Case Study: EA

Aligning Total Rewards with Ongoing Performance Management

Building the EA of the Future

Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts (EA) is a leading developer and publisher of video games including the well-known franchises Madden NFL and The Sims. In addition to constantly evolving to accommodate changes in technology and customer preferences, the company has rapidly grown through acquisitions. By 2014, it had become clear that EA needed to start expanding their organizational capabilities and changing their culture in the process—and align it with their performance management program to attract fresh talent and motivate future growth. For Dalana Brand, VP Total Rewards, that meant redesigning their total rewards approach to align with the new process focused on collaboration and transparency. EA’s previous approach to total rewards was driven by prescriptive recommendations from employee performance ratings.

Framing the Change

The goal was to strip away what wasn’t working, such as the distractions of ratings, and move the workforce toward a more informal, team-oriented process that centered around ongoing career conversations. EA knew that because the company’s workforce is filled with software engineers—people who tend to love structure and systems—it would be a challenge to earn immediate buy-in to a restructured performance management process. Beyond these changes to culture and process, EA needed to equip managers to make smarter decisions about rewarding performance in a qualitative model. This relationship-centric model relied on managers having a clear understanding of the philosophy, pay programs and guidelines. With these first steps, EA could cultivate the organizational capabilities required to take the company into the future.
To ensure they connected the dots for every stakeholder, EA implemented a multi-pronged communications approach starting with GuideSpark’s Talent Solution. A series of videos were created and shared with managers to establish a context for their new Managing for Results (MFR) performance management and total rewards program. Three distinct modules explained the fundamentals of the compensation program—Base, Bonus, and Equity—and taught managers about their philosophy and principles. This content prepared managers to be taken through facilitated, in-person sessions that would provide practical, real-time application of their new skills. 

Empowering Managers & Establishing Accountability

Brand found that without the ratings system to drive decisions, managers and their teams were challenged with having more frequent conversations about performance and pay. This required EA’s HR team to provide more ongoing coaching to managers on how to set goals, provide and receive employee feedback, and have performance conversations that connect pay decisions to the company’s pay philosophy.  As a result, managers have been observed making great progress. Not only are they having more meaningful interactions with employees, but employees have been sharing their positive experiences with the HR team—and it all points to promising results moving forward.

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