Wooga and employee mental health: Episode Notes
Wooga, a well-known Berlin based game developer, have recently made it to the news for being 100% carbon neutral.
Given their impressive achievement, we approached them to discuss their employee mental health initiatives.
The gaming industry has long been under scrutiny for its long work hours (also referred to as “crunch”). In fact, game developers can be extremely passionate about their jobs, and often run the risk of wearing themselves out in order to deliver outstanding results within specific deadlines.
Since their foundation in 2009, Wooga have strived to implement a culture based on transparent communication and role-modeling, and have promoted several initiatives to foster their employees’ mental health.
Below are a few highlights from our discussion:
- Developing a sustainable culture is a long process. Before suggesting specific initiatives or even start collecting feedback, it is crucial to build trust with employees.
- Wooga first leveraged their own resources to create an internal counselor position. At a later stage, they partnered with an external provider to better measure feedback and expand their scope of support.
- Especially during the current pandemic, managers should be able to assess situations where they can be of support. On top of offering to help, it is important to proactively suggest that employees choose which tasks can be handed over or postponed.
- At Wooga, it is not uncommon for employees to attend knowledge exchange sessions, where experts in their field can share their views with like-minded professionals. This has turned out to be an effective Learning & Development exercise which requires limited time and effort.
- In July 2019, Wooga partnered up with Take This, a non-profit organization poised to address mental health issues in the game industry.
Our Guests: Lenka Kaciakova & Maike Steinweller
Lenka joined Wooga in 2012 as HR Business Partner. Back then, Wooga was a 3-year-old games company, enjoying tremendous success and going through a phase of hyper-growth.
Almost 8 years later, Wooga is dominating the hidden object games genre and is growing. Climbing to the top came with challenges and lessons learned. Lenka’s focus in this period was on sustainable workplace culture, change management and leadership development.
In her current position as VP HR, Lenka and her team work on creating a working environment where people are driven to contribute to Wooga’s success. A clear vision together with a people-centric culture keeps playing a major part in this. Prior to Wooga, Lenka worked at eBay, Accenture and startups in various HR roles.
Maike is Wooga’s Head of Communications. In that role her mantra is “Thoughtful Communication”, which is Wooga’s core company value and demonstrates the importance communication has for the Berlin based developer of story-driven casual games. Her focus for both external and internal communication is to share news in an authentic and transparent way, always ensuring to choose the right channels and spokesperson for each message.
Maike has been with Wooga since 2012 and held various roles within the PR & Communications team. Before joining Wooga she gained experience while working for trade associations as well as agencies.