Helen Walton on The <3 of Gamevy


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Gamevy is employee-owned and we’re focused – as our key purpose – on making our employees happy.

What’s that mean?

Profit! Employees are rarely happy when they have no money to pay their bills. So Gamevy is certainly very interested in making money which we can share out as dividends. This matters because almost all Gamevy employees take a very low salary – they expect to make the rest in dividends form ownership shares.

Lots of profit! Ownership happens in different amounts (some people join before others etc) but over time and over certain amounts, rewards are shared equally. That means if we ever hit massive success then everyone will share in it.  Although no one will ever be as rich as a Zuckerberg, we believe that we’ll all do better together than we would apart.

Security. It’s no get rich quick scheme. Instead, Gamevy employees think about what will grow the company (often sacrificing dividends now to reinvest in the company’s future) and what will help it survive in the long term. Employees want a career with Gamevy – existing employees who stay do best.

Choice. Gamevy invests 1% of the paybill on non work activities that employees think will encourage happiness. That could be a big night out, it might be health insurance or extra pension contributions. It might be a fancier coffee machine. The point is that the choice belongs to employees, not to the board or founders or whoever!

Autonomy. We have no bosses. Gamevy employees work on whatever they think is most valuable for the company – on the whole this means we collaborate and ask each other for help. But occasionally one of us is convinced that our crazy idea is right when everyone else thinks it’s rubbish – that’s OK. We have total freedom to go away and test it.

Freedom. We’re adults, not schoolchildren. We work when and where we want. That means individuals take the holiday and sick days they need and it’s not tracked. People choose whether to work from home (using the virtual office for collaboration) or in the office. Some people work permanently from another country. People flex the day to work for them – collecting and dropping off kids as they need to, taking time to see friends for lunch, and – of course – occasionally working long days, weekends and even holidays because they’re passionate about the company succeeding (see Profit!).

Openness. We think secrecy in organisations leads to a toxic lack of trust. We know what people earn and how much they own. We don’t use internal email, instead having open chats and flows that anyone can join or read. While some things – saying a comment upset you, medical details etc – might be private, we encourage people to talk openly afterwards as a kind of retrospective to encourage others to raise problems, conflicts or uncomfortable issues.

Dissent. We value dissent, not conformity. We like people to argue, to stand up for an individual belief and point out the flaws in an idea. No emperor’s new clothes for us, if we can avoid it. Since decisions can get made within the context of the job and resources and info can be accessed by anyone, there’s no need to win consent – you can just do it.

Authenticity. People believe different things, hold different political opinions and values – so Gamevy doesn’t ever enforce one group’s on our employees. We don’t give to charity in the company name, for example. That money belongs to our employees and it’s up to them to give if they want to, not lavish funds on some pet project to bolster the CEO’s ego. But we are our whole, moral selves in work as much as we are out of it. As people who care about equality and the world we’ll leave to our children, you’ll also find Gamevy a fairly environmental and ‘socially responsible’ company – all without any need for a corporate programme or directive.

And what’s the result?

Our employees are partners and owners. We all care about this business. We are committed to it – emotionally, intellectually and financially.

Oh – and our recruitment costs are absurdly low. Employees keep recommending the friends and ex-colleagues they really rate.

Helen Walton is a founder @Gamevy, a games studio bringing TV gameshows online. They also run Spark the Change – devoted to building better businesses and happier workplaces, whether through employee ownership, different management structures, social purpose or greater creativity and freedom. Spark the Change is in London 1-2 July, 2 days of talks, case studies and practical workshops on making lasting change. http://www.sparkthechange.co.uk/ Follow them on twitter @SparkConf

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