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Wizards of the Coast Employee Reviews about "work environment"

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  1. Helpful (20)

    "If you value your sanity you will not want to work on Magic"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    The people. That's about it.

    Cons

    Over the last year there has been immense pressure from the executive leadership to churn out more and more products, marketing efforts, events, you name it and very little has been done to keep headcount at pace with the requests. Our people are exhausted constantly and overall life at work has become miserable for most. If it weren't for the great people we work with helping to keep morale up our attrition rates would be much higher than they currently are. Ever since Chris has become president there has been this lip service talking point from him, and other executive leaders, about how they want to make Wizards one of the "greatest places to work" companies in the Seattle region, however, they are going about it in the most naive way imaginable. Here's a tip to Wizards leadership: free soda, new furniture, and the occasional food truck is never going to get you on that list. You get on that list by fostering a work environment that doesn't make your employees dread going in to work because of the inevitable pain they are going to feel each day trying to deliver your insane requests. Stop making one person do the work load of an entire team. Stop ignoring your people when nearly every employee survey comes back negative. Stop telling us that the budget doesn't allow for additional headcount and then dump another new project on us and tell us to "be more flexible". But who knows, maybe the 30+ people you just let go will open up some of that budget? Probably not, but here's to hoping.

    We have lost all breathing room in our day to day. We used to be able to get in a game of Magic on the regular, you know, celebrate the IP that we love so much, but now you rarely see anybody playing games around the office anymore. The sentiment now is that if you're seen playing a game by certain people your job is in jeopardy, or your work load can handle a few more requests. It's really quite sad. The best example of this was today; Halloween. In years past Halloween has been a sacred day at WotC where every floor goes all out to make the most impressive experience they can think of and it was glorious. This year was pathetic all around because half the building couldn't afford to spend half a day having a fun festive time which has been tradition for years. Now, some exec may be reading this and thinking "the business needs vastly outweigh something like Halloween!" and from a business perspective you're right, but to us little people it's a huge part of what used to make Wizards a great place to work and now you've killed it. If nothing changes you are never going to make that list.

    Advice to Management

    Either slow down on the requests, or invest in your teams and hire more people. Give us the time to make truly great products and regain some of our sanity. Chris, go back to trying to connect with your employees and listen to them. Your ideas and intuitions are not always the right way to go.


  2. "Digital Games Division; Great Community"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast as an intern

    Pros

    Casual and friendly work environment.
    Many opportunities to learn.
    Tons of free product.
    Coworkers are passionate about what they are doing.

    Cons

    DGD is a very young branch of the company, and at times it can feel like it is still laying the foundation/ trying to make a name for itself.
    Non compete is quite strict, even for the area.

    Advice to Management

    Encourage employees to innovate and experiment.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Reinventing Itself"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Human Resources in Renton, WA
    Current Employee - Human Resources in Renton, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexible, casual work environment
    Smart people who are genuinely sincere and kind
    Employees LOVE the brands they work on

    Cons

    Office in Renton
    Some employees are averse to change

    Advice to Management

    Stronger internal communications
    More investment in people manager capability


  4. Helpful (7)

    "Coming so close..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The diversity and the people are great, as are the products and their customers. They have a great print product and an improving digital one. Lot's of possibilities for their loyal customers. Great daily work environment.

    Cons

    Pay isn't always in line with market rates. Planning doesn't happen. Decisions are made too quickly if at all. If you are someone who understands basic business requirements and has any financial acumen, it is quickly apparent that they don't.

    Advice to Management

    Show up. New CEO has been non-existent. Relying on the same leadership cadre that created so many problems with budgeting, measurements, programs, lack of process, etc. to fix the problems is an exercise in futility. Learn to create and read a chart: data abounds and yet nobody with the ability to make decisions based on it seems to realize it, tap into it, or have the ability or knowledge to use it to that end. You have people in place that actually know what they are doing, try listening to them.


  5. Helpful (14)

    "A poisonous organization built on a dying brand."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Reasonable work life balance.
    Reasonable ergonomic consults.
    Some talented individuals working in specific channels.
    On-site gym with personal trainers available for consults at a small discount.

    Cons

    Sub-standard compensation.
    Poisonous work environment.

