Keep ’em keen

Scott
Beagrie finds out how games company Electronic Arts keeps its employees loyal

It
would be easy for Electronic Arts (EA) to rest on its laurels when it comes to
attracting and retaining talent. The company, founded in Redwood City,
California, designs and manufactures some of the world’s best-selling computer
and console games including Harry Potter, FIFA Football and the Sims. But
despite operating in one of the fastest-growing and constantly challenging
sectors, the UK operation – which also doubles as the European headquarters –
has managed to notch up a top-10 position in the ‘Glad to be here’ (people who
love working for the company) section in this year’s Sunday Times 100 Best
Companies to Work For.

Winning
HR measures

Rachel
Page, HR manager, admits it helps that the company has “a fantastic story to
sell”, but the HR team has put in place a raft of measures that clearly
demonstrate its commitment to developing the workforce. Everything stems from
the personal development plan (PDP). Introduced this year, it is intended as a
partnership agreement between an individual and their line manager. The basis
for this is an annual discussion where strengths and areas on which to improve
are agreed upon, and these are updated at regular intervals. The ultimate aim
of the PDP, says Page, is to ensure employees feel fulfilled, challenged and
stretched.

Line
manager buy-in

Page
explains: “We fervently believe there is a responsibility with the individual
when it comes to development and they work with their line manager to fulfil
their potential. The PDP is almost like a contract they sign – we call it a
partnership, and those are the words we use in all of the training.”

Individual
PDPs are underpinned by an established performance management framework, put in
place and thoroughly supported by the European HR team that operates out of
Chertsey, Surrey and at a local level in each country. HR business partners
also work closely with the business to understand what the people issues are
and to provide solutions.

D
is for development

Page
is at pains to point out that there is more to development than sending staff
on internal training programmes and holding an annual discussion with them.
“Development could mean being involved in new projects, it could be about
internal transfers or external study – there’s a whole raft of different
interventions that we provide as an organisation to enable people to maximise
their potential,” she says.

To
this end, the company also encourages its employees to ‘think creatively’ about
development and to seek opportunities to build skills and knowledge outside of
the organisation. “It is recognising that if an individual is developing their
skills, ultimately that is going to increase their performance within their
role.”

Recruiting
the right people

EA
spends an enormous amount of time on the recruitment process and as much time
with a candidate as possible before a recruitment decision is made. This helps
with the value fit between the individual and EA, and as Page points out: “It’s
as much for the individual to make up their mind about us and ensure there is a
right fit, as the other way round.”

Comments are closed.