Westat- Telephone Data Collectors: With Benefits!
Updated on: by Miranda Grimm
Westat is an Employee Owned research company who has been in business since 1963. They are most proud of the work they have completed for several branches of the U.S. Military. Additionally, Westat works with businesses, foundations and local and state government agencies. Westat collects and processes data and research information. Therefore, they have many different types of positions available and they are all project based.
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What Do Westat Work at Home Agents Do?
There are a variety of job types and they can change as projects change. Most commonly I have heard Westat hires home based phone agents to conduct outbound calling, titled Telephone Data Collectors. This is not a sales type of position but rather collecting information from questionnaires. However, I have also heard they offer data entry based opportunities from time to time.
Does Westat Hire Employees or Independent Contractors to Work From Home?
The home based phone agents are hired as Employees. Training is completed from home and you are paid for your time.
What Are the Requirements to be a Home Agent for Westat?
In general, agents working for Westat are required to have high speed internet and a dedicated landline phone with a headset. As with most phone jobs, you will need a quiet working environment.
How Flexible is the Schedule at Westat?
It is reported that Westat requires you to work a minimum of 15 hours per week. Shifts are a minimum of 3 hours. You must submit your availability and Westat will schedule you based on your needs. Most of these projects are part-time and hours are not guaranteed. I believe you can drop hours when necessary, but I am not sure what the consequences are if the hours are not picked up by another agent.
How Much and When Do Westat Agents Get Paid?
Unless the information I have found is outdated, Westat agents who work at home, under the telephone data collection projects, have a beginning pay rate of 8.25/hour. If you are hired as a bilingual agent then you will see a rate of 10.25/hour and if you work between 9pm and midnight through the week or any weekend hours, you will see a shift differential pay of an additional 2.00/hour!
Agents are paid weekly. They receive a check on Friday for the work completed the previous Monday through Sunday. You may choose to either have your check direct deposited or wait to receive via US Mail.
Does Westat Offer Benefits?
Yes! This is one job we can add to our Jobs with Benefits!! Westat is an Employee owned company! Therefore, you can have your shot at a piece of this company! There is a minimum number of hours to qualify for benefits but I am not sure what they are. Here is an overview of everything Westat has to offer:
- A Share of Westat Ownership: “Each year since 1977 Westat has allocated shares of stock to employee-participants. Annual stock contributions range between 3 and 5 percent of an employee’s compensation.”
- Retirment Plan- 401(k): “Westat contributes 5 percent of an employee’s compensation each year along with a partial matching contribution.”
- Christmas Bonus!: “Employees receive cash payment in December based on the overall success of the company.”
- Paid Leave: “Westat provides employees with vacation time, sick leave, holiday time, and administrative leave for special situations such as jury duty, bereavement, and inclement weather.”
- Group Insurance: “Health, dental, life, travel accident, long-term disability, and a flexible benefits program (Flex Plan).”
Is Westat a Stable Home Based Job?
Westat offers projects that all have ending dates. You are able to accept or decline a project. You are not promised to always have a project and even if you are in a project you are not guaranteed a set number of hours. However, most of what I have read indicates that many agents move from one project to the next with little to no break between. This, of course, is not always going to be true with each person…but it does show some stability…just not entirely reliable.
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What Do Others Say About Working From Home For Westat?
- “LOVE IT! The people are soooooo nice and the time goes by so quickly.” -gramsworkhome at indeed forum
- “They paid me for the initial training, but when additional trainings came up…” -Bubbles8990 at WAHM.com forum
- “I am work(ing) for Westat. I really like what i am doing!” -Dacouper at WAHM.com forum
- “Employee review process is subjective; poor morale; spirit of collaboration seems to be dissipating; huge disparity between the way different areas of company are managed.” Westat Anonymous at Glassdoor.com (bear in mind this link is filled mainly with reviews of employees who work at Westat facilities, but it is important to get a full understanding of the company, from all aspects)
How to Learn More and Apply For Westat?
To Learn More about the home based positions at Westat visit their careers page where you can also watch for new openings.
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May 27, 2011 at 2:37 am
I’ve worked for Westat for years and they do not offer benefits for the at home employees. At home employees can get retirement benefits (but honestly it’s such a small, small amount that you’d do better putting your money in an interest-bearing savings account). With the retirement, you have to work a lot of hours to qualify and most of the at home workers don’t. I did used to qualify because I worked 40 hours a week, working that long it took a year to qualify for the retirement plan. For over a year now Westat has had very little work and even though they had the requirement of working 15 hours per week, most times you can’t even get that much work. The company has completely changed how you sign up for shifts, you used to list your hours you could work & they scheduled you within that timeframe if you were needed. Now they post available hours at various times (never scheduled) and you have to ‘grab’ hours. Many times if you’re not at your computer when they post hours, you end up getting no hours for the week. Most times you can only grab and hour or two here and there–it is now similar to fighting for hours when working for West. What’s worse at Westat, is that even if you ‘grab’ the hours, you are still not guaranteed those hours; you may ‘grab’ 5 hours but you have to wait for your schedule-when you get that, they may only have awarded you 1 of those 5 hours.
Only the employees that work in their offices get health benefits, they are not available at all to the at home workers. The at home workers also do not get a Christmas bonus. At home workers also do not get vacation time or any paid leave at all. If you need off you simply don’t grab hours for that day. You cannot take a vacation unless it’s cleared with your supervisor. You may get approved to take leave to go on vacation, but they also may drop you from the project because of it. When you accept a project you are agreeing that you will be available for the whole project, so they don’t like being asked for time off for vacation. If you have a death in the family you are allowed to take time off for that, they are very understanding in that situation, but you do not get paid.
