SmithBucklin Reviews | Glassdoor

SmithBucklin Reviews

Updated November 11, 2018
210 reviews

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3.1
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SmithBucklin CEO Matt Sanderson
Matt Sanderson
57 Ratings

210 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • "Work-life balance is non-existent" (in 26 reviews)

  • "No work-life balance or room to advance" (in 10 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (2)

    "Good onboarding"

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

    I have been working at SmithBucklin full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    As a new executive I was pleasantly surprised by the customized and comprehensive onboarding. I've worked for many companies in my twenty year career, big and small, and I've not received the same quality and individualized attention before.

    Cons

    The meeting rooms need better tech capabilities.

    Advice to Management

    I heard that the company was investing in more training next year. I know that is an important feature for younger professionals. I'd like to understand the level of investment. This is is something that differentiates companies in the marketplace.


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Making Strides"

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

    I have been working at SmithBucklin full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I am writing this review today as I feel too often only negative responses are captured, rather than the positive ones. Today, our CEO sent a heartfelt email to our organization in which, made me tear and feel proud to work for a great leader who opened up and communicated to our organization the way he did. Thank you. This was a pivotal moment and one that I don't want to go unrecognized nor unappreciative. He's doing a lot to move this organization forward and he needs more appreciation and support. We are in the constant world of instant gratification and need to recognize it doesn't happen overnight.
    While we have a lot more progression, I feel confident our leader is taking us in the right direction.

    I am truly happy at SmithBucklin and get frustrated reading all these negative comments (many which are the same person). Our organization is changing, we are evolving, and we need everyone to take part in this change - instead of pointing fingers elsewhere. Yes, some leadership folks need to part ways as they are not on the bandwagon. I appreciate the effort in putting SmithBucklin in an employee focused organization rather than solely client focused. Great change ahead!

    Cons

    We need more progressive benefits and flexibility. Often times, we are so consensus driven that it take a year to make a decision. Advice to Management: Move forward and don't worry about those resistant to change - change and then it will become their new norm.
    There are certain leaders that still only know how to say no. Change that - or we we will continue to see high turnover.

    Advice to Management

    Keep moving forward - but move forward with passion and disruption if needed.
    Thank you for the heartfelt message - that meant a lot to our culture of who we are and our stance of inclusiveness.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Senior Associate"

    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 SmithBucklin full-time

    Pros

    Collaborative environment, ability to work on many high-profile, high-stake projects

    Cons

    Lets of work to be done - often have to be willing to put in extra time


  4. "Worst job I've ever had."

    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
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at SmithBucklin full-time

    Pros

    Strong team bond with my peers. Opportunity to travel often if that is of interest to you. The newish CEO seems to care and I hope he will change the company in a positive way. Room to grow your career with promotions.

    Cons

    Little to no training, no thought from management about your workload, disconnect between teams and lack of communication between different departments, VERY HIGH turn over company wide which means constant additions to your work load.

    Advice to Management

    Properly train your staff. Address the issue of your staff turnover other than the excuse of "this might not have been the right environment for that person".


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Do Not Recommend"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at SmithBucklin full-time

    Pros

    The people and location is what makes SmithBucklin, which is the reason for the 1 star. Besides that I do not recommend this company to anyone.

    Cons

    Entire experience. The environment of SmithBucklin is very stale and not inspiring. The company strives to obtain new business but I think that the companies are better off without SmithBucklin's help. There is no real structure within the departments. A lot of turnover so whatever learning tools that were in place go out the window as soon as upper management is out the door. Upper management from the marketing department, admin team, accounting department & the events department in Washington, DC over burden their employees. They expect to you to manage a 5 to 10 client load with little to no structure or direction which is not effective for the associations they manage. The managers in the events department are not qualified to do their jobs and they are always gossiping about their employees to lower level employees within the department. The managers complain about Senior Management in Chicago and continuously talk down about them during team meetings which lowers the moral and creates confusion of leadership. Pay is extremely low compared to other companies. People say SmithBucklin is a stepping stone for your career because you learn so much within one year but in actuality turnover is so high that you are just picking up the work from people that have quit and management has no other option but to pile it on you.

    Advice to Management

    Hire management that is qualified to do their jobs and do not promote them if they have not had any formal training to do their job, i.e. events department.


  6. Helpful (4)

    "The churn and burn is real"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at SmithBucklin full-time

    Pros

    Good location, good experience (but, depending on your department, any successes you make will likely be in spite of managers/leadership, not because of good mentorship or support

    Cons

    -Workload is extremely unrealistic and unevenly distributed, even within the same department.
    -Leadership compounds workload problem. Managers are too overloaded to effectively people manage. Certain directors actively interfere in employees’ ability to do the work.
    -Some members of leadership make borderline inappropriate advances toward mid-level/junior staff (who are mostly young women.
    -HR exists to carry out whims of directors/unit heads. Does not ensure proper conduct of managers/directors toward their employees.
    -Rampant and endemic high turnover.
    -Appalling gaps in benefits, e.g., no recognized pregnancy leave. Women must take it as a short-term disability.


  7. Helpful (7)

    "Stepping stone"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at SmithBucklin full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great office location. Got some good resume-building skills, including everyday contact with high-level executives inside and outside the organization. Higher management is aware of many of the problems within the company, which I genuinely think is a pro. I had an amazing direct supervisor.

