Company culture has been increasingly put under the spotlight during the last decade or so, with this exacerbated in recent times after the coronavirus pandemic placed a grip on global freedoms.
Over the course of a three-part CasinoBeats special edition roundtable, a range of topics spanning work life balances, six-hour work days, the quality of life and career progression conundrum and the ‘anti-work’ movement.
Giorgi Tsutskirdze, Chief Commercial Officer at Spribe, Alina Dandörfer, Co-Founder and Director at Apparat Gaming, Cathryn McGinty, Chief People Officer at Glitnor Group, and Nana Shneider, Human Resources Development at Betbazar, close out our three day special.
There are a lot of memes about the gen Z work ethic, but joking aside do you think we’re starting to see a shift away from the ‘grind’ or ‘hustle’ culture that characterised a lot of millennials and pre-millennials to an attitude where quality of life is as important as career incentives? If so, how do you cater to this while offering a clear progression path to employees?
Nana Shneider: As an HRD, your goal is always to help a person have a successful career while also maintaining their health and wellbeing. When a new employee joins Betbazar, we always have very clear goals for them in terms of the development of their career.
We’re very interested in this development and want to keep this person working with us for the long-term by investing in both their training and education. I think the biggest thing to strive for is transparency over what an individual’s career path is and what steps they have to take to achieve their goals.
When you can see the path to success, it’s less stressful because you’re not simply working endlessly without a clear understanding of where you’re going and what you’re reaching for. In terms of people’s wellbeing, it’s an equally important part of our work. I always take care to ask how a person is feeling and if I see something is wrong, I’ll take the initiative and ask whether they need some extra time off.
We use wonderful software at Betbazar where any person is able to take any number of days they need for a vacation or just to reset. Our HR policy is very clear and everything is written down about how we act in a particular situation, so people don’t need to feel stressed about asking for time off to improve their wellbeing.
Giorgi Tsutskirdze: I’d say that the possibility of becoming their best selves is a priority for those in the generation Z demographic – and so too is flexibility and remote work.
Spribe, with its creative work environment and hybrid working philosophy, offers a company culture that appeals to this group of people. Those that work at Spribe are excited to be a part of the company behind the number one crash game in the world and an organisation that continues to push boundaries and fundamentally change the industry.
Alina Dandörfer: Honestly, I think we should say thank you to gen Z. By questioning the customary pattern of the economic system, the new generation rebels against the old. And they do us all a favour as they serve as a catalyst for innovation and modernisation.
Interestingly, however, a study performed in Germany has shown that the supposed differences in values among ‘baby boomers’ and gen Z that are often highlighted in the media are only moderate. The three most important values (family, health and freedom) and virtues (honesty, reliability, helpfulness) are the same across generations. On that basis, we as employers must treat everyone as individuals rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.
Cathryn McGinty: I think for the younger generation, it’s almost a question of working smarter, not harder. When I started work, you did your 9-5 job and waited to move up the food chain. There was this sense that you needed to serve your time before you progressed, but now I don’t think we have these limitations in place and people are judged more on their ability.
As an employer, this is very important to us. We’re not looking at whether people have done a job for five years, we’re looking at who’s ready to take the next step. We mainly promote from within and when we don’t, the first things we look for are ability and character – and you can see that in our new CEO.
It’s a question of recognising it’s not about age, but about whether people are talented and ambitious. Of course, we’ve got a multi-generational workforce here and the managers understand that. What works for an 18-year-old is not necessarily going to work for a 65-year-old, so you’ve got to make sure you find an individual approach that caters for each generation.
However, irrespective of age, we recognise that everyone has two sides to their life and what goes on externally is just as important as what goes on internally. We like to celebrate the successes that people have outside of their job and we use internal social media and our Better Together channel as a means for employees to share what they’re doing.
I think it’s worth mentioning that one of the fastest growing subreddits in recent years has been the ‘antiwork’ movement – essentially a large community of disillusioned employees who have grown tired of not having much of a life outside of work due to rigid hours and the rising cost of living. In what ways can having a good company culture help to re-engage this type of individuals?
GT: This growing ‘antiwork’ sentiment is precisely the reason why we aim to offer such a good work-life balance at Spribe. We also pay our employees higher than the market average, which is just one of the many ways that we show them that we value their contribution to the business and that we want them to be financially secure.
Spribers – as we like to call them – are top performers and are motivated by the opportunity to work for an organisation that sets the standard for all others to follow – we believe anything is possible, and this is highly effective at keeping all our team members engaged.
AD: I think this movement seems to have similar perspectives on work to gen Z. That is to say, seeking to question and critique the role of work in our lives, advocating a shift toward meaningful, voluntary work rather than working tirelessly for the benefit of their employers.
While I support voluntary social commitment, it’s the unromantic but equally undeniable truth that the purpose of a business is to make a profit – or at least not a loss. While everything must be subordinated to this, I think having a good company culture can help to re-engage those who are disillusioned.
