Looking back on the last year, Gamesys Group Chief People Officer Tina Southall explains that the strategic rationale behind uniting Jackpotjoy Group and Gamesys was very strong. “This was a coming together of two strengths; our customer bases were complementary and our combined talent across the Group outstanding,” she says, adding that the scale of the two businesses uniting was a key ingredient to effectively compete.
“Most importantly, and unlike many such transactions, this one wasn’t founded on big cost ‘synergies’ or staff savings; merely a shared vision of combined growth. United, we envisioned a fantastic platform for growth in both existing and new markets – and I am happy to report we have successfully managed to bring this vision to life,” she continues.
The new combined organisation cemented what was already a symbiotic relationship between the two companies and, following the year-end, Gamesys Group also received news of its inclusion in the FTSE 250 index, which represented another milestone in its corporate development.
“It’s amazing to think a year’s gone by already, and to look back at our achievements over the past 12 months. I am incredibly proud of how our employees responded to the news. They rose to the challenge, rolled up their sleeves and committed to making it work – and this is no small feat when you’ve got a team of 1,500+ people spread across 11 countries,” Tina reveals.
And most importantly, the CPO continues, “we have smoothly blended two dynamic tribes into one, with everyone working brilliantly together. We believe happy employees make our customers happy, hence the Gamesys motto to ‘have fun, making fun’.”
Indeed, at the time of the merger, Chief Human Resources Officer Michela Borg affirmed that the newly formed company’s main focus would be “connecting everyone through a shared purpose, strategy and a combined set of values.” Expanding on this, Tina explains that the new company needed a new ‘purpose’ that would inspire employees and demonstrate its beliefs in how it looks after its players.
Providing entertainment to a global consumer base, Gamesys Group’s purpose, which continues to drive the team forward, is to “craft entertainment with care, building trusted brands and creating great experiences that always put the player first.”
“We want players to be in control of their gambling and we facilitate this with many different tools. It is the right thing to do, but it also helps us build longer-term, healthy player relationships, which ultimately result in more sustainable revenue,” she explains, adding that the team is proud of the fact that their approach to responsible gambling goes beyond simple compliance, and they are committed to being leaders in this area.
Moving on to the Group’s values, Tina reveals that the Gamesys DNA, represented by colourful characters, was based on feedback from employees’ workshops across the organisation, and was launched in November 2019. “Our DNA is much loved and has been adopted internally, thanks to some brilliant work to bring them to life from our in-house design team. Most importantly, they do exactly what we’d set out for them to do – it has become part of our internal language and they inspire our decisions every day,” she maintains.
Employee engagement was also a major focus for the Group this year, having achieved an engagement index of 92 per cent eight months into the merger (and in the middle of a pandemic!). Explaining how this was achieved, Tina says, “we use multiple approaches to keep our communications flowing, including bi-weekly CEO email communications and monthly company video updates.
“Every quarter, these become more of a production, with employee interviews, videos and awards too. We also launched G FORCE, our company-wide recognition scheme in January. Nominations are sent in by fellow employees and 10 winners receive an award of over €1,200 each.”
Of course, she continues, communication has to be two way, which is where The Voice, the company’s annual employee engagement survey, comes in. “We always act on employee feedback. Employees who feel heard are employees who feel valued. We believe this is a key contributor to our high employee retention rate of over 90 per cent.”
The CPO goes on to reveal that, at various points over the last six months, Gamesys Group’s entire employee base has been working remotely. During this time, she says, the team has learnt a lot.
“We have found that we can continue to scale, and have made 74 new hires since March, with the interview and on-boarding processes being carried out entirely remotely,” she says, adding that, recognising the limitation of homeworking conditions for many, the company also introduced a Working from Home allowance to help support employees in creating a more comfortable working space.
“So far, nearly 800 employees have taken advantage of this, moving from ironing boards to desks and kitchen stools to height adjustable chairs,” she smiles.
