One thought on “When you might lose some of your team”

  1. In the computer game industry, I believe the biggest impetus to employee departure is their confidence in the company, and the abilities of the management.


    Small to mid-size companies in the computer games industry are notoriously volatile. It’s not uncommon for a corporate collapse to leave employees out in the cold, without any severance or back-pay, and frequently with wages still owed to employees. Yes, some of this may be recoverable in court, but former employees have a natural reluctance to ruin references and goodwill to help get another job, just for the chance of receiving a fraction of the money owed years later.

    Even if someone has not experienced that, in the computer game industry, members of your team probably know someone who experienced this kind of horror story. The writers of the Harvard Business Review mostly live in a world far, far removed from this kind of “wild west” business environment. Therefore, their studies almost certainly are biased toward employees at companies with greater stability.

    I do not have any statistics, but in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the security and safety of a job trumps issues of esteem or self-actualization. In my 33 years inside the computer games industry, I have repeatedly seen people leave a company because its future is uncertain. Sometimes they get a better position, but in almost every case, they feel their new company gives more job security.


    The computer game industry has many young, upstart companies. Management expertise and valuing employees may not be in the “Corporate DNA.” Poor leadership and management of human resources is another leading cause of people leaving a computer game company. Many managers don’t explain decisions, don’t appear to listen to their employees, and project after project create weak estimates and plans that repeatedly lead to projects requiring much overtime, as well as going over schedule.

    For example, some companies expect that development teams will spend four to six months in “crunch time” (60-80 hour weeks) at the end of a project. Schedules and workloads are built around this implicit assumption. This kind of planning is calculated, crass exploitation, regardless of whether it is conscious or unconscious in management’s mind. When workers see it happening again and again, they recognize it and take action appropriately.

    Apparently, this situation is rare enough in the businesses studied by the HBR authors that it became invisible within their study. However, if they their study had concentrated on the employees of EA and Activision over the last 15 years, and compared it to work patterns within those companies, I think a different image would have emerged.

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