“There were no complaints against the company during the rally, but the fact that people were upset is a fact,” says a Wargaming employee who agreed to speak with journalists on condition of anonymity. He is the only one of 15 employees we reached out for comment who didn’t refuse to talk.
— Talk that Wargaming might leave Belarus appeared in the fall of 2020, after the suppression of peaceful protests. After one of our employees served a day, fell under a criminal offense, they began to whisper on the sidelines that it was time to leave. A little later, everything more or less settled down, but all the same, recommendations about a possible move were received. Different options were offered,” the young man describes the situation. – As a result, the company continued to work, but the withdrawal of people continued. The actions of the authorities also contributed to the latter. In January 2021, for example, income tax was increased for residents. Now it is 13%, and was – 9%.
– It turns out that there will be no office in Minsk?
“They said at the rally that perhaps Lesta Studio will open its office in Minsk, but it is not yet known for sure,” the interlocutor answers.
– Did you name the countries where those who wish to stay in Wargaming can move?
— The company, for example, has offices in Vilnius, Prague.
Will the relocation of those wishing to take place centrally?
“I can tell you how it is now, but I don’t know how it will be in the future,” the man explains. “Before the start of the war, we could write an application to our boss, where we indicated: “I want to move there.” The document was handed over to the HR, and the employee was slowly transferred. After the war started, the process became more centralized. Now, I can assume that everything will be even more active.
– Did you talk about monetary compensation for the move?
“The letter says that employees who will be affected by the company’s decision will receive compensation and support to the maximum extent possible,” the employee reads out part of the letter and notes that specific amounts were not announced. – According to the experience of people who traveled earlier, this can be money comparable to a monthly salary. Depending on the salary, this could amount to one and a half to three thousand dollars.
— In general, during relocation, they will help with paying for visas, flights and accommodation for the first month in a new place + a bonus on expenses.
— Are there those who have already decided that they will move to Lesta Studio?
I haven’t discussed this with anyone yet. Lesta Studio developed one of the Wargaming games – World of Warships. This is a Russian company, there is a Russian leadership. It is on a slightly different ideological platform than the Belarusian Wargaming. It seems to me that people who are mentally closer to the Russians will go to work there.
How are your colleagues? Are they planning to leave?
I think half will move. I have three good friends in the Minsk office, they say that they will most likely relocate,” our interlocutor believes. – Now the management has been tasked with talking with employees, listening to their plans and trying to help. An important goal in this case is to preserve the team as much as possible. I want to note that the company’s words and deeds do not diverge.
“They say it will take four months to move,” – In fact, there are two main options: dismissal or relocation. Relocation – provided when you are a “valuable” employee, though it is not clear by what criteria they will be evaluated. Relocation options will be offered individually. Dismissed will be upon the closing of the office.
About the reaction of the team
– The part of the team that is registered in the Minsk office is simply in a trance, because no one expected this.
Thoughts on layoffs and relocation
– I think that there will be a large percentage of layoffs, at least 50%. Most likely, they will relocate to Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic.
“Readiness for relocation is a big question. In Belarus, there were those who did not have great opportunities to leave and live in peace even on an IT salary, as well as those who have strong ties with their families here. But now the majority will probably reconsider the decision and still leave, if offered.
- Personally, I have no idea what’s next. My colleagues do too. Relocation is an option, but the question is about conditions and location. Most likely, we will be offered the same salary conditions, but tax laws in another country can cut off net income. Yes, I don’t know if they will offer me at all. That is, to look for alternatives now or not is an open question.