Seeing company culture as a product of official and unofficial processes, communication patterns and social manners to convince this type of individual that companies must open their doors and let them experience what it would mean to join and let them see the real working environment rather than slogans on the wall.
Therefore, companies must cater to this goal by allowing profound insights and involving a diverse mix of employees during the application process, as well as being themselves. That’s what we do at Apparat!
CM: While I believe that many of the people expressing this kind of sentiment online have had bad experiences and the employers who’ve exploited them should be named and shamed, unfortunately movements like these tend to see a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon and that leads to an oversimplification of the problem.
Maybe 50 years ago people were quite restricted in terms of what they could do and felt they were chained to their jobs, but these days there are plenty of opportunities out there for people, no matter where in life they’re starting from.
There are now enough good employers around that people always have a choice, so as long as they have a clear idea of what they want to do, they can find a place where their efforts will be appreciated.
Of course, an attractive culture can be a big part of helping a previously disillusioned employee feel welcomed and valued again, but I think you have to look at each case individually rather than simply saying ‘all work sucks’!
NS: I think a good company culture is helpful for this type of person as it can show them that even when they’re in the office, not everything has to be about work. We have a very diverse workforce at Betbazar with a wide range of life experiences.
There are people in the team who are into cinematography or have tried their hands in other fields like yachting or bartending. People go to the theatre or to the cinema and then discuss these experiences with their peers – this is what we talk about when we’re on break, not just work.
By sharing our experiences, we can aid each other’s personal development in a way that has nothing to do with our professional lives, and I think it’s important that people who are disengaged with office life see this as it can influence them in a positive way.
For us this is another important aspect of the company culture, because the people who are interested in various spheres of life are often the ones who are the most successful professionally too.
These are the type of people who can have a conversation with anyone about any topic – regardless of their culture and background – and I think this mentality is particularly present in our sales team, who are able to draw on their life experiences to support any kind of conversation.
In terms of consistently developing and refining the culture of your respective companies, how much of this is decided at a higher level and how much input do regular employees have in shaping the environment they work in? Do you have a specific liaison for all things company culture-related and if so, how do they go about canvassing opinions and incorporating necessary changes?
AD: Though I don’t have that specific label, it’s down to me to make sure that all Apparat Gaming employees are able to shape the company’s culture. Each and every one of them – regardless of their position – determines the working environment for themselves and others through their actions.
Even if a person in a leadership position has the power to impose a certain corset on the processes in the company, the results are not predictable, because the reaction of the people involved is not necessarily correlated in its causality. Companies are complex, social systems – not something where you just press a button or set a certain incentive and everyone is happy.
In my view, the best way to canvas opinions is to introduce regular rounds where employees feel safe to address the pain points on a product’s road to market and then have the freedom to make changes in accordance with that market’s needs.
As an example, retrospective – a basic component to Scrum framework – is a great tool that can be used in different contexts: the team scrutinises the team processes, the mode of operation and the common interfaces and then tries to identify opportunities for improvement for the future.
CM: I think in order for it to be a real company culture, it’s got to be in the DNA that runs through the entire business. That means it needs to be demonstrated in the actions of the board, the interactions in the office, the physical and social environment – literally every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle.
It’s absolutely pointless for any board to write out a list saying “this is our culture and these are our values” if they don’t live it themselves, so we expect this influence to start from the top and filter down through every level of our business.
Of course, culture evolves as people join or leave the company, but I think as long as we remain clear on our identity, our employer brand, our value proposition and what’s important to us, people will continue to buy into it and really believe in the strength of this inside-to-out approach.
I think we already see this with the people we have internally – it’s an authentic culture and it gives us a real alignment across every single aspect of our business.
NS: There’s a saying in many countries – and I think you have it in English too – that the fish starts to rot from the head down, so I think it’s very important that top management are the ones shaping the company culture and setting the standards for all other employees.
Any questions or issues that we face in relation to company culture are discussed in a circle of top management and I think that’s important, because whatever is decided higher up tends to filter down through all levels of the business.
We have to respect the people we work with and a big part of this is listening to their opinions and working through situations to make improvements and solve problems together. This is how we become successful as a company and also how we become successful as professionals.
By having people with a broad mindset who respect each other’s borders and are interested in investing in the development of the team, we can really create a positive working environment for everyone.
GT: The company culture is usually developed at the senior management level, but it’s important for all employees to have input in shaping the environment in which they work. Improving the company culture takes time and achieving long-term, sustainable change requires commitment from the very top down – which is something we have at Spribe.
Our leaders set an example when it comes to communication, accountability and transparency. They strive to improve our culture and are ready to support and invest in initiatives that are important to the wider team. While the senior team puts the framework in place, the entire organisation contributes to the culture that sits within that framework.
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