    Cons

    Outside of my direct supervisor, my experience with management involved an intolerably high level of micromanagement. My perception was that 1. everyone at the company felt that the industry and the organization was so specialized, complex, and unique that it required years to fully understand and implement correctly, meaning that 2. no one trusted me to really do my job because I didn't have five years of tenure with the company. My experience was that there was a sharp divide between the associates/senior associates/non-management (usually young women in their 20s) and managers/senior managers/high levels of the company (more men the higher you move up the chain). The younger, lower-level workers were not trusted.

    Because of this trust divide, it was exceedingly difficult for me to care about my job after six months working there. A perfect example of how my morale was degraded over time was the oversight I received on day-to-day tasks. I'm no stranger to working in marketing -- I know reviews and approvals are necessary in any marketing position. However, my experience at SmithBucklin was that the review processed crossed a line from "making sure everyone with skin in the game is properly informed" to "we're pretty sure you don't know what you're doing, so just sit there until we tell you otherwise." More than once, after working there for 4+ months, I was asked to send a draft email to another department member (not my supervisor) to review before sending.

    Because younger employees were not trusted to handle even simple tasks, I never had enough to do, and neither did anyone at my level within my department; meanwhile, our supervisors and management were constantly overwhelmed and putting in overtime.

    Another consequence of the trust divide was that employees who had been at the company for 10 years or longer, but had serious problems (incompetence, borderline harassing behavior, poor people managers, etc.), were never disciplined or fired. Within my department, there was an attitude of "this is how this person is; if you don't like it leave, and it's not like anywhere else will be better." That was the implicit and explicit message I received when I pushed back against these problems.

    As stated above, the company is aware that there are culture problems; the turnover rate alone is a red flag. However, at least within my department, many of the proposed solutions didn't make sense for the kind of organization SmithBucklin is. Some example companies we did research on in order to emulate were Google and Amazon. I found this curious, as SmithBucklin is not and will never be that kind of company; its very mission (to serve the missions of nonprofit client organizations) is antithetical to the missions of Amazon, Google, and other large, publicly-held companies.

    I'm also trying to be very careful in how I word this review, because I know for a fact the corporate marketing team does its level best to remove any and all negative reviews. I was also asked multiple times while working there to leave a review on Glassdoor, if I did in fact enjoy working there.

    Advice to Management

    Stop micromanaging. Trust your employees, and if you don't, train them better. Start diversifying leadership immediately.

  8. Helpful (5)

    "Unparalleled Experience for Lower than Average Pay"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Coordinator in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Coordinator in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at SmithBucklin full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    If you're looking to get into and stay in the association industry, then the experience that you will get at Smithbucklin is invaluable.

    A lot of people at stand alone associations don't have any idea how to do work that is outside of their department (i.e. if you're in events you don't know how to do board governance, if you're in membership you have no idea about how marketing works, etc.) but at Smithbucklin, you get a full range of how everything works at an association. Especially if you're part of an operations team. It's a very collaborative, team oriented company. The internal classes they offer are also wonderful and cover a lot that you might not learn elsewhere. I once heard someone say that Smithbucklin is the McDonald's of the association world, and that's a great way to describe the company and the experience you'll get. The autonomy you get over projects can be viewed as a pro or a con. You will get to work on important projects and have almost full control over them, however they don't pay you what they should for the level of work you'll be doing.

    Cons

    Smithbucklin underpays. Most people I know who leave for stand alone organizations are getting paid 15k-20k more a year than they were at SB and doing half of the work. The work life balance is fine at the beginning, but with so much staff turnover, the work piles up and piles up. Once they realize that you're good at your job, they'll give you more responsibility and expect you to do more work for the same salary or with minimal raises.

    There are also the usual negative office politics, but you'll get that pretty much everywhere you work.

    Advice to Management

    Give attention to the clients you already have and stop focusing so much on acquiring new business. That may be where the money is at, but if you don't provide good service to the clients that are already there, they're going to RFP and leave for better customer service elsewhere. Also, get rid of the upper management politics and promote solely based on how well people perform their job. Maybe then you wouldn't lose so much good talent to stand alones that pay better.

    Stop treating coordinators and below like they're indispensable even if they are. They conduct the day to day work for the organizations, and they shouldn't be ignored when it comes to decisions about which team they're going to be put on or which manager they're going to get. It has to cost more money to on-board someone new than it does to retain a great employee, pay them more, and involve them in important decisions.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Genuinely happy I work here"

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

    I have been working at SmithBucklin part-time

    Pros

    -Amazing coworkers
    -Client content rewarding and interesting
    -Huge amount of opportunity to learn and be involved on different projects, I've been encouraged to take the lead and find what I like/what I'm good at
    -Multiple supervisors for different teams so if you have a bad one it's not a lost cause
    -Perfect amount of travel
    -Rarely bored at work

    Cons

    -Pay is lower than it should be for the work
    -Low amount of holidays
    -Lack of oversight for incompetent upper management in some cases (particularly older clients)

    Advice to Management

    Work harder to keep younger staff longer. Even though a lot of companies have high turnover you can be doing better. This could be a place young people want to stay. Associates and coordinators work hard and increase holidays and pay would go a long way.


  10. "Na"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Chicago, IL

    Pros

    The people definitely made the job worth it

    Cons

    Over worked and low pay

    Advice to Management

    Hire more people when people quit


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