*reprinted from the Journal on my company website*
I’m working with a client on creating a web tool for improving game studios. It surveys developers on various aspects of their work life such as Values, Health, and Immediate Supervisor, and then provides a synopsis and some suggestions for improvement. This area of business is broadly referred to as Employee Engagement, and there are umpteen surveys on the subject but none have ever been created specifically for game developers, by game developers. I’m pretty excited about it. (If you’re interested in a tool like this, contact me outside of this post and we’ll talk about getting you a review link to the prototype. I’d love to hear your thoughts!)
I’ve been pinging friends and colleagues to get in touch with HR representatives at their studios so I can get feedback on a prototype of my client’s employee engagement tool. HR folks tend to have really good insight and understanding of the subject matter and I’ve already received some excellent input from the HR reps at a few major studios.
I reached out to one friend recently who passed along my feedback request to his HR director. This particular studio is owned by a larger corporation, a fact which hadn’t occurred to me as being detrimental until my friend’s response came back.
“She said no”, was the reply. I pressed further, since this was a puzzling turn of events. Why would someone whose job it is to represent the needs of the employees turn down an opportunity to help improve a tool designed to represent the needs of the employees? It made no sense at all until my friend clarified: “she said corporate wouldn’t like it.”
I still don’t know if I’m more furious or frustrated.
I’m certainly not mad at this unfortunate HR director. Having worked in a studio owned by a large corporation I can completely understand her position and I know it’s not her fault. What infuriates me is the knowledge that corporate hierarchies like this exist in our industry and that they do, in fact, promulgate an environment in which you’re discouraged from using anything other than “the proper channels” to improve your studio. As if the folks actually trying to make things better for game developers don’t face enough of an uphill struggle as it is. They’re on the beach trying to sweep all the water back into the ocean with a rake, and they’re being told they’re only allowed to use certain rakes.