What is the difference between a good place to work and a great place to work? Hint: culture.
According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that corporate culture is important to business success. Another study by CultureIQ shows that employees’ overall assessments of their company’s attributes, including collaboration, environment, and values, are 20% higher in companies that display a strong culture.
What does it mean? If a company does not have a culture that is focused on employees and promotes their well-being, it will not be able to see the success that it dreams of. One of the indispensable and paramount tasks of modern business is to make employees happy and provide them with a great experience. The HR department of Kevuru Games talks about how the corporate culture was built in the studio, at what stage they are now and what else they plan to do.
Kevuru Games Corporate Culture: Beginnings
In 2018, when Kevuru Games had 24 employees, the corporate culture was more of an intuitive and unanimously shared experience – employees worked in a positive atmosphere, socialized outside of work, and had fun corporate events. But when the staff tripled a year later and outgrew its original intimacy, there was a need for a clear and structured system that would become a universal guide for any employee and would provide comprehensive instructions on issues regarding learning, adaptation, motivation, growth and more.
The HR team analyzed the current state of affairs, collected feedback from the heads of departments, and actively engaged in filling the knowledge base.
Everything was going well, but the 2020 pandemic made adjustments to the process of building a corporate culture. The safety and health of employees required radical measures – the transition to a remote work mode. At the same time, most of the people hired from that moment not only did not see the office and could not appreciate the atmosphere in the team, but did not even have the opportunity to get to know their immediate supervisor other than through video communication.
The remote mode largely nullified the previously established corporate traditions. Short informal negotiations in the kitchen over a cup of tea dissolved into harsh realities. And the task of “stitching” the team came to the fore, especially given the large number of newcomers.
Feedback mechanisms have changed – communication with employees has become more regular and systematized. This was especially important for people not to consider themselves abandoned and not interesting to anyone, but to feel like full-fledged members of the team.
Since the beginning of remote work, the practice of common Friday calls with the participation of the CEO has been introduced. All teams take part. The point of these team calls is to keep the company up to date on current tasks, innovations, completed projects, and to give everyone the opportunity to collectively welcome new hires. Also, marketing and HR departments are sure to prepare special layouts about completed projects and successful tests, where they thank the team that took part in the work. Such layouts are published in the general chat of employees. Well, after discussing business issues, employees periodically arrange remote cocktail parties, communicate on non-work topics and play online games.
In 2021, the size of the Kevuru Games team exceeded 300 people. It would seem that in such a large team, you can easily get lost and go unnoticed. But nothing of the kind. The HR department always reminds in time when someone has a birthday or an anniversary of work and which of the employees receives a promotion. And this is only a small part of what is being done to make each of the huge team feel important and needed. And it all starts with the first job interview.
Hiring: From the Offer to the First Meeting
In a month, the recruiting department deals with hundreds of responses to open vacancies. The team tries to process all letters within a day. Kevuru Games recruiters are sure that positive communication with a pleasant aftertaste should be established with each person, because even if the candidate does not fit, they may have contacts that will be useful for the company in the future.
As for candidates who showed great zeal in getting the desired position, but who lacked certain knowledge or skills, they are not left to chance: recruiters clearly prescribe what exactly needs to be improved, or they can even offer another position that is more suitable in according to skill set. If a person applied for a position that is not currently relevant, recruiters record the appeal and promise to contact the candidate if a corresponding vacancy appears. And these are not empty words.
Often you can hear the mysterious phrase “candidate base” from different companies. In the case of Kevuru Games, it really exists and consists precisely of those people who at some point, for certain reasons, could not take the desired position. If the vacancy is still relevant for them, recruiters get not only a perfect match for the right skills, but also the opportunity to save time on an acquaintance – after all, it has already taken place.
Such a system makes it possible to close vacancies at a speed of two weeks, although sometimes it turns out faster. A positive reputation and HR brand contribute to the fact that today about 25% of candidates themselves are looking for a company that they have heard a lot of good things about. Recruitment lifecycle analytics is conducted by Head of Recruitment. He captures the stages of the search, analyzes the rate of closing vacancies, takes into account the ratio of offers to refusals, etc.
In general, the recruitment process looks like this:
- Posting a vacancy on the website and external resources while simultaneously searching for suitable candidates in the database.
- Getting to know a recruiter.
- Test task for certain positions. If this is not provided, then automatic transition to the next stage.
- Interview with the head of the department and a representative of the HR department.
- The result is an offer or a detailed explanation of the refusal.
The online interview is conducted using Google Meet. The first interview with the recruiter is of an introductory nature – he or she tells the candidate about the company, the vacancy and upcoming duties, asks about work experience and conducts an initial analysis of the correspondence of the person’s values to the values of the company. The second interview is a more detailed and in-depth conversation with the recruiter and a conversation with the head of the direction, which may include more narrowly focused specific questions in accordance with the candidate’s specialization. After it, the company indicates the date by which the result of the interview will be ready.
