Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Reviews

Updated Jan 20, 2022

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Found 209 of over 241 reviews

2.5
37%
Recommend to a Friend
8%
Approve of CEO
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory CEO Doug Umbers  (no image)
Doug Umbers
10 Ratings
Pros
  • "Flexible working time and interesting work(in 54 reviews)

  • "Unique opportunities and flexible working(in 51 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "Dstl doesn't do research in the traditional academic sense(in 32 reviews)

  • "Salaries are well below civil service equivalents(in 29 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.
    1. 4.0
      Current Employee

      good

      Oct 2, 2021 - DST Women Scientist in Bangalore
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      nice experience in the lab

      Cons

      nothing that i can think of

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    2. 3.0
      Current Employee, more than 3 years

      For Trans people

      Jan 20, 2022 - Knowledge Agent 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      There is a huge community of people who are completely open and willing to support you in your identity whether established or newly coming out.

      Cons

      There are a few very loud people who are openly vocal in their transphobia which it does seem to taking some time to tackle as a response from a higher management level.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    3. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 10 years

      Interesting career

      Jan 18, 2022 - Anonymous Employee in Southampton, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Interesting work and more flexibility than much of MOD

      Cons

      Many of the negatives of civil service with less pay

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    4. 2.0
      Current Employee, more than 5 years

      Dream turned Nightmare - Looking for the door

      Jan 20, 2022 - Engineer in Salisbury, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The people at DSTL are what makes it. I've met some really fantastic and interesting people whilst here, but now they are all considering leaving so consider this a current short term benefit. It also does have some interesting work, however to say that it can't be done elsewhere is a lie, the 'unique' work can be done at several other defence contractors or even the MoD, all would be preferable to here. Flexi working is advantageous, so if I need an extra hour in bed in the morning I can take it and make it up later. It allows me to fully prepare myself and find whatever motivation I have left after working here. Although, due to self reporting hours, you do find some people are less than honest and don't actually do their work, suffering little to no repercussions. The training can be ok, especially for adding to your CV The company looks good on your CV as it has an image of professionalism and cutting edge

      Cons

      I joined this company understanding that I would be paid less than industry, its part of the civil service after all. I still accepted the position as I believed that I would be making a genuine difference, serving a patriotic duty and not just lining the pockets of another rich person with my hard work. When I joined, I stated that as long as I am treated fairly and with respect, I would happily continue my service at the company for decades as that is the sort of person I am. I wanted a job I was proud of. So it really shows you how bad things are when someone who fully meant those words as they spoke them, is looking for the door. I thought the world of this company, then I joined it. There are many reasons to complain at DSTL, but I will start with the pay. As mentioned, its the civil service so no reasonable person expects industry level of pay. However, what is totally unacceptable is that people within the same sector, doing similar work are paid more. And its not insignificant amounts either. We regularly compare our pay system to the MoD, and if you are unfortunate enough to be in the lower levels, expect to be paid 10-20% less then your counterpart there, then receive less of a pay increase as well. And in fact the only reason that the pay sometimes looks reasonable on the DSTL adverts is because they account for the performance zone, which is never used for existing staff, only to attract people to jobs where industry pay is so much more than we could ever offer. Whilst on the topic of levels and pay, I would also raise issue with the Career Level Review process. I have especially fallen foul of this system recently. The company runs on a system of levels, where in the higher the level, the increased amount of responsibility you are supposed to have and the more money you make. The issue with this is there are 2 windows in a year to submit an application to advance your level. I am consistently working at roughly 2 levels above my current, however, I cant simply skip to the level I am actually working at. Instead, I need to advance up one level, then work at that level for an extended period of time before I can then go up the other level due to arbitrary expectations of administration. So effectively I have been stalled to achieve the pay I probably should be making. Not only taht, to get into the higher levels, you have to surpass the level 5 barrier by which you effectively need to go into some kind of management to get up the levels past that point. What tends to happen is that people go into management purely to increase their levels. Its a flawed system. Then there is management, meaning senior management, not immediate management (My Team Leader is fantastic). These are the people who flat out ignore the criticisms of the company. Every year employees do a survey on how they feel about various elements of the company. This survey is blatantly ignored by upper management. Every year we score terribly when compared to the rest of the civil service, and its always the same complaints. The pay section is never considered, and is just shrugged off despite it consistently being the worst scoring section, and this is every single year without fail. The resentment is even further deepened when senior leaders say they don't feel we are underpaid. I honestly have no clue how they justify those kind of statements, but it shows how seriously they consider us in the lower levels. They say there isn't an issue as people aren't leaving en masse. The issue with this is that it doesn't account for the type of people DSTL attract, people like me. People who want to have a positive impact in the world with the vision of what DSTL could be, people who prefer consistency despite the fact they are suffering and those who hope for a brighter tomorrow. Either that or they are the people who know they have it easy and therefore won't leave as if they went into industry they may have to actually do work. I think if you were to measure the loss rate in years of experience lost, the turn over cost would be too high to ignore. We are losing talented people who could have been influential in this company. The work we do requires experience and dedication, creating the people we call lifers. Those that stay for decades and specialise to form our company. Now, we are seeing keen younger workers leave after a handful of years as they aren't paid enough, not replacing the lifers we lose. There is no future planning for these people. I had hoped I would be one of those lifers, but now...

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      1 person found this review helpful
    5. 4.0
      Former Employee, more than 1 year

      Interesting work

      Jan 2, 2022 - Industrial Placement Student in Sevenoaks, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Fulfilling and interesting work, with research aspects also, and access to defence discounts.

