Ustwo Games’ Innovative Approach to Prioritizing Employee Mental Health in the Gaming Industry

Ustwo Games

Ustwo Games, one of the prominent figures within the gaming industry, has been spearheading a new approach to dealing with mental health problems among its employees.

Julie Piedrabuena, who is the head of people and culture at Ustwo Games, recently shared her thoughts during the HR summit organized by GamesIndustry.biz.

There she shed light on the importance of employee feedback in creating better mental health support in games development.

Piedrabuena began with an optimistic tone that emphasized the importance of personalized assistance for individuals acknowledging that challenges in games industry are diverse.

She also pointed out some alarming facts such as mental health being a major cause of both short-term and long-term UK absences according to the UKIE census.

It is worth noting that rates of anxiety and depression among those working in the games industry surpass those pervading all other industries with 38% reporting this trend up from 31% before Covid-19 struck.

The studio was forced by Covid-19 to change its strategies including quickening remote support implementation and adopting better communication methods required for hybrid work environments.

They used a comprehensive feedback culture in which they sought for change through active engagement with employees.

Among other things, it was done through making remote work setups easier, providing desks and equipment as staff suggested.

In order to deal with concerns over going back to offices following pandemic lockdowns, Ustwo Games came up with a travel allowance scheme that sets aside £500 yearly for commuting expenses.

Recognizing that there were areas beyond production space, Ustwo created areas where staff could meet socially or generate ideas as teams.

A healthy balance between work and life was intended by having an afternoon club while monthly meetings were scheduled for educational courses.

Training sessions and workshops were provided on mental health awareness, empathetic communication, inclusive hiring practices as well as mentoring which played a vital role in their strategy.

These initiatives were consistent with company’s values about diversity, inclusion and mental health.

Adaptable strategies were mentioned by Piedrabuena as well as the need for fine-tuning methods of addressing the emerging needs of employees.

Consequently, Ustwo Games increased sick leave to 25 days per year, improved flexible benefits and created guidelines on how to support workers healing from long-term diseases or surgeries.

Furthermore, Ustwo Games’ forward-thinking actions such as the work-from-anywhere policy which enables employees to work remotely for a month abroad yearly.

It demonstrated their keenness in catering for diverse lifestyles and family needs especially post-COVID-19 that came with travel restrictions.

An instance was given whereby an employee became a caregiver; hence, leaders had to alter their working hours with a reduced workload so that they could accommodate these changes in life circumstances.

Flexibility and inclusiveness are important in providing better mental well-being at workplaces that Piedrabuena said.

These policies she noted this goes beyond just changing during times such as the pandemic but leads to higher morale, productivity enhancement, talent retention and positive work environment.

However, she admitted there could be missteps reminding studios that they should take a trial-and-error stance by listening to staff members and finding external assistance or partners when developing effective mental health strategies.

In conclusion, according to Piedrabuena, mental health should be at the top of studio strategies.

She noted that studios should not only have an empathic culture but also be inclusive and always remember about mental health.

She pointed out as she encouraged studios to create collaborations and advance their methods that it is every employee’s duty to change for better what they have now so that gaming industry could be a place with healthier working conditions.

The pro-active and employee-centered approach demonstrated by Ustwo Games serves as a shining example to the rest of the gaming community and pushes it towards a new direction of putting employees’ mental well-being first.


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