In case of a positive outcome, the newly minted employee moves on to the next stage.
Onboarding and Adaptation
In remote mode, onboarding requires especially close attention and focus on all the little things, from providing access to work accounts and mail to an instant answer to any question that a person has. Thanks to the formed database, answers to the most common questions no longer cause problems, and the well-established procedure for the technical introduction of employees into the company’s ecosystem makes them quick and easy to appear in all work chats.
The arrival of a new person is always accompanied by posting a postcard in the work chat with their name, position and interests, which they considered necessary to tell about themselves. Of course, they also get to know their team, for which a separate call is organized, where even in remote work mode, new employees see the faces of their colleagues and communicate with each of them personally.
Since January 2022, the company has been providing all newcomers with welcome packs – sets of branded merchandise designed to help employees quickly get used to the idea that now they are real team members.
During the trial period, HR holds regular meetings with the newcomer to keep abreast and correct various issues that arise. Calls are scheduled after the first 2 weeks, a month, two months or more, if required.
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Adapting to the new quarantine realities, improved communication systems, increased attention to new employees and the desire to constantly keep each person up to date with the life of the company – all this is done because people are the main value of the company.
The corporate culture of Kevuru Games promotes a special scheme of interaction between leads and the team – they motivate their employees, communicate personally with each of them, and always meet halfway when questions or difficulties arise. For studio leads, the mood of each team member is important, and they are ready to deal with each specific case.
Constantly improving your skills and keeping up with the latest trends is very important for game industry workers. For example, some teams organize interactive courses in which each artist, who has some unusual or exclusive skills, gives lectures to the whole team. This happens several times a month. Artists talk about some unique tricks, pipelines that are successfully practiced, for example, features of sculpting organic structures, texturing.
At Kevuru Games, no one is left alone with burnout: employees can be offered a transition to another project that is more interesting to them, or, in case of exclusivity and indispensability, the company can create all the necessary conditions for comfortable work. It can be a special schedule, special conditions, even a kind of psychological help from PM. When interacting with a customer in an inconvenient time zone, teams use the individual duty format for calls. If a person no longer really has the strength or creative enthusiasm, then he or she can use the sabbatical option – an individual career pause that allows to completely turn off the processes for a certain time, relax and reboot, and then return to the workplace fresh and full of energy.
The staff turnover rate at Kevuru Games is incredibly low and does not consistently exceed 4%.
Kevuru Games Values
Almost every successful company has strong corporate values that define the company’s identity, distinguish it from competitors, and help attract the right employees and customers who share these principles.
At Kevuru Games, they are as follows:
- Diversity. The company is equally glad to see people of any gender, age, race, orientation and religion. Offensive or derogatory jokes, allusions and memes on such topics are unacceptable.
- Transparency. The company strives to make all processes and decision-making procedures as clear and transparent as possible. Open communication within the team is maintained, and all decisions and expectations are always discussed together.
- Corporate spirit. All departments work together for a common result and are always ready to help each other in case of difficulties. No one is left alone with their problem: teamwork implies a joint solution of any issues.
- Confidence. The work is built on mutual trust. Employees trust their colleagues as real professionals who are responsible for their work, and they are firmly convinced that the company will fulfill all its obligations to them.
- Creative passion. All specialists are dedicated to their work, so each project is supported by exceptional involvement and creative enthusiasm. Thanks to this, the company manages to achieve results that exceed customer expectations.
- Open door policy. The company has developed an open door culture, when any request, offer or desire can be addressed to any of the leads, heads or directly to the CEO. New ideas are welcome: those are always implemented if they are useful for streamlining workflows and achieving excellent results.
Taken individually, these values are nothing extraordinary, but collectively they are the force that moves the company forward, makes it unique, and attracts people to it. This is the reputation of the company, those qualities that first of all come to the mind of those who think about it.
Work takes up most of the life of every person, and it is important to understand that in addition to interesting tasks and a comfortable environment, each employee needs support and motivation. This is how the company operates care programs, the purpose of which is maximum care for employees.
Among the main ones are the following:
- Performance appraisal program. Every six months, starting from the end of the trial period, a Performance Appraisal meeting is held with each employee based on the results of their work and the level of their skills to determine points of growth and development. Career growth can be both vertical and horizontal. For example, a 2D artist who is carried away by 3D and a little tired of his or her tasks is free to move to the position of a 3D specialist, provided there is an open vacancy and relevant proven skills. It is important for the company to support the creative fervor of employees and give them the opportunity not only to grow within the same position, but also to update themselves, look for tasks that are interesting for them and not get hung up on what has lost interest due to habit or fear to speak out. Once a year, based on the Performance & Professional Development Plan (PPD), the employee may also be reviewed the level of monetary compensation.
