The games industry never settles for OK.
We're a critical bunch. We're quick to point out our mistakes and failures, and do it repeatedly. You can see it in the conferences we attend, on social media and, of course, across GamesIndustry.biz.
The HR and recruitment practices of the games industry are no exception. Our diversity is poor in all areas, we don't do enough to support graduates or train the next generation of talent, and a conversation on the horrors of crunch is never too far away.
It's commendable, in many ways, that we dish out such criticism on ourselves. But how do we get better? Are there any games companies that are doing a good job, which can inspire and educate the rest of us?
The answer is "Yes". That's what we've found out doing the Best Places To Work Awards for the UK. We've found companies that, thus far, have eradicated crunch. That take responsibility for helping young people get into games. That are making huge strides in improving ethnic and gender diversity.
There are 12 winners of the Best Places To Work Awards, and there's so much to read and feel inspired from. Whether that's how Criterion has empowered its staff to eliminate overwork, or how Space Ape has generated a strong culture by deliberately not having a HR department, or when Unity's global workforce questioned an exec decision openly on email to the whole company… and was encouraged to do so.
We'll be doing a lot more with these studios in the weeks to come, to see what else we can learn from their experiences. In the meantime, check out the Best Places UK winners across three categories and read up on what it is that has made them such special places to work.
How the best places were judged
Every company who entered the awards was sent two sets of surveys. The first was an employer survey, which featured 60 questions that looked at benefits, pay, holiday, diversity, growth, stability and more. The second survey was for employees, and featured 56 statements that staff had to agree or disagree with. These included views on their management, the benefits they receive, the culture of their studio, the technical support they receive and the workload that they face.
The employer survey accounted for 25% of the final score, with the employee responses accounting for the rest.
All 12 of our winning companies received an overall score of 85% or higher.See the list
A message from our sponsor
From the perspective of a recruiter, quality of life, working environment and real, meaningful benefits are all becoming increasingly important when we're speaking to candidates.
Many developers now value time they can spend with their families, or on commitments outside of work, so flexitime goes a long way. Any outstanding additional benefits really stand out to a job seeker. For example, the two Duvet Days that Playground Games offer staff every year, or the free bar in the Unity Brighton office. We know these generate interest, and as such are an effective and quirky means of attracting and retaining talent.
Continued professional development is another topic that often comes up. Candidates want to know if training is offered and if the studio encourages internal progression. Many developers are looking for careers, not just a job.
As a recruiter, we love studios with unique selling points. They really help us to sell your studio. And, in a market where demand is massively outstripping supply, any studio which doesn't put a lot of thought into their benefits package isn't giving themselves a good chance of hiring and retaining the best people.
Ian Goodall, MD