    The wild financial success of Magic has allowed Wizards to become complacent in every department, and that's lead to a stagnation at the director level and above. Rather than rewarding success, Wizards rewards the obsequious, the ruthlessly political, and those willing to obfuscate real, practical status to placate the management class. It's only due to Magic's profitability that an organization so unhealthy is able to survive, and it's shocking how failure at the director level is continuously rewarded.

    Advice to Management

    Slim down, in particular in those departments that have become rife with the directors whose success is solely contingent on their ability to manage upward, rather than down.


  6. Helpful (6)

    "A mixed bag"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Game Designer in Renton, WA
    Former Employee - Game Designer in Renton, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Some really great people. Magic is a great game. If you mostly care about your work environment and the people you spend time with, and you're satisfied with just doing your job day-to-day, this can be a good place.

    Cons

    Very lacking in digital progress, and slow to change old systems. If what you mostly care about is making an impact and seeing improvement over time, focusing on the big picture, this is probably not a good place for you.

    Advice to Management

    Hire people into positions with experience from other game companies. You're too inbred. The old-guard ex-pro-tour-competitors are smart people, but they need to learn from the experience of the game industry. If they're not going to leave and find that experience themselves, you've got to hire people that bring that experience with them, and you need to put them in positions where they have the power to enact change. Change requires change, and as a company you're far too resistant to it, so the industry is lapping you.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Good and getting better"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    Have been at Wizards for some time and have seen significant improvement in the culture and work environment in the past year. There is clearly a concentrated effort by senior management to improve those areas, while also focusing on the mission and values as well as physical space. Wizards has long been a good place to work, realizing many of the benefits of a stand alone company with the additional benefits of being a part of Hasbro.

    Additionally, Wizards has been on an upswing for some time and being a part of an organization that is doing very well makes day to day work that much more enjoyable.

    Cons

    While Wizards has had a concentrated effort in improving in certain areas in the past year, there are other areas which could still use improvement. While 401k, vacation and employee play product are exceptional, health benefits - a major component of any comp package - are lacking.

    The location of the office (Renton) is also a detriment to many, though the reverse commute somewhat makes up for that.

    Advice to Management

    Continue on the path you are on, the changes are noticeable. Keep the emphasis on improving speed in decision making and keeping bureaucracy to a minimum.

  8. Helpful (10)

    "Proof that great games can be created despite embarassing management."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Wizards of the Coast full-time

    Pros

    Everyone at Wizards eventually gets the opportunity to help Magic and D&D grow (though you will not likely be credited for your efforts). There are occasional game nights, employee prereleases, and you get free product for both brands.

    A play area recently opened up on the first floor, and it's nicely decorated, giving people a cool place to hang out without having to hijack empty meeting rooms. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and almost all of the employees are very friendly.

    Wizards is great at a few things when it comes to making physical games. A few departments such as R&D, creative, and art teams have their process down extremely well. If it weren't for these departments performing adequately, creating fun and beautiful games, and sincerely caring about the enjoyment of the product, the entire company would be in horrible shape.

    Cons

    *** Compensation ***

    Salary is well below industry standards. Benefits are ridiculously poor, to the point where most employees take the bare minimum while cringing and complaining at the huge expense (nothing is done to address this).

    *** Management ***

    Extremely conservative company with rigid and inefficient infrastructure. Zero career pathing for employees. Advancement very rare, most jobs turn into dead end grinds. Many managers in key areas have found themselves in positions they are unqualified to perform, but fly under the radar because work generally goes unchecked as long as the company continues to make money. The company avoids change and risk (change and risk are basically the same thing for WotC) at all costs for fear of disrupting the Magic: The Gathering profit machine.

    *** Communication and meetings ***

    Internal communication within the company is embarrassingly poor. More e-mails are sent regarding team lunches and last minute emergencies than all project planning and progress report e-mails combined.

    Instead of properly utilizing e-mail, there's a strong meeting culture within most departments where managers hop from meeting to meeting every hour of the day, every day of the week. This is viewed as very productive work time in the eyes of upper management. Weekly held two-hour meetings are common. Nobody in the building has training on how to actually run a meeting, so they are almost always unstructured and overly conversational.

