Annie Bourque | Journalist
Frima, a Quebec-based video game design company with 350 employees, has developed a unique employee-recognition strategy. Founded in 2003, the company was finding it hard to compete with the salaries offered by multinationals like Ubisoft. So it decided to focus on employee benefits and working conditions instead.
That’s reflected in the office design. Over 150 employees submitted suggestions to senior management. Finally, inspired by the offices of Facebook and Google, architects redesigned some of the spaces. “We don’t always take the elevator here; we also get around on toboggan,” says Normand enthusiastically, pointing to a sort of huge tunnel connecting the two floors. “People love it, and it saves them time.”
A culture of ideas
Employee motivation is key. So how to keep them engaged? By creating a system of points that can be cashed in and used to buy all sorts of things.
“In our field, someone often throws out a great idea that relaunches a project that was temporarily put on hold,” says Gabrielle Pilote.
And those ideas get rewarded! “We might award them 50 or 75 points that they can cash in and use towards outdoor excursions, restaurant meals, hotel accommodations and even shows.”
Many of the company’s travel enthusiasts cash in their points for plane tickets overseas.
Launching their own video game
Many of the company’s employees dream of one day developing their own video game and gaining global recognition. And the company encourages it through their Frimagination program. “If someone wants to submit an idea for a video game, we have a team to assess it,” says Normand.
And they do it Dragons’ Den-style. “If we like their idea, we let them work on it every Friday during work hours.”
A 33-year old Frima programmer was thrilled to see his game idea selected and released to great fanfare in 2014.
Video game designers are entitled to receive future royalties from video game sales. While it’s nice to dream about earning millions of dollars, what really matters to them is seeing their aspirations come true—priceless.
Fresh fruit every morning
Every morning for the past 6 years, Frima managers have been serving employees fruit. Different kinds of breakfast are sometimes served as well, including cereal tastings and chocolate fondues.
Eating together builds stronger rapport in this diverse team of employees—11 nationalities and 8 different languages!