Nov 07, 2022

This topic is everyone's concern, not just HR!


The animation industry is thriving! The demand for fresh content is immense! This is a blessing that comes with its counterpart of challenges. Namely, talent attraction and retention. With our shift to working from home (WFO), the competition for talent is no longer local; it became global! 

First of all, let me reframe something: we attract talents but retain people. The relationship with talent is quite transactional; we compensate for the value of the provided talent or experience. Yet, “talent” is the fruit provided by a person. If the person feels well taken care of, their talent will flourish. If they don’t, they’ll wither and leave. Yes, this distinction is philosophical, but it is an important reframing of our thought process. 

My point is to emphasize the responsibility of studio owners and leaders to start making people a priority. This is not a concern for more money or compensation. This is about creating intentional strategies for a healthy culture that will attract the “right” people and will encourage them to stay!


“We cannot force our people to stay, but we can make it very easy for them to come IN and come BACK!”




First of all, putting “work” first makes the work/life balance concept wrong. Integrating work into life is the new objective! And to fully integrate work into life, we must hear what people need to have a fulfilling life.

The last few years have revealed how much our work situation and location used to bend our lifestyle. Clearly, people are not bound to live where work is located anymore. As we all transitioned to working from home, people realized how much control they suddenly had over their lifestyle. This collective shift is here to stay. Employers have to embrace it.


“9 of 10 remote workers want to maintain remote work to some degree.”

Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent (


But how can one employer provide for its hundreds of individual employees' specific and unique needs? 




Forget the ping pong tables and pinball machines. An attractive culture will be defined by your values, behaviors, and character. In other words: what you believe in, what you do, and how you act. Studio leaders and owners must implement thoughtful strategies to create the culture best fitted to their values and to support the needs of the people they wish to attract and keep.


"Over the next 10 years, the studios winning the talent race will be the ones who prioritize the well-being of the people in their team."


We can identify 2 values that should be the keystone of any human-centric culture.

  1. Nurture psychological safety
  2. Encourage growth




We have entered a new and exciting era. The young generations are more self-aware than any generation preceding them! It is clear that all old corporate molds have been shattered, individuality, diversity, and inclusion are now must-haves!

We live in a time where everyone can be who they want, which is non-negotiable.

As such, a culture focused on diversity and inclusion cannot be made possible without psychological safety.

People will stay if they feel:

  • Heard.
  • Supported.
  • Free.
  • They can be themselves.
  • They have space to grow.
  • That they can make mistakes.
  • They have FUN!


"Mental and psychological safety cannot be afterthoughts."




In her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck lays out the foundation of how our mindset plays a critical role in our individual development and motivation.

Throughout her studies, Dr. Dweck discovered we all display two types of mindset, a FIXED MINDSET  “I am who I am, I know what I know” and a GROWTH MINDSET  “ I can become who I want and learn anything."

Only through the adoption of a growth mindset can studios stand out in the competitive talent market. A growth mindset is fundamental in putting in place concrete actions driven at attending to the growth, motivation, and well-being of the team! 

A studio adopting a growth mindset will be more open to moving past the status quo and be willing to take the necessary action for change.

In a growth-mindset-focused environment we will:

  • Encourage training
  • See mistakes as part of learning
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Create a space of openness where displaying vulnerability is encouraged

Without a growth mindset, none of the fundamental actions for creating a psychologically safe environment are possible, and vice versa. A growth mindset and psychological safety are interdependent!


"Investing in your people shows how you care for them and will make them feel valued – and instant motivation and productivity boost!"




At The Happy Producers, we know first-hand how learning new skills requires time and dedication. Creating a healthier studio culture is not a one-off event, it is a constant practice that has to be built into the regular rhythm of a studio’s heartbeat.

So many resources are available for any corporation willing to learn how to make the first steps. Coaches, consultants, training, and workshops are concrete steps any studio can take today to position itself as the most attractive option for anyone looking for their next long-term professional engagement.

Here is a list of possible actions the studio can take today to start creating a healthy and attractive culture:

  • Psychological safety measures
    • Create anti-bullying and harassment policies
    • Consoling group
    • Open door policies
  • Create a structured policy around meetings ethics, for example:
    • Monday morning and Friday afternoon are no-meeting zone.
    • Every other day, meeting times start at 9:30 am and end at 4 pm.
    • No meetings during lunchtime
    • Etc.
  • Hold regular team-building exercises.
    • Games
    • Group workout with a hired instructor
    • Happy hours
  • Regularly survey the team to get the pulse of what they need and how they feel.
  • Schedule regular one-on-one meetings between the leader and their subordinates
  • Encourage growth
    • Dedicate budgets and time for regular training
  • Creating trust-based, flexible work policies:
    • Flexibles hours:
      • Life happens, doctors appointments, groceries, kids…
    • Flexible locations:
      • People want to work where they want –return to their hometown or the beach in Costa Rica!
    • Trust-based relationship:
      • We cannot monitor if everyone works their full 8 hours daily. It may be time to change the model and distribute the workload weekly instead of focusing on a time-for-service model. Who cares how many hours someone worked if all their work is completed on time?




What will make studios stand out will be the intentionality with which they will make building an attractive culture a priority. Employers no longer have a top-down relationship with talent; people have more leverage when choosing their next employer. 

So studio owners, hear me out when I say:

Be intentional.

Show you care.

Understand what people want – and give it to them!

And if you need help figuring things out, you know where to find us.

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