Maze Theory boosts performance, wellbeing with Appraisd

Maze Theory is a scale-up in the entertainment sector founded in 2018. It produces games combining excellent storytelling with improvisation, theatrics and characterisation. Maze Theory has released several games based on the long-running TV programme Dr Who and they are currently working on a new Peaky Blinders project.

Maze theory appraisals process supporting employee wellbeing
of reviews completed in January 2022
employees had a minimum of 1 wellbeing check-in, between December 2021 and February 2022
business goals and 104 development goals set

Nicola Howes joined Maze Theory in March 2021 as Business Operations Manager. She is the main administrator for Appraisd, and one of her responsibilities is to ensure employees understand the value of their performance management process and engage as fully as possible with it.

The challenge: Embracing employee performance management whilst working remotely

Maze Theory is a business that is growing rapidly. They are keen to retain their positive and supportive culture as the number of employees increases. They want to make sure everyone feels included and valued, all playing a vital role in contributing to the overall success of the business.

Like many other organisations, their working practices were changed by the Covid-19 pandemic and employees became remote workers. The business has adapted successfully to this, and many employees will continue to work from home most of the time even though restrictions have been lifted. 

Embracing remote working has allowed Maze Theory, a London-based business to look further afield for the best talent and has employed people from as far away as Cornwall and Sheffield over the past two years. While there are many benefits to remote working, they are keen to ensure that employees don’t feel isolated and out of step with the overall goals, culture and ethos of the business.

Supporting good employee wellbeing is a priority for Maze Theory. Senior leaders understand the strain that many people have been under over the last two years and want to do all they can to ensure their employees feel positive, engaged and appreciated.

The solution: A formalised approach to keep employees connected

There was a realisation amongst the senior managers within Maze Theory that they needed a more formalised approach to emplotee performance management to keep employees connected, focused and aligned. Their Finance Director had used Appraisd in a previous role and recommended it to Maze Theory. When Nicola arrived, the system was in place, but it was her role to develop an approach that met the organisation’s needs.

After trialling various intervals of review, the organisation settled on quarterly reviews supported by monthly wellbeing check-ins. The reviews are in-depth conversations between managers and employees discussing progress against objectives and any development or training needs. The wellbeing check-ins are short catch-ups, concentrating on how employees are feeling.

Quarterly reviews to keep employees focused and aligned

These regular reviews give senior leaders a clear picture of how employees are performing and highlight any skills gaps within the workforce. They also help employees to plan their career progression, setting expectations about what is required to reach the next level and take on more responsibility. Employees are encouraged to log in to Appraisd regularly to update their progress against their objectives, with the aim to embed performance management into their working day.

Monthly wellbeing check-ins to support employees’ mental health

The wellbeing check-ins are a crucial part of retaining Maze Theory’s supportive culture, making sure everyone has an opportunity to ask for help if they need it and that support will be forthcoming. The check-ins are short and to the point, making them as easy as possible for managers and employees to find time to talk.

Nicola says “Our CEO has made supporting the mental health of our employees a key focus. The wellbeing check-ins are a simple and effective way to offer help and support to everyone in the business, allowing us to step in early and act if people are struggling.”

New employees set objectives from day one

To further embed performance management into the daily working routine, every new employee sets objectives in collaboration with their line manager that can be achieved in their first three months at the company. At the end of their probation period, new employees have a review. From the progress they have achieved, it is clear whether they will be a good fit for the organisation. This process ensures from the moment they join Maze Theory, employees are working toward goals that will help the business thrive.

The benefits: Confidence in creating the culture they are creating

Based on the actions and feedback from employees, Appraisd has become a vital tool for Maze Theory. Every employee had at least one mental health check-in between December 2021 and February 2022, providing senior leaders with the belief they are reaching out to everyone to offer support when they need it.

In January 2022, 100% of quarterly reviews were completed. This is the first time this has happened, showing that managers and employees have a growing appreciation of the value they offer. The business can now be confident that everyone in the organisation is working towards relevant objectives that will drive the business forward and there is a plan for their own development.

“Since joining Maze Theory in March 2021, one of my most important tasks has been ensuring Appraisd is used to its full potential. After a lot of hard work and excellent support from our account manager Ros, I’m happy that we have the right processes for us in place. I was delighted that everyone completed their quarterly reviews in January. The fact that everyone is on board with our approach means that we are all travelling in the same direction, no matter where anyone is based. It gives the business huge confidence that employees feel listened to, valued and motivated. All this helps to create a happy team and a happy team is a team that works and stays together.”<div  class="author">Nicola Howes, Business Operations Manager at Maze Theory</div>
Talent development