Fostering Inclusion and Prioritising Well-Being at Player Research – Part II

28 May 2024

Fostering Inclusion and Prioritising Well-Being at Player Research – Part II

Player Research’s human-first approach is an important part of making everyone feel like they belong and are valued here.

What does a ‘human-first’ system look like? Well, it means that whilst the work we do is incredibly important to us, it is never considered to be more important than our personal lives and well-being, particularly when people need additional support.

I’ve worked as a Researcher at Player Research since 2018; I’m proud of the positive working culture that we’ve established and sustained over many years, and I’m happy to share some parts of our process you can take away and apply from this two-part article.

Illustration of abstract figures, one with a listening ear, one holding up a star, and a small group embracing each other

Be sure to read the first article here where I cover some additional principles important in creating an inclusive work environment.

In this Part II, the following topics will be covered:

  • Valuing People’s Time and Needs
  • No Crunch
  • Prioritising Well-being & Mental Health
  • Favoring Flexibility in Remote Work Possibilities

Valuing People’s Time and Needs

At Player Research care and compassion are central to our values; we are treated as people first, and employees second. This means that personal circumstances in our lives and our day-to-day needs are taken into account.

If we need to book a doctor’s appointment during working hours or need to leave early to get to the post office before close, then we can. It’s that simple. There’s a mutual sense of trust and respect across the business that empowers us to have the autonomy to do this, which is never taken for granted.

We’re given the freedom and flexibility to make up for lost time when needed so our colleagues  aren’t negatively impacted by this approach.

“A compassion-based sickness policy results in greater trust and respect between company and employees.”

Instead of a strict, fear-based policy surrounding sickness, at Player Research we are encouraged to rest and take time off if we’re feeling rough, experiencing period pain, or have a cold. We don’t believe there’s value in pushing through when you’re not feeling 100% because we recognise that personal well-being shouldn’t be compromised for work.

An approach like this not only protects the rest of the team by helping to avoid spreading infections around the office, but a compassion-based sickness policy results in greater trust and respect between company and employees.

Every person at Player Research actively supports one another to take time off when they need to rest and get better, which means taking sick days is expected and straightforward rather than being any kind of additional source of stress.

No Crunch

As a vendor, we are independent of the internal deadlines and management practices that lead to crunch elsewhere in the games industry, and as a company we make the choice to avoid crunch.

We’re in control of our schedules, so we carefully plan and scope projects to keep crunch out of our work.

Some research requires evening, weekend, travel, or longer days, and we commit to proactively planning those projects with staff wellbeing front of mind — using lieu days, downtime, flexible hours, extra pay and/or spreading the workload between additional staff.

Illustration of an open hand with a pink butterfly flying away

Prioritising Well-being & Mental Health

At Player Research, staff well-being and mental health is, and always has been, a top priority.

It’s an area our whole team cares about and invests in, and we recognise the value in exchanging advice and support to each other regarding how to cope with and prevent stress at work and in everyday life. Everyone at Player Research has access to mental health support and crisis lines via Keywords’ Employee Assistance Programme.

To speak candidly about my own experiences, I have been at Player Research during episodes of depression, and I have social anxiety which sometimes has an impact on my work. When I have disclosed this to my managers and my colleagues, both have been nothing but supportive and accommodating.

It is one thing to feel safe enough at my workplace to talk openly about my mental health with everyone, but I feel so grateful that it is something people take seriously and look to support me with where necessary. I’ve had days where I tried to work but it was just too much for me to handle mentally, and my colleagues met me with kindness and sent me home so I could take care of myself.

I feel incredibly grateful to work somewhere that is understanding and accommodating regarding mental health; it means we can feel safe expressing personal struggles knowing we won’t be questioned, dismissed, or criticized in any way. That is a level of safety and respect I definitely don’t take for granted.

One of our Games User Researchers, Harvey, is a member on the Keywords well-being committee which means he does additional targeted work to improve and deliver policies centered on employee well-being to studios across Keywords studios.

Favoring Flexibility in Remote Work

Working from home was something we could do at Player Research even before the periods of lockdown during COVID, demonstrating our longstanding recognition of the benefits of flexible working environments.

Our appreciation of the importance of being able to work from home since then only strengthened; having spent over 2 years working entirely from home gave us the tools necessary to keep to our goal of keeping employees and playtesters safe.

Present day and moving forward we are committed to maintaining that flexibility, with hybrid working in place for Games User Researchers, and some fully remote roles available for other positions at the company. We recognise people have different preferences, environmental needs, and working styles hence the decision about working from the office or from home is down to each individual.

In the future, we will continue to review all the roles we have and new roles we add, for their potential to be remote — whilst also ensuring they’re sustainable & lead to great employee and client experience – since we see the value this has in widening the diversity of people who are able to join us at Player Research. We’re also helping support work from home opportunities and part-time work, particularly within our Advancing Accessibility offering.

 

 

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Once again it would be lovely to hear anyone’s thoughts in response to this article, and we invite you to share your experiences and ideas with us on social media!

Written by

Portrait of Chloe Snell MA

Chloe Snell MA

Games User Researcher