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What's wrong with HR and how can it be fixed?



https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2020-07-30-whats-wrong-with-hr-and-how-can-it-be-fixed

I thought this article was insightful. In my experience, HR at game companies has always been there as a shield for the company, not for the employees. It's essentially a way to shield a company from lawsuits.

I think most people don't realize this key fact of game industry culture. Certainly, companies try to hide this fact, actively masquerading HR as serving the employees when in practice it clearly does not.

Anyhow, giving more exposure to this issue is probably a good thing. I hope this helps foster change, but in the meantime watch your back whenever dealing with HR.

Replies

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J high dynamic range
    Having HR investigate employee harassment complaints is like when the cops investigate themselves for wrong-doing.

    There has to be non-affiliated oversight. But that doesn't produce any profit, so only the state could provide that. Seeing as how, at least here in America, or top dog is a serial abuser of just about every nature, good luck seeing that happen any time soon.

    Culture is changing but I think it is going to be mass chaos from climate refuges before the downtrodden can even begin to sniff equality. People will have bigger problems than toxic bosses.

    As always, don't be complacent. Look out for number one. Nobody else is going to.

    Also consider, you spend a certain amount of time to develop enough specialty to get a job in the industry, how will that pay you back down the road? I think future favors the generalist, especially a rapidly changing one. Don't dig yourself into a hole you can't get out of.
  • Eric Chadwick
    The other side of the argument, in all fairness...

    If you start your own studio, and it's growing well, you'll eventually need to protect your investment.

    It takes just one mentally unstable employee (or harassing manager) to totally screw your hard-earned studio, getting you into legal hot water, churning your savings through legal costs. And killing team morale, eventually causing valuable team members to jump ship, and your reputation to tank.

    So HR can serve a valuable purpose. Who's purpose though? Generally, not the employee's.
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J high dynamic range
    yeah i dont fault the individual. HR guy has to feed his kids too and he wont keep his job taking the side of someone on suicide mission. It's a bad situation for humans any time there is disconnection between people who have big impact on each others lives. I just try to avoid the environment altogether.

    Maybe with all these huge 3d libraries and cheap outsource labor, companies can strip their core development teams down to light and fast special forces model, rather than huge armies that are hard to maintain. Could be more selective in hiring, cut cost, too many benefits to list really. Instead of burning out the experienced seniors with foolish over-scoped, hollywood-wanna-be games and unchecked directors, take time to use those seniors to invest in training the next generation. Build teams first, then the winning products will come.

    I just projecting my small experience, but I always found things go smoother when focus on training professionalism and building the team first. Things just got a way of working themselves out from there. A lot of these problems that come from having big teams where people feel unaccountable to eachother will cease to exist.

  • marks
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    marks greentooth
    I mean, the key is in the name really.
    Human. Resources.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi high dynamic range
    Is it just me, or does the increase the cynicism about this career?
  • Biomag
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    Biomag polycounter
    Like with most corporate things that have been around for decades in other industries the games industry is just catching up as it matures. First you add a shiny new thing because on paper it sounds awesome and then you figure out why it never fixed all problems for as promised. One would think that while researching solutions that others applied before you you might as well take a closer look at the problems they faced, but who has the time to learn from other people's mistakes while dealing with your own...
  • marks
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    marks greentooth
    Right but the issue here is that this is not a solvable problem (in the sense that there is a known solution). Every industry faces issues with people-management and there is no known "solution".
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J high dynamic range
    knowledge is power. the more people know, less likely they are to fall into same trap. 

    dont you think unionization would at least help move things in the the workers favor though? i read over and over people who had big dreams of working in games industry but either quit or didnt start because the pay is so low and work conditions  sub-par compared to other industries. 

    unionization isn't answer to everything and brings its own problems, but collective bargaining power  could mean more livable wages for developers. Plus it does have precedence
  • Biomag
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    Biomag polycounter
    Lack of unions is a local issue. Probably only a big issue in USA (not sure how big the problem is in Canada). Most EU countries you don't have the problem, since you either protected already by laws (pretty much all those big issues you keep reading about are covered by laws here - at least in countries with significant industry presence) or you have the mobility to move into a different country part of the EU without visa issues (this also forces companies to stay competitive as employers). You also have countries where you might already be protected by unions even though they might not be video games specific.

    So unions would probably not be the solution for the whole industry, but I would suspect that in some places with low protections for workers they could help make big improvements. Internationally the competition for quality talent forces the employers anyhow to keep improving - slower than we might want, but the progress is noticible.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe polycount lvl 666
    Edit..

    Actually.  No.
  • zachagreg
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    zachagreg ngon master
    I understand that Human Resources in pretty much any industry is there to protect the company which employs them that part as always been obvious to me. I think the act of fixing what goes wrong with HR is a bit more complicated because it requires a lot of accountability and systems to change.

    HR doesn't really have power over a lot of higher ups in companies from my experience so to speak so if there is an issue higher than the average worker resolutions or terminations are a lot less likely. Also I don't think HR reps are personally responsible for their decisions they make regarding claims. I may be wrong in this but I feel like liability would also help the situation. I'm thinking similar to the liability that a bartender holds while doing their job. I don't see why an HR rep would be protected under the company if you are supposed to be a neutral party or what have you. If employees need someone that can actually work on claims from both directions within a company that someone should be in essence neutral and be responsible for the actions that they take regarding claims.

    If a harassment suit were to go through I'm pretty sure any HR reps would be fine regarding liability other than the company just letting them go because they still got sued. I find it odd that a bartender risks license removal, large fines, and jail time just like the bar does if they serve minors but a Human Resources rep is excused of all liability when dealing with cases or potentially illegal and harmful actions occurring in a company.

    I ifgure it can work like a 3rd party appraiser for a company that is hired or contracted to evaluate the company's finances. So that HR will have sway due to the contract and certain repercussions upon the company for non-compliance with their contracted HR firm. That way there is responsibility placed on the employee to follow the rules so to speak, the HR firm to take action against legitimate claims, and the company to foster a healthy work environment at multiple levels.

    Also since I'm spitballing maybe get rid of the forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
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