The ‘’Stay Interview’’- How to retain staff in the games industry

The ‘’Stay Interview’’- How to retain staff in the games industry

This year’s our Games and Interactive Satisfaction Survey suggested that 74% of people would consider a position at a different studio this year. As with any industry, retaining your top staff is vitally important, not just to keep the good people on your team but to help attract new talent to your studio.

Personally, if you look back on the reasons for leaving your previous positions it would be my guess that most issues could have been resolved if they were addressed within the last 18 months of your employment. It’s important as managers that you therefore identify and address any potential problems by this simple, yet rarely used technique - the Stay Interview.

 

A recent Forbes article stated that “on the surface, the Stay Interview appears to be a mirror image of an exit interview, identifying things people like about their job rather than things they dislike.” However, if used correctly, it is far more valuable as it “provides insights managers can use to motivate and retain employees”.

The process of the interview also builds trust between the manager and the employee therefore forging a greater working relationship, so here are our 5 key points to consider when planning and carrying our your Stay Interviews.

 

1. When To Interview

The timing of the Stay interview is just as important as the interview itself. Being aware of any issues before they arise allows you to address the situation before any damage is done. If you wait until you are coming towards the end of a long-running project/release, your team could have been on the lookout for something fresh to move to for a while. Therefore, the window for keeping good employees may have already passed.

Another trend that we see in recruitment is an increase in people looking for jobs after a Christmas break when people have had time away from studios with their families and reflected on their work life. Holding a Stay Interview before the studio closes for Christmas, could go some way in preventing this.

Whenever you decide is best to do them, make sure you hold reviews annually at a minimum so employees feel they are being listened to on a regular basis.

 

2. Benefits Offered vs. Benefits Wanted

If there is a disparity between what is offered and wanted, where possible you should aim to put a programme of benefits in place based on what each individual employee wants instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. What works perfectly for one person will be unnecessary for another, and treating all employees as the same will mostly likely only ensure it is not a perfect fit for any singular person.

 

3. A Question of (Over)Time

While some crunch time is inevitable as a project enters its final phase, the impact on employee motivation and morale is well-documented. The problem is that if such overtime is a normal part of a company’s culture on a rolling basis, it suggests an inherent problem with how the business is run.

To combat the issue, you will need to carry out some company wide work on top of the Stay Interview. It will be helpful to carry out full internal audits to establish where bottlenecks are, why they exist and deal with them to prevent excessive hours and to reduce the risk of demoralised staff leaving.

Issues like crunch when they are company policy are not something that a stay interview may be able to resolve, so keeping an eye on this as a separate issue is important.

 

4. Passion Driver

It’s worth noting that the key reason or ‘benefit’ that keeps staff most happy is simple – that they are working on challenging and exciting projects. Perhaps that should come as no surprise; after all, it’s why we’re all working in this industry in the first place. But this alone cannot keep people happy. Especially in the current climate where we're all looking after our mental health a lot more, expecting people to live on passion alone is going to end badly. Even the best project in the world needs to give people space to be looked after in other ways.

 

5. What Next?

Once you've done your Stay Interviews, it is important that you make sure to address any issues that may be highlighted. The interview alone will not affect change, your actions after the interview are what will make the difference.

 

Summary

It’s also important to remember a moderate level of staff turnover can be good for a business; it means fresh ideas and approaches. However, every organisation needs to have a strategy in place to retain the high performers that give the company a competitive edge; they are the ones you can’t afford to lose.

If you are looking to add new, quality employees to your team, please do get in contact.

Associate Director - Games and Interactive Giles Fenwick

Giles runs our Gaming & Interactive division and specialises in forming tight knit teams, whether that’s for a studio or in our office. He represented his county at rugby for every age group from 12 onwards which no doubt helped him to cultivate his excellent understanding of team dynamics. Giles is known for his warmth and willingness to take time to work through any issues that may arise, although make sure you don’t try and share his food as then you won’t be getting a warm welcome – Giles doesn’t share food!

View all Giles Fenwick's jobs

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