CHRO and CIO's Modern Mission: Creating a Differentiated Employee Experience in a Technology-Powered World

Jason Horwath, Chief Information Officer, Electronic Arts (EA) and Mala Singh, Chief People Officer, Electronic Arts (EA)
Jason Horwath, Chief Information Officer, Electronic Arts (EA)

Jason Horwath, Chief Information Officer, Electronic Arts (EA)

At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play. We create games that bring the most exciting, enjoyable experiences to our hundreds of millions of players around the world. In a word, we are in the business of “fun.” But delivering “fun” isn’t all fun and games. From game developers to engineers, to marketers and technologists, our teams around the world need to work together seamlessly to ensure the magic of the game experience comes alive. That’s why we hold deeply the belief that our use of technology inside the company can create a differentiated employee experience -- a charter that Information Technology and Human Resources must jointly share.

As we fight for top talent in today’s competitive landscape, especially as technology advancements raise expectations and open doors for more opportunities to accelerate innovation, delivering a thoughtful employee experience is a must. In working hand-in-hand as the Chief Information Officer and the Chief People Officer, we’ve built a strong employee value proposition at EA, and have learned some invaluable lessons along the way.Mala Singh, Chief People Officer, Electronic Arts (EA)

Partnering In The Pursuit Of “Power Made Easy”

The partnership between IT and HR anchors on one simple question: what would it take for employees to do the best work of their lives at EA? While this means arming our employees with powerful software and developer tools, it also requires looking closely at the technology used in every way employee’s daily experience.   Think about how many times each day an employee has to respond to an email? Access secure and sensitive material? Hold a meeting with someone across the world? While our teams’ central focus will always and appropriately be the games we deliver to our players, these are moments that can shape the overall employee experience. We work to ensure that the technologies our teams deploy to optimize collaboration and productivity - and serve our employees by minimizing friction and frustration.  Together we’ve worked on simplifying identity and authentication, reimagining how collaboration and productivity tools can work together, and building new applications to power the interview experience for candidates coming to EA.  Our shared goal is to deliver powerful and well-integrated experiences to our employees that excel in ease of use - Power Made Easy.  Having a deep focus on reducing daily friction in the workplace helps our employees to focus on doing great work - like designing the games of the future, executing an international marketing campaign, or interacting with our global player community.

First Impressions Matter

The technology experience isn’t just for when an employee starts at EA. From the very first moment in which a prospective employee considers pursuing a career here, technology becomes one of the defining factors of their candidate experience. Technology, in many ways, is at the frontline of establishing a strong impression for the entire company as an employer brand. That’s why in 2017, IT and HR worked together to create a custom candidate experience application that guides a prospective EA employee through the interviewing process, getting to know new potential teammates through their profiles on the app, and getting a feel for our culture.  

 ​ We live in a fast-paced era, where technology will continue to change the way we work – introducing us to more intuitive, collaborative, and effective ways to be impactful  

Applying a Product Mentality

We treat our employees’ experience with the same focus and importance as we do our players. Our teams aim to deliver easy to use tools with intuitive user interfaces that bolster productivity. If employees are experiencing friction or challenge to do their work, that isn’t a good situation. It is our job to ensure that the most effective technologies are deployed to allow our global workforce to do the best work of their lives here, and we take it seriously. So in 2017, we invested in building a dedicated employee experience team within Information Technology with an internal UX team, brand designers, and launch change-management strategists. Whether we are building a tool from scratch, or working to integrate third-party tools, each technology solution is meticulously considered and tested to ensure that we are getting it right for our employees.

Making decisions that bolster the culture

Technology choices drive culture. In addition to functionality, core dimensions of the talent strategy should inform these decisions as they will evolve your culture. That is a significant opportunity and responsibility for talent and technology leaders. At EA, we aspire to greater collaboration, transparency, and building communities, rooted in a strong belief that diverse and global teams serve as force multipliers.  As such, the adoption of good collaboration technologies has been a major priority for us. Tools such as Slack have become an incredible way for individuals around the world at every level to come together in an open forum to discuss important issues and topics to our company. As so much of our work is transcending business unit and geographic boundaries, this approach has helped our company approach our work as “one team.”

We live in a fast-paced era, where technology will continue to change the way we work – introducing us to more intuitive, collaborative, and effective ways to be impactful. We can be certain that the partnership between a CHRO and CIO will become even more deeply intertwined and strategic. Having a thoughtful and shared approach to technology-powered employee experiences will serve as a strong differentiator to an employer brand.

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