    If a decision within a meeting is somehow reached, it's because time is up and the continuation of a project depends on it. Because of the lack of communication, unpleasant surprises are a regular occurrence which are happily solved with even more meetings.

    Often times, an event or project will go poorly, but will be presented in post as a moderate success in order to save face in front of executive management. The company has no idea how to rate the success of its own projects unless they are sales related.

    If a failure is somehow spotted by executive management, there's usually a lot of buck passing until managing staff are no longer to blame and the problem is forgotten about. With a constant flow of products and game updates, the next big freak out is only days away and very little time is allowed for any real managerial upkeep.

    *** Work environment ***

    While the lobby is nicely decorated, the look and feel of the office space remains dingy. The carpets are old and stained. The only free snacks are terrible Seattle's Best drip coffee and microwave popcorn. Office furniture is years old and is never replaced, only shuffled around from cube to cube. The technology side is even worse.

    *** Digital ***

    Any Magic Online player or frequent website visitor can tell you Wizards is horrible at anything and everything digital. Internally they refer to themselves as a modern digital company, but they then pay programmers next to nothing and expect long work hours when something breaks. They insist on doing nearly all digital development in-house under these circumstances, dumping the occasional money injection into specific areas (not salary raises) that are in critical condition. Sort of like an old dying car that costs hundreds of dollars to repair every few months just to keep the wheels turning.

    *** Employee morale ***

    There are a few great teams which are a joy to witness. These are the teams that make Magic and D&D the awesome experiences they are. These products succeed despite the terrible planning, marketing, and communication efforts performed by the rest of the company. Thankfully the playerbase is much better at promoting the game than Wizards is.

    Upper management caught wind of the low morale roughly two years ago, recognizing that people were unhappy with management practices and low recognition and celebration of their work. An entire year later, after many more quit, they actually decided to do something about it. No, they didn't increase pay or benefits, and no they didn't introduce any training for their team members that could improve their management skills. Instead, they formed multiple internal committees to address specific areas of improvement. This was a very modern concept for Wizards, and was well received because it was the first time upper management seemed to care about their unhappy employees. Unfortunately these committees really only added up to more meetings made up of, you guessed it, mostly middle and upper management.

    After a year of these meetings, work was the same as ever with only a few superficial reports of progress gleaned from their efforts. Most employees now realize that the committees themselves were only a weak attempt to appear concerned with the morale problem.

    Advice to Management

    Stop filling your day with meetings and stop letting those you manage do the same. The meeting culture is destroying the productivity of several teams. Try actually speaking to an employee that's more than one level below you. Book the occasional one-on-one with them and actually find out if your subordinate managers are doing what they're supposed to be doing when you aren't looking. You'll be surprised to find that the person you are managing poorly is also managing their team poorly.

    Stop celebrating and congratulating managers who deliver sub-par work that is weeks (sometimes months) behind deadline.

    If you really care about the happiness of your employees and the success of your brand, loosen up and stop being so controlling over it. Make your employees remember why they chose Wizards of the Coast in the first place, and let them have some fun experimenting in their own space. Do this because it will make them happy, not because it will make you look good. Take your team out to lunch more than once a year and stop waiting until Halloween to have a fun office event.

    Take a look at projects with a yearly occurrence, and question why they are still happening. Stop pouring thousands into annual efforts that only exist because someone decided they were a good idea 5 years ago.

    Either stop being stingy with pay checks or stop being stingy with product. The current system is better than it used to be, but there's no reason to treat Magic cards like gold. You make millions of them a year, yet most employees have a hard time constructing a Modern deck. Considering how far the free product goes towards making up for the company's shortcomings, events centered around employee happiness (like Employee Appreciation Week) are less exciting than ever.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "A Great Company To Work For But Advancement Challenging"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great work environment, competitive salary, has very nice perks

    Cons

    Very hard to advance from one position to the next. Once you are in a particular role, you may need to leave the company to try new opportunities.

    Advice to Management

    Making job shadowing a supported program would help. I don't mean recognize that it is possible but to create baselines for it and track it across the enterprise.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Great staff, Marquis products, Worth the experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Wizards has a phenomenal work environment. The company is vested in doing what's right for the products short & long term.

    Cons

    Risk Adverse
    Slow

    Not much else, except maybe for below average comp.


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