Pentasia group head of client services, Andrew Cook, outlines the key factors affecting hiring in the gaming industry, before the recruitment specialist’s experts break down pay rates and trends by function and role.
JUMP TO: SALARIES BY FUNCTION AND ROLE
“Acquiring top-level talent” ranks frequently among the very highest concerns of leaders in igaming. Companies want to grow or take on investment, but the talent market is holding them back.
Recruitment and retention is a strategic issue and requires senior-level attention. But throwing money at the problem, whether in terms of organic or inorganic growth, is only a short-term fix. Other strategies are also needed.
In this challenging market, the focus must be on building strong talent pipelines and retention strategies to ensure your company has the people you need to succeed.
Our salary survey results show that over the last year, 2021-2022, salaries throughout the global igaming industry have increased by a minimum of 12.5%. This is a benchmark based on industry averages across different departments, roles and levels of experience.
Not every role requires a 12.5% uplift to secure a great candidate. Some will be closer to 2021 rates, while others will require an even greater salary increase to get the right talent. The reasons for wage inflation are nuanced but overall it remains a candidate’s market.
In areas where there is a small talent pool and high demand, such as compliance, tech, product and project management, candidates can expect a serious pay rise for moving roles, closer to 30%. Competition for experts in these fields is only going to increase as more countries regulate and igaming companies enter those markets.
We’re seeing this with salespeople too, especially those with experience. Mid-level salespeople, with black books and a few years under their belts are commanding even more of a premium within the category. The workhorses of commercial functions are well aware of their value.
Passive candidates have always been attractive to recruiters. These are people who are not actively looking for a new role and are often higher quality than those that are proactively job hunting.
With fewer active candidates [people applying for advertised roles] on the market, passive candidates are hot property. These highly sought-after candidates are inundated with approaches from recruiters and require serious incentives to move. They’re not looking for a job so why take the risk of moving companies without a serious uplift in salary and other benefits?
Strong talent pipelines need investment
Investment is needed to build talent pipelines to future-proof workforce growth. From attracting talent with a strong employer brand to giving recruiters the resources they need to identify and engage the right candidates requires time and money. Igaming employers are also competing for talent with other sectors, especially for roles with highly transferable skills such as tech. Competing sectors often have more established recruitment strategies and understand the value of investing in talent acquisition and retention.
Retention and the counteroffer
Workforce growth doesn’t have to mean hiring. Successful employers empower existing employees to realise their potential through professional development and incentivise them to stay with attractive benefit packages and workplace perks.
Our partners at iGaming Academy have experienced unprecedented demand for training services this year, particularly in the US market where the talent pool remains embryonic.
Counteroffers are a common occurrence and it’s important to be prepared for this eventuality. You need to move fast to keep candidates engaged and to secure them before a counteroffer is on the table. Conversely, consider your own counteroffer strategies to retain your top people.
Equality and diversity
Igaming employers that are committed to achieving gender and ethnic diversity within their companies are at an advantage when it comes to talent acquisition and retention. Opening your business to a wider mix of talent can help you address skills shortages as well as boosting creativity and innovation.
Employees, regardless of gender or ethnicity, also feel more valued in companies that have made real efforts to promote equality, which results in higher employee engagement and lower churn.
Andrew Cook, group head of client services
The iGB-Pentasia Salary Survey in depth
SALARIES BY FUNCTION AND ROLE
Managing directors and C-suite
Gaming businesses recognise the value-add that outstanding leadership can provide. On a case-by-case basis, many are willing to remunerate substantially above the baseline (including well beyond the headline figure quoted in this report). When it comes to senior roles, salary is often less important than medium- to long-term remuneration, in the form of bonuses and long-term incentive plans (LTIPs). In most markets, and prominently in the US, certain businesses are showing a particular willingness to pitch aggressive packages to target candidates. One note of caution: increased M&A activity paves the way for restructuring, which can displace senior candidates and depress remuneration levels somewhat in specific cases.
