Employee Retention is Topical Issue

The Nordic Game Exec Summit 2021 took place on Tuesday, 2nd of November in Malmö, Sweden. The Exec Summit is annual gathering that takes place the day before Nordic Game conference begins. Participants of the Exec Summit are people in executive roles in the game industry. The event has long history, it will celebrate its 20th birthday in 2024. (Nordic Game Resources AB 2021.)

group photo with approximately 35 people
Image 1. The Nordic Game Exec Summit 2021 participants. (Picture: Vidya Ernstsson Robertson)

Themes of the Summit

The Summit was organized in three different parts. First, general topics and talks were presented. The second two were tied to the ongoing COVID-19 and challenges that game companies have faced during that time:

  1. Teams & Production
  2. Employer branding
  3. Talent acquisition
  4. Work/life balance
  5. Diversity

These topics were examined in two ways: first, what problems and complications have been occurred under these themes. Secondly, what has been learned by solving the problems and how they have made companies stronger.

Employee retention in the game industry

One of the most talked about subject during the event was employee retention. This is tied to, one way or another, to all the previously mentioned five themes of the Summit. Game industry is not alone with this challenge. According to McKinsey (De Smet et al. 2021) research, this is a challenge that many other industries globally face as well. Hospitality industry seems to be most at risk of losing employees, 47 % of the workers is planning this. Also, considerably part of the production workers (43 %), white-collar workers (41 %), healthcare workers (36 %) and educators (32 %) plan to leave their current work within the next three to six months. Overall, 40 % of the survey responders are at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs in the near future (Image 2). (De Smet et al. 2021)

[Picture with one hundred small human figures. Forty figures are painted blue. Text: Forty per cent of the employees in McKinsey survey said they are at least somewhat likely to quit in the next three to six months. Somewhat likely 22%, Likely 9%, Very likely 5%, Almost certainly 4%.]
Image 2. Only 60 % of employees are not considering leaving their jobs. (De Smet et al. 2021)

Employee retention strategies aim to keep talents in-house and minimize the employee turnover. Usually, 90 percentage retention goal is seen as a good result. (The Great Game of Business 2021.) According to McKinsey results (De Smet et al. 2021),the top reasons employees leave are:

  • Not feeling valued by their organizations (54 %)
  • Not feeling valued by their managers (52 %)
  • Not feeling a sense of belonging at work (51 %)

These are the same reasons people are leaving companies in the game industry. Executives working in the field consistently mention that the management style has had to change rapidly during the pandemic. Values of employees have also changed, as have their expectations for the companies. Culture that has worked as a clue previously has taken a hit during the remote work period, and people are not feeling the same type of belonging as before.

Surprising factor that did not come up at the Exec Summit, but is obvious in McKinsey study, is that employees are willing to quit their current job without a new one lined up. 36 % of people who have recently quit their job didn’t have new one waiting for them and 64 % of people planning to quit say they are ready to leave without a new job lining up. This can be seen as a sign of how difficult past years have been on employees, and also as an indicator that the situation is serious. (De Smet et al. 2021.)


Ria Gynther works as a RDI Specialist at the LAB University of Applied Sciences, more specifically in the Baltic Explorers game industry project. She is also the Vice Chair of IGDA Finland


De Smet, A., Dowling, B., Mugayar-Baldocchi, M. & Schaninger, B. 2021. ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours. McKinsey Quarterly. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/great-attrition-or-great-attraction-the-choice-is-yours

The Great Game of Business. 2021. Retaining Great Employees. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.greatgame.com/the-fundamentals/employee-retention

Nordic Game Resources AB. 2021. NG21 Exec Summit: Join us! [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://nordicgame.com/join-the-nordic-game-exec-summit/


Link 1. Nordic Game Resources AB. 2021. Nordic Game. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://nordicgame.com/  

Link 2. Baltic Explorers. 2020. About us. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://balticexplorers.eu/

Link 3. IGDA Finland. 2021. About us. [Cited 15 Nov 2021]. Available at: https://www.igda.fi/about-us