All companies know how it feels when a global emergency occurs - the world still has the memories of COVID-19 breaking into our lives and changing our established operation mode. We remember the time when we were worried about getting adapted to the changes caused by the pandemic and how scary that uncertainty was. We were switching to remote work, not knowing how to build and engage our teams remotely and how to provide a stable business operation. And as soon as we learned how to handle the covid-related challenges, HR teams in Ukraine faced another one - the challenge of war. In such conditions, priorities change quickly, and responses should be fast. How to work when employees face the risk of shellings, how to be ready for emergency actions to support specialists when you cannot influence the overall situation?

Today Room 8 Group, a global game development company with one of its locations in Ukraine, will share a unique experience of how they handled the worst emergency that has ever occurred in their lives.

We highlighted seven steps Room 8 Group focused on when the invasion occurred.

1. Ensuring the Physical Security of Specialists

Safety always comes first, and it was the primary thing we got to work on. In this context, HR plays the role of a grounding factor, which manifested when the company was organizing an emergency evacuation. We understood that other departments, who were also handling emergencies, needed to be taken care of as well - the key function of the HR team was to take care of all people and act as a coordinator too.

Many of our specialists lived in cities with a high risk of attacks. We investigated whether a safe evacuation was possible and what routes were possible to take. When these issues were settled, we started evacuating our people to safer places in Ukraine or abroad. We found a temporary shelter for specialists and their families in the Western region of Ukraine, organized transportation, and ensured that everyone could be accommodated. In addition to that, we arranged temporary shelters in Poland. For this, we promptly organized an Emergency Team to manage this challenging situation.

As of now, many of the company’s specialists have moved from Ukraine to other countries or safer regions, and they continue to work, showing remarkable results.

2. Ensuring continuous communication

Communication is everything, especially when we talk about crisis. First and foremost, it’s crucial to make sure that there’s no information vacuum whatsoever. People are going through stress and panic - they may overthink certain things, and this should be avoided. From the first hours of the war, the CEO spoke to the team about the situation and the action plan the company would follow. The team leads stayed in touch with their direct subordinates and reported their security status to the management. A sense of stable connection between the leads and their teams was very important. We also used several channels of communication in case one of them stopped functioning. It is better to over-communicate than under, particularly in emergencies.

It was also essential to communicate a clear position of the company towards the war. We did it on a general call, where the top management expressed the company’s position and answered all the questions.

3. Organize Team Leads and Project Managers

Team leads and project managers have played an important role in supporting our specialists. One of their essential tasks was daily tracking team members’ status. It was critical to make sure that every person was safe. The next step was to record the specialist’s location and the opportunity to work. A remarkable thing to mention is that our specialists showed maximum courage, willpower, and responsibility for their work and the assigned tasks. The efficiency of work on projects didn’t change much because the specialists found all possible ways to complete their tasks. People got very self-organized to support each other and the clients whose projects they developed.

“Safety always comes first, and it was the primary thing we got to work on.”

Today, the company organized a training course for middle and line managers. It develops practical skills for people management in war.

4. Psychological support

Our teams from Ukraine experienced a range of different feelings and emotions. It was important to provide a safe environment where people could talk about that. From the first days of the war, the company organized psychological support groups and individual consultations conducted by a corporate therapist. Later we upgraded our well-being program - we started cooperating with an external provider of psychological support services. Any member of the team from Ukraine and their family members can contact the hotline and get help from professional psychologists and coaches. We also post regular advice on maintaining psychological health and ways to deal with stress.

5. Ensuring stable operation of the company

Room 8 Group has a presence in the UK, the USA, Canada, Poland, Ukraine, and the head office in Cyprus. Since the spring of 2022, we have opened two more representative offices in Romania and Spain since the spring of 2022. The company’s headcount has grown by 30% since the beginning of the year and continues to grow.

When the war began, Room 8 Group communicated to the specialists that over the following months, it would not terminate contracts with those unable to perform their tasks for various reasons. We continued to pay remuneration, and our performance assessments and remuneration reviews took place as scheduled. In this way, people knew that they had job security. Everyone tried their best to normalize their work process. Our colleagues from other countries supported their mates by ensuring the stability and continuity of the task delivery process.

6. Support for those who joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine and were affected by the war

Work is important but not all our specialists are living for. The greatest specialists are formed not only by professional skills but also values and identities of people’s country. HR professionals should encourage people to fulfill themselves in different directions. And if they are called by the duty that the country imposes on its citizens, as a responsible member of the community, we must support it. And that’s what we did. Room 8 Group supports Ukrainians in the struggle for democratic values that are important to all of us. The specialists now defending Ukraine as part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were provided with a one-time financial aid, have their positions preserved, and the company is paying their monthly remuneration in full. We also developed policies to support our professionals and their families who were affected by hostilities.

7. Providing a value-based work environment

Over the past few months, the company has been running various volunteer campaigns, encouraging our specialists to support those in need. It means a lot to the team and unites people around our corporate and universal human values, such as Care and Teamwork. Besides, the company supports local volunteer communities in Ukraine that restore damaged educational institutions.

It is just a small list of the activities we are implementing, but it makes the specialists proud to work in a company that does not stand aside and supports people to the fullest.