Gerry O’Sullivan, Marden executive
Analytics & senior developers
Data is more valuable than ever and its importance to companies shows in the continual demand for top talent. Interview rounds are shortening as talent have more offers than before, with salaries continuing to rise.
Office-based roles have been replaced with hybrid work, although remote roles are still more popular to candidates. High demand means that candidates with gaming experience, maths or computer science degrees are rarely available for long.
Legal and compliance
Salaries have increased significantly across the board, but it’s premium pricing for leadership talent that’s most inflating the average rate. With such a severe talent shortage, good leaders are receiving highly attractive offers. The continual delay of the UK Gambling Act review has slowed hiring, though companies are ringfencing funds for aggressive hiring as soon as the tides turn. New AML requirements in multiple jurisdictions are driving demand for this specialist skillset. Compliance hiring can be made more challenging by its requirement for location-specific and office-based working; companies that can find a way to improve flexibility will find hiring easier.
Language skills are a key component of customer services, with Finnish, Swedish, Korean and Japanese fluency among the highest in demand. Companies generally look to recruit from outside igaming at junior levels as they can provide quick and thorough training. Support roles have historically been fully office-based, but companies are now organising themselves to accommodate hybrid work. Remote working is possible, but not easy to find.
Finance and operations
Demand is substantial for these crucial backend roles. The post-pandemic expansion of businesses was driven by frontend roles (sales, marketing and business development) but now key finance and operations functions need to be bolstered. HR too continues to play a vital role, particularly in managing multi-location workforces and in creating unity between remote teams. Finance has seen large amounts of hiring, particularly in leadership roles and financial planning analysis. Hiring still predominantly focuses on in-office working which has caused issues getting the right people in the right places.
The marketing function has been very busy this year across the board with affiliate and retention hires being the most prevalent. The move to more remote working has led to clients being able to attract talent from a bigger pool. This has led to a rise in contractors working remotely and invoicing the business on a higher salary, though with no benefits. It is still a candidate-short market and companies are aggressively counteroffering their staff to hold on to talent. Marketing is still seen as a key function to differentiate your brand from the crowd and talent budgets therefore remain significant.
Product and project
Amid an industry-wide skills shortage, product and project roles are among the most sought-after. Experience commands a serious premium and, with candidate engagement at a historic low, employers have to work harder than ever to attract individuals. The industry’s continued success ensures bonus targets are being hit and candidates have begun to demand these be built into their base – a big ask but one that employers are increasingly entertaining. Remote roles are in demand, but hybrid (2-3 days in the office) is significantly more common.
Sales and account management
Hiring activity for sales and account managers continues to be buoyant after a tough period during the pandemic. Hiring good-quality candidates has been challenging this year. High demand, particularly at the mid-level, has led to increased salaries. Demand for sales professionals is high across Europe as well as in the LatAm region. The candidate-driven market is prioritising hybrid and remote models, though we have noticed companies increasingly trying to entice people back to the office. Since the pandemic there has been more flexibility around location, but companies stipulating that candidates are based in one of the major gaming hubs is becoming more common.
The talent shortage in igaming is at its most severe in the tech sphere, a trend that continues from previous years. Skilled candidates have their pick of a vast array of job options. Demand is highest for mid- and senior-level roles, with igaming industry experience a must at senior levels. Even those with as little as a year’s experience, though, can demand £20k raises in today’s market.
The most successful employers are those that adopt a 100% remote model (perhaps with face-to-face every few months), allowing them to meet a key demand while vastly expanding their geographic talent pool. Salaries across Europe are continuing to standardise as remote work levels the playing field; there are no longer “cheap” talent pools – just one price for skills and experience. US companies, however, find European talent just as good but half the price; their hiring activity is certainly inflating European market rates. Employers in general need a highly attractive offer to appeal to candidates. The interview process has drastically changed due to the market, with five-round interviews a thing of the past and three the new maximum. Hiring decisions, too, have to be made quickly.