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Retaining Talent in Turbulent Times: Strategies for Video Game Studios

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Recently, the games industry has faced significant turbulence with studios large and small under economic pressures, resulting in widespread redundancies and in some cases, studio closures. This has affected the immediate job security of countless devs within the sector and also raises questions about how studios can maintain their competitive edge and retain their devs during such challenging times.

Retaining talent becomes not just an HR function but a key goal of the wider company. Below are several strategies that can help studios keep their best people.

 Strategic Approaches to Retention

Cultivating a Strong Company Culture

One of the most effective ways to keep talent is to cultivate a workplace culture that employees are proud to be part of. This is more than just offering competitive salaries and benefits; it's about creating an environment that supports collaboration, innovation, and respect across all levels of the organisation.

Encourage Open Communication: foster an atmosphere where feedback is not only accepted but actively looked for. This can help employees feel valued and integral to the decision-making process, enhancing their commitment to the company.

Recognise and Reward Contributions: regular acknowledgment of hard work and achievements can boost morale and motivation, making a team feel recognised and appreciated.

Career Development Opportunities

Professional growth is an important factor in staff retention, employees are more likely to stay with a company if they see a clear path to advancement in their careers.

Tailored Growth Plans: work with employees to identify career aspirations and set up personalised development plans that align with their personal goals as well as the company’s needs.

Continuous Learning and Education: offer opportunities for employees to acquire new skills or strengthen existing ones, whether through training programs, workshops, or access to courses or mentors.

Ensuring Job Security and Stability

In an industry known for its cycles, a sense of stability and security is highly sought after by employees.

Transparent Communication: open lines of communication with employees about the health and direction of the business, transparency can reduce anxiety and build trust, even if the news isn’t always positive.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Embracing flexible working models can help keep employees who value flexibility and work-life balance.

Hybrid Models: allowing employees to split their time between working from home and the office can improve job satisfaction and productivity.

Flexible Hours: accommodate different work styles by allowing employees to work hours that suit them best, as long as it aligns with team goals and project needs.

Compensation and Benefits

While a good salary might not be the sole reason employees stay, it certainly plays a crucial role. The games industry certainly doesn’t lag behind other industries when it comes to perks and benefits, and while increasing the number of benefits might not be an option for all studios, allowing staff to choose which benefits matter to them is an alternative option that we here at Aardvark Swift have implemented.

Competitive Salaries: regularly review and adjust salaries to ensure they remain competitive within the industry.

Benefits Packages: comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, dental and vision cover, enhanced pension contributions, enhanced maternity and paternity leave, parental policies, wellness programs, personal development courses, volunteer leave are all popular benefits that can help an employer stand out from other competitors.

Tactics for Retaining Top Talent

Outside of strategic decisions which need to be implemented at a high level there are a number of effective tactics that can be brought into effect at a lower, department or team level.

Training and Development

Finding training and development opportunities for staff to fill any skill gaps and foster their career growth, ensures employees feel they are growing professionally and have a clear path forward within the studio and/or wider industry.

Cross-Pollination of Skills

Encouraging collaboration between different departments helps build rapport and enrich employee skills. This can include show-and-tell sessions to share knowledge and expertise across disciplines and the studio, and also brings a wider appreciation of the work done by colleagues.

Leveraging Passion

Studios can capitalise on the personal passion their team have for games by involving them in creative processes and decision-making which ties their personal interests directly to their professional work.

Recognition and Rewards

Recognising and rewarding employees not only for their achievements but also for their potential improves morale and loyalty. This can involve finding skill superstars and providing them with leadership opportunities such as mentoring junior colleagues. Another possibility is the introduction of a peer-to-peer recognition program, where staff nominate each other for outstanding contributions and embodying studios values.

Work-Life Balance

Promoting a healthy balance between professional and personal life is crucial. This includes flexible working arrangements, possibly hybrid or remote work, and encouraging staff to use their leave allocation.

Retention Tactics

Companies should look to implement opportunities to gauge satisfaction like regularly asking employees for feedback on their job satisfaction and then acting on these highly relevant and actionable insights to make improvements to working practices.

Methods for Gauging Employee Satisfaction

Gauging employee satisfaction is important at any time, but it is especially so in the current climate. We’ve set out below several methods that allow managers and HR teams to assess how happy staff members are.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Regularly conducting detailed surveys can provide insights into employee sentiment and satisfaction. These surveys should be anonymous to encourage honest feedback and include questions about job satisfaction, workplace environment, internal communication and management effectiveness.

Feedback Sessions

Hosting open forums, drop-in sessions or feedback sessions where employees can voice their concerns and suggestions in a safe environment are invaluable. These sessions can be both formal and informal, and they allow for direct interaction between employees and management or HR.

One-on-One Meetings

Encourage managers to hold regular one-on-one meetings with their team members to discuss any concerns and gather feedback on their job satisfaction. This personalised approach can help identify issues before they escalate.

Exit Interviews

For employees who decide to leave, conducting exit interviews can offer crucial insights into their reasons for leaving and overall satisfaction. This information is instrumental in finding areas for improvement.

Pulse Surveys

Short, frequent surveys often known as pulse surveys can help track changes in employee sentiment over time, providing a quicker way to respond to shifts in mood or satisfaction.

Performance Reviews

Utilise performance review sessions to not only assess employee achievements but also to gauge their happiness and engagement levels. This can also be an opportunity for employees to express their career aspirations and any support they need from the organisation.



Retaining top talent in the face of industry uncertainty requires a multifaceted approach. Studios that invest in their workforce, prioritise their well-being, communicate with their team and foster an environment of growth and stability are more likely to retain a loyal and motivated team.

The above strategies and tactics help enhance staff retention while also improving a studio’s employer brand and help to position a studio as a desirable place to work. In turn helping their efforts to attract top talent in a competitive and candidate saturated market. By understanding employees’ levels of happiness and engagement, especially during periods of industry upheaval, studios are better placed to navigate current challenges, while also paving the way for future success.