Java is one of the top five independent gaming providers in Europe. Operating from a beautiful country manor house in Hertfordshire, Java currently has around 150 employees employed in a wide variety of roles that include programming, designing, quality assurance, graphics, plus the support activities like Public Relations, Human Resources, Finance and Administration. (About 30 of these staff are employed in support activities) Because Java is independent, it is not owned by or contracted to any single games publisher; instead, it focuses on developing games on behalf of different publishers and game platforms simultaneously. Thus Java is an official developer for Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation3 and Nintendo Wii, with several highly successful games in its portfolio.
The games industry is still in its infancy, but growth continues despite the current recession. It is highly competitive, very innovative and, by the same token, prone to trends and obsolescence as one product or platform is rapidly superseded by another – so keeping up to date and preferably ahead of the external marketplace is absolutely crucial to the company’s long-term prospects. Evidence of the volatility of the market is the fact that between 2004 and 2006 the number of independent game developers in the UK fell from 400 to just 150.
To protect itself against such dangers, Java has created four specialised and very different divisions:
Jay Games targets the older game-player, developing games with a more mature content;
Java Games, the firm’s core unit, creates family-friendly games;
Mind Games concentrates on serious and purposeful games, as used in such fields as public administration, defence and medicine, especially for scenario planning; and
Jinks Games constructs casual games of the kind typically made available through arcades.
Between them these four divisions provide a very broad base of work for the business, with a varied client base and different production cycles, in an effort to provide some degree of stability in the unstable competitive environment. What unites the four divisions is the desire to foster a culture of high employee involvement which doesn’t just allow creative freedom but actively encourages it, though so far the company has not addressed this desire as a matter of corporate policy; instead, it has relied informally on the leadership qualities of its managers and team leaders.
Although very successful, Java cannot afford to be complacent. It is operating in an industry which faces constant challenges not only because of technological change but also because of competition from abroad, unpredictable fluctuations in customer preferences, and acute skill shortages here in the UK. The only way to see off these challenges is to stay at least one step ahead of them, and Java believes that the defining strength and asset for its business is the quality of the people whom it employs, attracts, retains and develops.
The company has now reached a defining moment when it has had to make some crucial decisions about its strategies and its people policies. One of the industry’s major games console manufacturers recently approached Java with proposals for a long-term strategic alliance which would enable Java to double in size over the next two years. Although attractive, the proposal had some negative implications which when considered, lead the company to choose not to take this direction. The company has therefore decided to remain independent and specialise as a niche player, as it currently is. You have been brought in as an expert advisor to discuss the implications of this decision and make recommendations for effective Human Resource policies and practices which will enable Java to guarantee its future.
At present, there is a small HR team which consists of a manager and administrator who report into the Finance Director. HR decisions tend to be lead by the Head of each division, with advice taken from the HR team. Job descriptions do exist but they are limited and there is little consistency across the divisions. There is a basic job evaluation scheme that is used to evaluate all roles, and there is a pay scale that is used across all the divisions. Bonuses are agreed and awarded, but there appears to be little consistency across the divisions or even within the divisions to demonstrate how these are awarded. Other than salaries there are no other reward tools in place.
During recent considerations about the strategic direction of the organisation, certain issues came to light. At present staff turnover is considered to be reasonably high. Exit interviews with those staff leaving has shown that the lack of transparency with business decisions, coupled with the basic benefits (i.e salary and bonus) has had an impact on staff commitment and some talented staff have left to work with competitors, which is a worry for the organisation. Until recently strategy has focussed on the growth of the business, but there is now a need to focus on the people issues.
Your task is to produce a report for Java’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in which you address the following.
1) Review a range of recruitment and selection techniques both traditional and innovative and make recommendations as to the strategies you propose that the organisation uses in future.
2) Review the current reward strategy and make proposals for its improvement.
3) Given that the organisation wishes to promote a high involvement culture recommend mechanisms to promote this.
4) Explain how you would ensure consistency and fairness throughout the organisation to avoid the issues previously mentioned, how would HR monitor this.
All four areas need to show that you have critically evaluated your recommendations and shown reasoned arguments for your decisions based on an analytical approach to the organisational needs. All your recommendations need to demonstrate an awareness of the realities of the business such as cost and resource implications. The CEO is not easily persuaded and will want to understand fully your reasoning and why your feel your decisions are the best choice for this organisation.
Your report should be between 2500-3000 words.