      Cons

      Not the most generous pay when compared to similar industrial placement jobs in the same region of the UK.

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    6. 2.0
      Former Employee, more than 5 years

      Interesting work but don’t stay too long

      Jan 11, 2022 - Senior Engineer in Salisbury, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Flexi time and pension. Interesting work with bright colleagues and unique customers.

      Cons

      Those who are competent at their job get overloaded with work whilst there is a lot of dead weight that can’t be got rid of. Infighting between divisions over resources. Low pay and morale with many years of below inflation pay rises. Roles in wider MoD and other Agencies pay more for the same role/similar work. Little to no promotion prospects once you reach a certain level with very rare opportunities for continued personal development/ training. Inert management with a refusal to acknowledge and take action to resolve the understaffing, low morale and pay issues.

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      3 people found this review helpful
    7. 2.0
      Current Employee, more than 8 years

      Lies and bad apathetic management

      Jan 5, 2022 - Principal Scientist in Portsmouth, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Interesting work that you can't do anywhere else. Your poor performance won't be punished or even called out. A lot of good people but who are drowned out by pockets of bad people in positions of power/influence.

      Cons

      A sizeable chunk of line management are there because they failed to advance technically and use it to cheat the system and promote. Not because they want to line manage or are good at it, this poor attitude and aptitude then poisons the well for everyone. They then move sideways back into technical work when they aren't actually able to operate at that level creating more work for everyone else who has to carry their slack. Senior management really just come accross as not caring. At a recent town hall they said bad reviews on Glassdoor didn't matter because they got a job... No mention of trying to fix any of the problems raised. Employees are expected to fix a lot of structural and cultural issues in the organisation in their own time. As poor performance isn't dealt with and people are allowed to coast on the bare minimum, people who start keen and engaged slowly become angry and resentful of them and then often turn into those people themselves. Senior management seem happy to lie to staff regarding anything that may be perceived as bad news (pay, reputation of the organisation, future prospects, major change programmes, what wider MOD thinks of us). Pay, terrible compared to both wider civil service and industry (if you're good at your job). Ironically because we're an organisation full of specialists no one gets paid specialists allowance, which they would get in most other civil service organisations. They claim they're trying to fix this but the allowance structure they've created is soo mired in problems and issues its been nearly a year since it was "understood and ready to implement" but no ones been paid it... Also because senior management clearly don't understand the organisation they got money for around 250 people to be paid it while 1500-2000 could justifiably claim it under the guidance. This will only result in wide spread resentment once its finally paid. Workload, horrendously high for those good at their jobs. Programme seniors have accepted more work then we have people for which leads to a lot of people overworking. There are some very passionate people in the organisation who then end up working for free (not allowed to book overtime) as they feel they will be letting the UK down if they don't get the work done. Change management and the seniors being honest when it doesn't work. The last major change programme (ROAD) they cancelled the follow up cost benefit review when it became obvious it had cost more and failed in its objectives. No review saying it failed means it didn't fail, right? The current EOS change programme looks like it will go the same way. Sexism, some bad pockets of it still exist and I've never seen a reprimand given for it (linked to wider poisoning of the well above). Most recent internal survery results are back and one of the worst years ever. Seniors response seems to be its COVIDs fault not ours, fingers in ears, let's move on and focus on the most minor positive we can find. Large procurement projects (new buildings, IT systems, etc.) are run not by hired experts but by senior scientists/engineer/analysts who have no experience in those areas. It's then a surprise when the projects over run, fail to deliver and blow their budgets. We tell MOD to use us when we're the experts can't we follow our own advice and hire experts in when we need them.

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      6 people found this review helpful
    8. 2.0
      Current Employee, more than 10 years

      Must do better

      Dec 19, 2021 - Principal Engineer in Salisbury, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Interesting work, flexible working, pension (this is only just a pro, over the years it’s been weakened), good people

      Cons

      Pay rises are very small (often 0%) and as a result pay is poor. Not enough staff to do the work, people do not have the capacity to do a good job. Too much red tape Senior management are powerless/incapable/unfit to lead

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      5 people found this review helpful
    9. 1.0
      Former Employee, more than 3 years

      Extremely frustrating experience

      Jan 1, 2022 - Senior Engineer in Salisbury, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Excellent CPD opportunities. Job for life. No penalty for failure.

      Cons

      No penalty for failure - no one I knew was measured against meeting specific objectives, and even if they were, a casual excuse of waiting on others is good enough. I was recruited for a role which didn't exist as presented in the interview. Full of lifers, some work hard and try to do their best but the culture is one of inefficiency, waste, timewasting, indifference and lack of focus on deliverables. Others know how protected they are and disrupt those trying to deliver, presumably it makes them feel important. Lack of resilience of many employees who seem to be triggered by anyone with a different view or different mannerisms. A bizarre bullying and harrasment claim against much of the team left the team demoralised, non-cohesive and unable to work together for the best part of a year, I was left without a role for a similar amount of time. Senior management let the issue fester and did nothing to sort the problem out quickly. After all, the taxpayers money will keep flowing in. Farcical interview process for promotion - was interviewed by people who knew next to nothing about the specialism. I might as well have gone to an interview for a lion tamer. To cap it all, despite me following the leaving process to the letter, HR failed to reaslise I had left the company. I have worked in highly dysfunctional companies before but this was an eye opener.

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      4 people found this review helpful
    10. 2.0
      Former Employee

      Another review

      Nov 27, 2021 - Scientist 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Good in places such as Flexi

      Cons

      Management is very bad. Not interested in staff.

      5 people found this review helpful
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