They are a good company to work for, but they used to be a GREAT company. Since the recession, many of us at one point went 5 1/2 months without a project. I went from working steadily 40 hours a week to being thankful to even get 6 or 8 hours a week.
The job is also not for everyone. It is all outbound calling & the people you call 99% of the time are not happy to hear from you. You need to have a thick skin. You are never selling products, but it is similar to selling because you have to get people to agree to take a survey (that’s all you do, that’s what the work is). When you ask people to take a “20 minute survey” most will hang up on you right then. The ones who do agree get mad when it’s been 45 minutes and the survey is still going on. If they hang up on you before the survey is completed you do not get credit for it. You are paid by the hour but there are quotas they want you to meet. They will never give you numbers, they say it’s based on a formula of how everyone else is doing. They won’t fire you for not reaching quotas but they won’t ever give you another project if you don’t do well. What they will do is message you to get out of the system & they call you at home to tell you what you’re doing wrong since people are hanging up on you. It’s a running joke with the employees, you might only say “Hello, this is Tracy and I’m conducting research about” and the person hangs up on you. Since you are REQUIRED to read from a script, it’s nothing you’ve said wrong, because everyone has to say the same thing. But they’ll call you and say you don’t have good voice inflection, that you didn’t sound happy enough & that’s why the person hung up on you. Also, it’s an automated calling system, and if someone hangs up they’re called back repeatedly. So you may be the 12th person calling this person and by that time they’re really mad. Even if they’re cussing you out you must try to “reason” with them to get them to do the survey. A lot of people don’t last long in the job.
May 27, 2011 at 2:41 am
I cannot thank you enough for sharing this extremely helpful information and a viewpoint from someone on the ‘inside’! Thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to write this! I will update the post shortly and direct the readers to the comment section. thanks again!
August 28, 2011 at 11:53 am
I worked for Westat for more than two years from home. It is a really good company to work for, and what Tracy says is true. They have been hit by the recession and you do grab hours and hope you get them. Before that, I could work 40 hours if I wanted to, but I never did. I wanted a job where I could be home when my kids got home, and not spend a lot on gas and clothes. It was great for me at that time. They were very nice to work with.
As for the part about people not being happy to hear from you, it is all about how you approach people, and how much confidence is in your voice. They rate your skill on your cooperation rate, which, if I understand correctly, is the percentage of people who cooperate out of the number you actually reach. Keep in mind you reach a lot of recordings. My cooperation was over 39% while there. If you learn what your surveys are about and why they are important, and can explain that to the person you are calling in an educated and confident manner, you stand a good chance of getting them to help you out.
There are people who are just mean, or rude, or have had recent tragedies and take it out on you because you are calling during a bad period, but most people are not that bad. Even if they say no, you just move on to the next caller. It isn’t about how many say no, it is about how many you can get to help out.
You must have an office at home where you can close yourself away from noise (you are giving the impression of being in a call center environment, so it must sound professional) and must have high speed internet and a land line phone (by the way, I had Vonage and it worked but don’t tell them if you do) and you must use a PC (but I used a Mac with bootcamp on it, which works fine, but don’t tell them). That being said, if you meet those requirements, you can work days or nights, weekends or afternoons, holidays or not if the project has them, and the number of hours you want, provided they are available to work.
Don’t be afraid to try them. They are a true, legitimate company where you can work from your own home, get paid weekly by direct deposit, and stay in your jammies or sweats anytime you want. When work picks up for them, they are always looking for people with good “people” skills.
I know I sound like someone from their promotional department, but I just think they are a really good company that offers a great opportunity for someone who needs to work from home for any reason.
February 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm
I enjoy working with Westat. The work at home environment option has much perks. What I don’t get is how they make decisions to keep you or let you go from a specific project. I tried to get answers from a supervisor and instead got “released” from the project. They stated my refusal rate was high. At the time, I was working the National Adult Tobacco Survey.
Today, I keep working but don’t get the logic behind the drop from the study which in my opinion has better cooperation rate. I was allowed to keep working on a project with lower cooperation rate. Survey times vary due to content. Many times you will reach household members who hang up immediately just by the mere saying that you are calling about a survey, listen to the detailed introduction of the survey study then hu, cooperate until you disclose how long the survey will take and then become reluctant to continue participation eventually hanging up. I agree about reaching many answering machines but that is not even the challenge.
The challenge comes when the data collector is trying to convince the person on the other end of the phone to cooperate. Many times even if you pitch diffrent refusal avoidance techniques you can notice the voice of the household member reached becoming/becomed uncooperative no matter what you say next to him/her.
In conclusion, it is a great company to work from home. You get paid weekly. My only dissatisfaction is the way they easily conclude you are incompetent in a study. They should at least set up a coaching meet. Comply with the coaching meet time because an employee is a part-timer and may have other business to go about throughout the day/week. Be provided the opportunity to demonstrate the coaching skills aquired and then make a final decision to release him/her from a project. Any data collector can have a bad day. Since the collecting is performed by a random digit dialing system the possibility of calling same numbers is eminent and sample size creates a squeeze on cooperation rates daily. Also, another factor to consider is work in major holidays/special event days. During these days you might find your refusal rate at a staggering high. This in turn will create the possibility of being released from the project you are registering these refusal on.
March 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Please give me info to apply to work for your company for at home data collector positions.
August 21, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Ive worked for West’s since 2005 off and on more off than on… don’t waste your time