At this blockbuster video game development studio, the HR teams strive to build highly motivated, skilled and successful teams aligned with the business strategy, preserving and developing its unique company culture.

With a bronze win for Excellence in Corporate Wellness at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, the team at Ubisoft emerged stronger amidst the pandemic to address mental wellness through Wellness@Ubi.

Jesse Vinet, Talent Experience Manager, Ubisoft Singapore shares how the organisation leverages on an integrated approach that covers all grounds of corporate wellness in this interview with Priya Veeriah.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

As a blockbuster video game development studio, Ubisoft Singapore is committed to enriching the lives of our players with original and memorable game experiences. That also includes striving to provide the best welfare and work experience for our own employees to do so

At our studio, our HR teams strive to build highly motivated, skilled and successful teams aligned with our business strategy, preserving and developing our unique company culture. Two notable programmes we have introduced include Wellness@Ubi, our corporate wellbeing programme and the Ubisoft Apprenticeship [C++]ampus.

Wellness@Ubi is a comprehensive plan that put employee welfare at its core, while the Ubisoft Apprenticeship [C++]ampus program is delivered in collaboration with DigiPen Institute Technology of Singapore to help fresh graduates and provide them with the appropriate hands-on industry experience.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

In 2019, we set out to improve our overall engagement and employee experience by focusing on employee wellness. Based on the feedback received, we realised that taking a holistic approach was essential to improving upon a healthy and balanced work culture.

Wellness@Ubi was born and it has been key to our strategy in retaining top talent.

This corporate wellbeing programme has been a continuously evolving staple and is aimed at promoting holistic wellness through a series of monthly themes, programmes, experiential learning sessions, challenges and more.

Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

There’s been a lot of hunger for wellness programmes at Ubisoft Singapore, and we’re fortunate to have had a smooth ride in driving our initiatives. For us, the biggest challenge was when COVID-19 disrupted our plans for the entire fiscal year; we had to re-strategise our roadmap and reconsider how things would be moving online.

Since the global pandemic hit, we’ve been on video calls more than ever. They do help us to stay connected, but they can also be draining and require much more focus than physical interactions, partly because it’s harder to read non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions on a virtual platform. While webinars have been one of our primary methods of engagement these days, it’s always important to stay mindful of fatigue and continuously brainstorm new ways in engaging our staff.

When Wellness@Ubi initially launched, our first topic was mental wellness. However, our existing employee assistance programme at the time did not provide enough confidentiality to team members who needed it. As such, we created UPLIFT to provide counselling, practical support, and at the same time deliver the promised level of privacy. With the advent of COVID-19 and the stress and anxiety that has come accompanied, the programme came at the right time to further support our employees’ wellness needs.

There’s been a multitude of ways in which we’ve experimented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been a learning experience for all of us as we’ve adapted to the new normal.

As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

At Ubisoft Singapore, we use OfficeVibe – an voluntary internal engagement tool to observe and measure several factors in the studio, including wellness.

Ever since we’ve began ramping up our wellness activities last September, we surpassed our KPI and raised our wellness score to its highest to date.

One of our favourite initiatives was our environmental wellness month where we organised a studio talk from Zero Waste SG, a local NGO and NPO to share their expertise and tips on recycling and reducing plastic waste. We also included a screening of WWF’s Our Planet: Our Business to tie it all together, and organised a beach clean-up at Pasir Ris Park where we collected over 40kg of trash with 45 studio volunteers and 3 of their children.

What are the biggest business drivers or game changers that have pushed you to constantly come up with new ideas and raise the bar for corporate wellness?

Making video games can be tough work, and maintaining the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of our teams pushes us to always cultivate new ideas – be it massage sessions during peak periods, food donation drives to promote feelings of gratitude, or trivia contests to stay in touch during the circuit breaker period.

Making video games also requires someone who knows what it’s like to have fun. It’s one of our core values – serious about fun – and many of the initiatives we take speak directly to that. It’s difficult to have fun doing what you love if you’re worried about troubles in your or your family’s lives. That means our employee assistance programme also provides support for our employees’ loved ones too.

Outside of Ubisoft Singapore, we know that our industry is notoriously competitive and that in order to attract and retain talent, it’s essential that any wellness initiative truly delivers. Encouraging and supporting employee wellness can’t be an afterthought as it affects our organisation’s success and forms an integral part of our culture.

By ensuring we look after our employees, we come to work knowing we really make a difference in enriching the lives of our own team members, and that we can help raise the bar for corporate wellness in our industry.

Photo / 123RF

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