Image: Shrek

CASE STUDY: Engaged & Creative Workplace Culture – Inside DreamWorks Animation

In an industry that relies on originality of ideas to become successful and build a strong audience; as well as competing against a firm spearheaded by business innovator and mastermind Steve Jobs (Pixar); it’s no surprise that DreamWorks Animation Studios utilize a number of interesting and unorthodox tactics to engage its workforce, fostering an greater level of intriguing creativity.

Attached below is a video discussing various individual perspectives of employees and creative artists, as well as how the company itself promotes a productive, innovative and welcoming culture that engages and motivates individual workers regularly:

Within the video above, we are given an insight into how Dreamworks brings together individual employees with their unique ideas and creates a full feature length film that can appeal to a mass audience of all ages. The employees being interviewed reinforce key points of what an engaged and motivated company culture should encompass, saying that the company is noted for: ‘supporting talent…aspiring talent….enabling freedom to explore; encouraging staff to think outside the box”. 

It is from attitudes such as these mentioned above that the company has been able to be so successful in the contemporary animated film industry. Not only has it had successful blockbuster hits such as Madagascar , but has experienced a 42% growth in employees over four years, which can be attributed to the company’s ability of promoting a ‘home-like’ business culture; where each employee is viewed as family with (as quoted from the video) “their family part our entire family”.

The company itself implements a number of different strategies that adhere to the many varied inputs of its individual employees, including holding a ‘creative update’ every 18 months where ‘blueprints’ (drawings/images/clips) of animations are presented to head management. By doing this, instantly each input is given value and recognition, allowing employees to find meaning and success in their efforts at work. This strategy also ties in with “DreamTalks” – team meetings that are broadcasted to other HQ’s globally as well as including special guests such as the director of Titanic & Avatar – James Cameron.

“As DreamWorks has grown and grown in terms of the size of the workforce, we very much didn’t want to lose that characteristic where people feel like individuals and they don’t feel like they’re part of a large corporate machine”.

(DreamWorks head of HR Dan Satterthwaite – source:

DreamWorks further provides non-monetary incentives and physical workplace bonuses to its employees such as yoga & kickboxing classes; tying them in with engagement tactics that  provide stress relief and physical and mental revival. These incentives are not seen as ‘distractions’, but rather as perks of a demanding job where employees can get easily overworked and/or lose the motivation to provide constant creative output.

The company also hosts Monday Night movie screenings that allow for its workforce to relax and bond on greater levels outside of daily work activities. By implementing such strategies, Dreamworks has successfully developed and promoted a culture where each individual feels welcomed and part of the team – an achievement which a vast majority of modern companies struggle to obtain.

Fresh juice trucks visit the Californian studio HQ regularly; and employees are given stipends they can use to personalize their work stations. Parties are frequently held when large projects are completed; encouraging each individual employee to share the work they have achieved and congratulate each other.

Dreamwork’s success therefore has been the result of a combination of the strategies and incentives mentioned above, all of which foster an engaged workplace culture allowing individual employees to feel valued and let their creativity thrive. In the modern business landscape; regardless of industry, more and more companies are taking the ‘think outside the box’ approach to enable their individual employees to be  enthusiastic, innovative and productive when it comes to completing challenging business tasks.  Dreamwork’s company revenue was over $706 million in 2011.


Engage and motivate with WooBoard; an employee recognition platform that encourages happier, more productive workplaces.
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photo credit: Saint Angel via photopin cc

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