BUSINESS

Korean game companies offer unusual welfare programs

By Lim Jeong-yeo

From monthlong paid leave to matchmaking service subsidies, welfare benefits evolve

  • Published : Oct 6, 2019 - 16:32
  • Updated : Oct 6, 2019 - 17:44

Once notorious for painstakingly long working hours and unfavorable conditions, game companies here are making a 180-degree-turn, offering workplace benefits that stretch beyond conventional areas.

In-house day care for children, various classes to help employees develop their skills, gyms, libraries and lavish cafeteria meals are no longer unusual at these companies, according to industry sources.

But Kakao Games and Pearl Abyss have other benefits that are more unusual.


The entrance to the Kakao Games office (Kakao Games)

Kakao Games offers, among other things, a day off on the last Friday of every month. The whole of Kakao Games rests on this day.

“You know how your work chat group keeps on piling up messages on a personal day off? Well, there’s no such thing when the entire company takes the same day off,” said a Kakao Games employee.

“And that’s a bigger upside than it sounds. It drastically bumps up your quality of rest.”

On other weeks, Kakao Games people officially call it a day 30 minutes earlier on Friday, at 5:30 p.m., and come to work 30 minutes later on Monday at 10:30 a.m. for longer weekends.

Kakao Games also grants employees a month of paid leave after three years with the company.

Pearl Abyss, the developer and publisher of Black Desert, is another game company with an unusual welfare program. 


Pearl Abyss provides employees with a subsidy to join a matchmaking service. (Pearl Abyss)

The company, as of September, has added a pilot project of giving selected employees up to 3 million won ($2,518) toward matchmaking service membership fees.

“Most of our company welfare programs so far have targeted married people,” said a Pearl Abyss representative, who explained that support for matchmaking services was a way of expanding welfare benefits to singles.

“Of course, this is a very personal arena and the process is kept strictly confidential. For now we are selecting five out of the applicants to test out the program and get feedback, but there’s no way for anyone not directly involved to know who these five are,” the representative said.

Pearl Abyss gives its employees a monthly livelihood subsidy of 500,000 won per child, and another 500,000 won if the employee lives close to the company in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province. It also offers medical support for infertile couples and provides an extra allowance for elder care for employees’ parents.

Game companies are increasingly migrating away from the previous practice of instituting a blanket wage system with a fixed amount of overtime pay.

Pearl Abyss spearheaded the movement in 2017, followed by WeMade in 2018. Nexon subsidiary Neople joined the movement in January this year.

The matter especially started to gain traction this year when Nexon, Korea’s biggest game company, announced it would start paying staff by the hour for overtime as of August.

NCSoft and Netmarble, who round out the top three game companies in terms of revenue alongside Nexon, said they will follow suit this month. Smilegate, Webzen, EA Korea are also part of the trend.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)


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