Jon Arnold, Chief Executive of Arnold Ash Group and Talent Advisory Partner at SBC Advisory Partners, shares much-needed insight on the clear and present dilemma facing leadership and HR team as they seek to grow and build businesses during a period where talent for hire is in short supply across all mass-market industries.
SBC: Jon thanks for this interview… From your perspective what is the main HR problem facing the industry at this particular moment in time?
Jon Arnold: The biggest challenge gaming leaders face today is securing quality talent to drive their business units forward – talent is in short supply and is restricting some good businesses from becoming peak performers.
Arnold Ash helps organisations realise their full value. With offices reopening it offers these leaders the opportunity to promote a flexible working environment – balancing the need to be office-based with employees’ desires to work from home. Those leaders who embrace this opportunity and build solutions around individuals will no doubt have a wider talent pool in 2022 and beyond.
I’ve never seen a market like this. We have been living through strange times recently, so I guess I have come to expect the unexpected. In addition to this, I didn’t foresee a situation where the demand for skills particularly in industries that are digital, interactive or technology-led would outweigh the supply across all functions, not just within the technology team.
SBC: Post COVID, why should HR and talent development be at the top of industry leadership’s agenda?
JA: Various functions are thrust into the spotlight over the course of time. IT doesn’t tell you to “switch it off and on” anymore. Now they are building your product, your platform, your differentiator, and your user experience. I feel in recent times it’s been HR’s turn to step out of the shadows to both steer and steady the ship. HR is now talent solutions, talent strategy, people office, employee experience, and brand ambassadors – the list goes on.
The battle for both identifying, attracting, and retaining quality staff is on, and the competition is fierce. The fact that I am engaged daily with industry-leading founders, CEOs and board members about their strategic roadmap and their executive placement needs to support that, tells me that HR and talent development is already close to the top of their agenda.
The gaming industry is very transient, top talent does not stay in one place unless they are on the right package, have the right goals and the culture is a good fit for them. I work closely with gaming leaders to not only secure new talent but to make sure they retain their stars for the long term and drive their business growth forward.
SBC: Mirroring other mass-market industries, gaming is in the midst of the ‘great resignation phenomenon’. How has this factor impacted industry incumbents?
JA: For every company that isn’t on the ball, isn’t agile, doesn’t listen to its employees, there is another evolving and sweeping up the unhappy and bewildered. There’s always a new employer who will welcome top talent with open arms, greeting them with cheer and offering them the conditions they feel they deserve.
This heightened movement of talent will endure until the last bastions against change realise that they are crawling through quicksand and need to build solutions around people, not only systems and processes. At that point things will settle as the majority of companies will take my advice that they must be offering positive and tailored employment solutions.
SBC: Is igaming experiencing stagnation in its talent pool, to the point where employees simply transfer from company to company – and does leadership actually care?
JA: I’m afraid not. Gaming was a bit of a closed shop in the past and a talent merry-go-round where you could hop on or off with little disruption. To upskill and disrupt this perpetual cycle some HR innovation has come into play, resulting in partnerships with universities and other training hubs or hiring from external industries to implement solid long term succession planning and pipeline.
Even though the demand for talent is high in igaming the industry growth paired with other industries that use cutting edge technologies such as streaming, e-commerce, fintech, crypto, data and media now pose a threat to top talent actually leaving the industry. And that leakage could dilute the quality (not the numbers) of the people in our sphere. We must work hard to keep the very best people within our industry.
This, in line with remote working solutions that are now commonplace, means that gaming businesses are having to stay on their toes – which can only be a good thing – to compete with these new kids on the block. Treat your staff as you’d want to be treated or they soon could be joining Amazon, DAZN, Spotify or Metaverse.
SBC: You have partnered with SBC Advisory Partners. What is its take on improving HR and recruitment as an industry discipline?
JA: My approach at Arnold Ash Group has always been as a trusted advisor and consultant first which made my transition into the SBC Advisory’s Executive team seamless. They are a fantastic team with decades of experience in varying disciplines, but ultimately in growth, transformation, market-entry, exits and sales and it’s inspiring being surrounded by such professionals.
We believe that your human capital (the talent in your business) is ultimately one of the key pillars to your success. A ship is only as good as its crew and it’s of paramount importance to keep that crew trained, qualified, motivated, innovative, relevant, committed, focussed and efficient. This ultimately gives you the best chance of success in whichever way you measure it, but ultimately in your bottom line.
It’s fantastic to be part of an executive team of Industry experts at SBC Advisory led by Anton Kaszubowski now. It means I can offer my clients more than just Talent Solutions. Consulting and Transaction Advisory services for sports, betting & gaming organisations is at the heart of what we do.
Jon Arnold -CEO @ Arnold Ash and Talent Advisory Partner SBC Advisory Partners