Interview with Leila Ashton, Director of HR Micro Gaming the gaming industries leading provider.
You can see Microgaming featured by major providers at Exhibitions and Convention Events like London Affiliate Conference at excel London. There are countless opportunities to see this goliath in iGaming in action and in this article you will read about how it manages to keep on the forefront of personnel development and growth.
How much focus do you put on making Microgaming a great place to work and why is that important?
Ensuring Microgaming is a great place to work is a core focus of the HR team, as well as the Executive Team. As our CEO Roger Raatgever says, “culture is not something you can force”, but we have a number of initiatives in place to drive a positive culture internally. For example, Culture Ambassadors is a group of individuals who are tasked with innovating and introducing new ideas, initiating change, investing time to make a difference internally, involving others and helping them to grow, and connecting teams globally. We’ve seen great success from the programme since its roll-out, including the sign up of 100 volunteers for PlayItForward, our CSR programme, regular lunch clubs bringing people across different teams together and a video mission which puts our talent in front of the camera.
Could you share a few company practices or innovations that you think has worked really well in terms of employee satisfaction?
The Idea Factory is a fantastic example of a Microgaming initiative that has genuinely transformed the way in which our people innovate – it even won The Spark Award 2017! It is about empowering staff who on a daily basis might not have the time to think creatively or space to implement ideas.
The inaugural contest took place throughout 2016 in Microgaming’s HQ. There were four rounds in total, with the Decision Panel, made up of senior members of staff, deciding which ideas should be implemented or not. Five ideas won the 2016 contest including the top-performing EmotiCoins online slot that went live in August. Highly successful, the initiative is now being run every six months and has expanded to offices worldwide.
Over the past few years we have also spent a lot of time looking at employee wellbeing and in 2014 we launched Wellness Week, a series of events, classes and sessions that focus on maintaining and improving our wellbeing in the office. Feedback from Wellness Week has been so positive, this has since become an annual event. We have also incorporated a blood drive, asking employees to donate a pint of blood to Noble’s Hospital in the Isle of Man. In return, Microgaming donates £25 per donor to a charity of their choice.
Most recently we have focused on Mental Health having signedthe Employer Pledge with Time to Change, which aims to end mental health discrimination. We were delighted when our focus on wellbeing led to us being awarded the Isle of Man Newspapers’ Award for Excellence for Workplace Wellbeing in November 2017, a very proud moment for not only the HR team but the wider company as well.
How was the recently launched Sixty Two ‘campus’ headquarters designed with the employee and company culture in mind?
When we were in the process of designing our new HQ, now named Sixty Two, we put employees in the heart of this process. We worked with a company called HATCH who conducted a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection and research.All staff were involved in this process.
The research identified a number of key themes, one importantly being that both contemplation and collaboration is important to our people. 85% of respondents stated that they believe effective collaboration drives innovation and 95% stated that contemplation time is needed to generate new ideas, re-energise and decrease stress.
HATCH recommended that Microgaming consider creating an environment which better supported a balance between contemplation and collaboration. The new building does exactly this with informal and formal meeting spaces, a canteen and coffee shop to encourage collaboration, ‘bump’ zone walkways within each floor to encourageinteraction between employees and a library for some downtime. There’s also a fully equipped gym!
We’ve seen how much effort goes in to making Microgaming an exciting place to work, so what sorts of jobs and career paths can people expect with the company?
As I’m sure many people who work in the industry will say, online gaming is incredibly fast-paced. No two days are ever the same which makes our industry very exciting to work in. What we often find is that staff may start in a particular role in a particular team, but movement happens and people have the opportunity to change role and develop their skills in other areas of the business.
We also focus a lot on nurturing our talent and developing them in their career. The average length of service at Microgaming is four years, five months, while nearly 20% of staff at the company have reached 10 years’ service. What that shows is that staff feel that they have a long-term career here, which is great.
What are the challenges in recruiting people to the sector, including graduates and other skilled workers? Do you find that iGaming is a ‘harder sell’ due to the negative biases some potential employees may have?
If we look at the Isle of Man specifically, I believe the appetite for people to work for Microgaming is very high. In 2017 alone we received over 2,000 individual applications. I do believe we have an excellent employer brand and that candidates are excited to work in the iGaming industry, after all it accounts for 17.2% of GDP for the Isle of Man. Microgaming alone on the Isle of Man has grown 35.5% in staff since 5thDecember 2016.
What’s more, we find that those applying for jobs on the island are keen to work for a company that has a great reputation for giving back and making a difference. Almost all interviewees make reference to Microgaming PlayItForward and we scored 90% in our latest Employee Engagement survey for CSR.
Probably our biggest challenge has been attracting people from off-island, especially those who have little knowledge of the Isle of Man and what it has to offer. As a global business that is headquartered on the Isle of Man, we have to educate candidates as to the benefits of the island, and quite often after a visit to our home, they see first-hand what a fantastic place it is to relocate to.
Are you able to find the skilled workers you need?
IT-skilled recruitment can be more challenging. Our friends at Derivco Isle of Man have certainly had to work hard to fill specialised posts. I think it is about using the right methods of recruitment and understanding where the skilled talent pools are and ensuring you promote in those areas.
Each and every role is different and some roles might take longer to fill than others. Overall, I believe we do very well with attracting the right talent to the right roles.
How much of a factor is your location on the Isle of Man, in terms of recruiting?
Microgaming has been based on the Isle of Man since 2001 when we set up home in a small office housing just six staff. We have grown massively over the years, so much so we have recently built a brand new head office, adjacent to our existing building, joined by a sky bridge. The new campus is a sign of our growth and commitment to the Isle of Man.
The island is a fantastic place to be based for a number of reasons: the island was the first jurisdiction to establish a regulatory framework, a robust telecoms and data hosting infrastructure, access to government and a brilliant pace of life; perfect for bringing up a family. Our 90% retention rate shows that staff are very happy being based on the island.
Further afield we have a talent pool of over 2,500 staff worldwide and offices on every inhabited content. We are not only growing on the island, but worldwide too.
With iGaming a growth industry, but getting more competitive, give us a prediction on what that means for jobs and recruitment in the future in the sector.
Our CEO Roger Raatgever was recently on a panel at the KPMG Isle of Man eGaming Summit, and he spoke about how the industry is becoming more competitive specifically in terms of recruitment. He raised a few of the island’s softer issues and concerns, such as flights and schooling.
“We compete on an international level and we must attract staff at that level. There’s a lot of real competition out there: it’s Malta, Gibraltar, Singapore and Hong Kong.”
That’s why when designing our new HQ, we knew we wanted to create something that could stand in any city worldwide and compete on the highest of levels. That way we will attract the very best talent to our business.