- Personal schedule and overtime program. Each employee, in agreement with the lead, can choose a convenient work schedule for themselves and start their day from 8 to 11 am with a non-fixed lunch break (you can also choose whether it will last 1 hour or 2). Such flexibility of the work schedule was developed, among other things, because the company employs a lot of creative specialists, whose productivity and inspiration depend on biorhythms, time of day and quality rest. Another banal, it would seem, but at the same time a very important nuance of overtime is that Kevuru Games value the time and work of employees. Therefore, if there is a need for overtime work, the PMO office can make an offer of this work and, if the employee agrees, mandatory compensation for these hours.
- Training and development program. Everyone in the company has a personal training budget that can be used to pay for professional courses, seminars and conferences.
- Health program. If an employee has been with the company for more than a year, the company offers them voluntary health insurance. Also once a year, the company compensates employees for the cost of vaccination against seasonal flu.
- Birth support program. For employees who are expecting a child, the company offers additional paid vacation days after the birth of the baby, as well as material compensation monthly during the first year of the child’s life.
Team at Work and Out of It: Spending Time Together
Joint events are a separate component of the corporate culture – it is difficult to imagine a more appropriate moment to get to know each other, communicate, and just feel like part of a large team in reality.
The lack of personal meetings was especially pronounced in the first year of quarantine. After the first wave of the pandemic receded, the company’s office opened its doors to everyone who wanted to restore the disturbed social balance. So, despite the fact that most of the team continues to work remotely, each employee can work from the office if they have such a need.
Recently, HR began to note that the craving for socialization and common pastime with colleagues has become more and more noticeable. About once a week after the end of the working day, the colleagues from different teams present in the office have began to gather for board games. If desired, they are joined by others who prefer remote mode, but do not mind coming to the office in the evening for live communication with colleagues.
Twice a year, Kevuru Games hosts large corporate events. In summer, this is a joint trip to nature with many sports activities; in winter – an interesting theme party with bright photo zones, New Year’s contests and incendiary dances. The pandemic has made adjustments to this schedule, and in 2020, offline events had to be abandoned for the safety of employees. But in 2021, the team managed to catch up – both summer and winter. An interesting fact is that employees want to see each other live so much that they come to common corporate events even from other cities of Ukraine (and the company compensates for all travel costs).
But since the last two years have not been without online parties, Kevuru also likes this kind of entertainment: for example, the Halloween party was held on Zoom, where everyone showed off their cool image. The company gave prizes for the best. Gifts will be discussed later.
Sources of Motivation
At Kevuru Games, first of all, employees are motivated by a common goal and their involvement in the creation of cool gaming products. It’s hard to hide your delight when, for example, Lucasfilm, the American film studio of Walt Disney Studios, adds your name to the credits of their new game, because you created 3D characters for it. It’s also impossible to keep your hands from trembling as you flip through endless pictures of cosplayers wearing the Fortnite skin suits you designed. Involvement in the global gaming industry inspires, and the visual results of the work, the delight of the players and the sincere gratitude of customers motivate more than any other awards – they are priceless.
However, the matter is not limited to this. The HR department of Kevuru Games is confident in the strength of the balance between the intangible and the material. Therefore, employees regularly receive pleasant gifts from the company for all holidays: Easter, New Year, St. Nicholas Day, etc. In the nearest plans for 2022: valuable gifts for anniversaries of work in the company, birthdays and other important events in the life of each employee.
Team Path to Success
In two years of quarantine restrictions and remote work, the company managed to grow almost three times. The number of implemented projects has passed over a hundred, and more and more world-famous publishers are paying attention to a professional and, most importantly, enthusiastic team. The results of the company became possible only thanks to people – in their hands are both the success already achieved and further development.
As BizDevs at Kevuru Games say, for many foreign clients, not only the company’s portfolio is important, but also its corporate culture, attitude towards employees, and social policies. In the West, for many companies, these are essential components of success.
Kevuru Games is very close to such a format, when professionalism and humanity are equally important and necessary. The team is against the toxic atmosphere and immediately stops it. A comfortable work environment for everyone is valued above one specialist with brilliant hard skills, but an unpleasant or specific character.
The main philosophy of the company is that a person can be taught everything. The main thing is the conditions in which the employee will be.
If this environment is supportive, then a wonderful specialist will grow up. Empathy and the ability to create the right atmosphere in a team are very important values, but they must be inside a person.
CEO of Kevuru Games Oleg Goncharenko expresses this idea in the following way:
“Our business is built on people. We do our best to make people feel as comfortable as possible in our company. We create conditions under which at each level people must have certain leadership qualities and inspire the teams they work with. This allows us to grow excellent motivated specialists and attract new talents. We do not micromanage and control every human action. We give maximum freedom in work, but we focus on the result, the achievement of which is important for each member of the team. This is the only way the company can expect that the employee with interest and great motivation will go towards all the ambitious goals that it sets for itself.”