Meanwhile, employees who were working from home were also sent a merchandise box with a mug, pens, notebooks and stickers; all featuring the new values and company identity.
“Employees loved it, and it has really helped connect people while they have been working remotely,” she says, noting that 98 per cent of survey respondents agreed that Gamesys leadership had effectively supported employees through the COVID crisis, with team leaders being impressed at how quickly team members adapted to the remote working set-up.
“They said that their teams showed genuine care for each other’s wellbeing and made an effort to check in and connect with each other – across offices and continents.”
In keeping with this approach, one of the Group’s primary ambitions is to be ‘known for learning’, and every year, the company delivers a staggering 18,000 events via its Learning and Development platform, Gamesys Guru.
“With LinkedIn Learning and e-books available to all, as well as live webinars with worldrenowned expert speakers, our employee adoption is rising year on year.
“The platform has allowed us to offer an excellent user experience remotely with chat, breakout and split screen capabilities, and of course we’re adding content on how to work effectively remotely all the time,” Tina says.
Meanwhile, beyond making sure their benefits offering exceeds market standard, this past year has seen Gamesys Group harmonise two different legacy approaches, introducing a bonus scheme which rewards personal and company performance – both of which, Tina states, are equally important.
“We also launched G MINE, a company share scheme which allows employees to purchase shares and get a free ‘matching share’. Since June, over a third of the eligible base have become shareholders, demonstrating their loyalty and confidence in our business,” she continues.
Moreover, this year, the company saw the Black Lives Matter movement as a catalyst to make a sustainable difference to its employees.
“We first gathered our BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) community together and held two roundtable listening events where stories were shared, and others listened and learned.
“We now have four active and vibrant networks that connect our communities, providing platforms for networking, mentoring and educational resources,” Tina proudly states, highlighting the others as Pride, representing the LGBTQIA+ community, a Parents Network and GLoW, the Gamesys League of Women.
The Group’s employee networks centre around inclusivity, wellbeing and kindness. “We believe that different perspectives make us smarter and stronger – that’s why we’re so proud to have such a diverse workforce made up of 76 different nationalities,” the CPO reveals, affirming that the team chose to highlight diversity as a key contributor to their success in their DNA, with the aptly named #StayWonderfullyWeird strand, “which encourages employees to present themselves as they are, quirks and all.”
Finally, she adds, “since we know that physical health was particularly important this year and a key contributor to mental wellbeing, we joined the Virgin Pulse Global Wellbeing Challenge with 315 of our employees taking part, alongside gym memberships, yoga classes, nutrition plans and resources to support mental wellbeing.”
And looking outward, Tina also highlights Gamesys Group’s social outreach goals, noting that one of its first major milestones as a combined organisation in 2020 was to establish the Gamesys Foundation.
“As one of the Foundation’s first actions, we chose to donate our sponsorship of the UK’s ITV channel’s Loose Women to Women’s Aid, in order to help raise awareness about domestic abuse during this period. We also made a further corporate donation to enable Women’s Aid to extend their helpline hours over weekends,” she says.
In addition, the Group encouraged employees to give back to their own communities during this difficult year. “To support this, we pledged that employees who use five of their annual leave days to do volunteer work would be awarded double pay for those days.”
Turning her attention to the future, Tina reveals that work is already underway for the Group’s 2021 strategies.
“We are on a path of growth, and it’s really about making smart choices (or #PlacingSmartBets as promoted in our Gamesys DNA) for the future evolution of the business, including what product verticals and which geographies to operate in,” she affirms, noting that strategies are built with the player in mind.
“We pride ourselves on creating a fantastic place to work. We firmly believe our employees should have fun making fun, and certainly one of our continued priorities for what’s left of 2020 and then 2021 is to ensure our employees feel safe, and that they continue to feel engaged with and connected to the company culture and their colleagues, despite the current global climate and working conditions,” she concludes.
This interview was first carried in the November edition of iGaming Capital