As you can imagine, we talk about EVPs a lot on the Employer Branding Podcast. It’s a distillation of what makes your organization a good fit for potential hires. A shorthand way of saying, “these are my people.”
But what if your organization comprises several business units that each do things in their own unique way? How do you make sure that the right talent ends up in the right place?
In this episode, we talk about just that and much more with Alex Horner, the Global Head of Talent Attraction at Activision Blizzard. He sat down to discuss how they manage three separate brands for three unique game studios: King, Blizzard Entertainment, and Activision.
Making video games is equal parts art and engineering. You need game designers to figure out what you’re making, artists and animators to bring the world to life, writers to craft a plot and flesh out the story, engineers to actually write the code, and much, much more.
“There are so many incredibly niche roles and skillsets needed to make games,” Horner says, “and we need to articulate why someone with such an in-demand skillset might want to join us and what the benefit they would get from coming here might be.”
Like in any other creative field, in video games, what you’re making is just as important as how you make it. In fact, the two are often tied together. Each of the three game studios that comprise Activision Blizzard is known for very different things. That’s why, for Horner and his team, the best way to attract the right talent to the right team is to articulate three distinct EVPs for each of the three business units.
So what are these three game studios like, and what are their EVPs?
Activision is probably best known for developing blockbusters, like the first-person shooter Call of Duty. Talent that wants to work at Activision wants to work on projects at the bleeding edge of technology for the largest audience possible. For Horner and his team, that’s all summed up in the EVP, “great games start with great people.”
Blizzard Entertainment, on the other hand, has a reputation for creating genre-defining titles centered around fantasy and immersion, each with its own distinct art style and setting. There’s the fantasy MMO, World of Warcraft, the gothic horror ARPG, Diablo, and Overwatch, a futuristic team-based shooter. Their EVP? “Entertain the universe.”
Finally, there’s King, whose EVP is “make the world playful.” As the developer of the mobile puzzle game Candy Crush, they’re all about inclusivity and making games for people who might not think of themselves as “gamers.”
Each of these studios creates wildly different games, so it’s important to Horner and his team that their employer brands are distinct in order to attract the right talent.
Activating three EVPs is no small task, and Horner points to Activision Blizzard’s employee advocacy initiative as a crucial strategy to help them strike a balance. “We really wanted to put our people at the heart of the storytelling and to have them tell the story on our behalf,” Horner says. They identify employees who are a good fit and take them through a structured learning and development program to help them build their personal brand.
If you’ve had any experience with these kinds of programs, you’ll know that the results can often be a mixed bag. That’s why Horner focused on finding employees that are already active on LinkedIn. “We were looking for people already starting to do some of the work themselves,” he says.
The results speak for themselves. With 55 people in the program, they collectively have 500,000 followers on LinkedIn and generate 2-4 million impressions on a monthly basis. The conversation is focused on what they’re working on, which naturally leads to differentiation between the different game studios and roles.
While developing and managing three distinct EVPs and brands can get complicated, it works for Activision Blizzard to help them recruit talent with niche skillsets in an extremely competitive industry.
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