA


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