As it has with many other industries, COVID has pushed iGaming into something of a forced evolution.
Companies have had to adapt to survive during the pandemic, with the vast majority forced to close offices leaving staff working from home to help stem the spread of the virus.
While this was far from the only challenge to the industry posed by the pandemic, for Carl-Henrik Larneryd, CEO of recruitment company Scandistaff Limited, which specialised in working in the iGaming and Fintech sectors, this shift from working in the office to having, more or less, the entire workforce working remotely was the greatest challenge – and the greatest learning opportunity – offered by the pandemic to the iGaming industry.
Speaking to iGaming Capital as part of a wider feature interview in the magazine’s summer edition, he says: “I believe that most companies managed this very well and the most exciting thing about this, in my opinion, is the insights and facts it has brought us”.
A number of factors need to be considered when evaluating the impact of COVID, and when considering how to change operations, he explains:
“Do we need to work from the office every day? Did the transition from office to home improve or decline productivity? Are there possibilities to offer more appealing employment and at the same time reduce costs? How will employees feel about returning to the office after getting used to working from the comfort of their home?”
While Mr Larneryd acknowledges that different people will offer different answers, he identifies that there is a strong sentiment amongst workers that a hybrid approach to work would be best, saying, “I am rather confident that quite a large number of people would like to continue working from home a few days a week – and employers who cater for that will have an advantage in employer branding and staff retention.”
Addressing a key problem posed to the industry by COVID, the CEO descries a lack of in person networking opportunities.
“An undoubtedly negative consequence of the pandemic was the lack of conferences and arenas for people to meet, especially account managers, affiliate managers and suppliers”, he says he found.
Discussing the human resources and hiring challenges of the pandemic, Mr Larneryd states that whilst there was a dip in the number of vacancies in the iGaming sector in 2020, this has reversed in 2021, and vacancies are now increasing.
He attributes this to a number of factors, including the fact “many vacancies were on hold during a major part of 2020”, as ambiguity reigned on how to onboard staff remotely, and when/if the COVID situation would improve.
Looking to the future, he says: “I think we have now come to terms with it and realise that the show must go on, and we must adapt to what we have to work with. The past year clearly had a negative impact on sports betting with fewer sports events taking place, but the casino market has remained stable and, in some cases, increased.”
Mr Larneryd acknowledges that a strong, thriving iGaming industry is beneficial for his industry but insists more factors need to be taken into account when considering hiring trends.
“One should consider that increased financial results do not always mean that there needs to be more headcount. It all depends on whether the customer base has increased, VIPs are spending more, or even whether actions have been taken internally to automate and increase efficiency.”
The Scandistaff CEO believes that philosophies in the industry have changed, and that moving forward, employers will start to demand a higher level of professionalism from agencies, “and that the past ‘shotgun’ approach will no longer be tolerated.”
“The industry is maturing, and the agencies that go by the old ways will need to adapt to cater for higher standards,” he asserts, adding that the recruitment industry will likely see an increase in positions in the fields of legal, compliance, and AML due to increased regulation and greater enforced gaming licence requirements.
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