iGaming & Betting: Does Health Demand a Seat at the Table?

Betting Jobs consider the lasting impact of the Coronavirus on workplace management in the iGaming and Betting industry, as well as the measures potentially required for the protection of employee and public health.

As we approach the gradual easing of lockdown measures in many locations, what lessons can we learn and changes can we make in creating a new normal? For most, the unavoidable shift in our thinking will be public and employee health taking priority in decision-making for the long-term. In practice and hiring, what will this look like?

Speaking with Salesforce.com, leading international physician Dr. David Agus laid out his own argument in favour of Chief Health Officers joining the executive structure. His is a persuasive argument, particularly when the company in question is on the scale of a Salesforce or comparable organisation. This addition to the org chart would centralise and specialise the management of all factors relating to company-wide wellbeing and safety. Dr Agus draws the direct comparison to the growing specialisation at executive level for environmental policies, and contends that this additional distinction carries equal importance.

However, it is essential to recognise that there is not a one-size-fits-all blueprint to follow here. There are certainly firms in the iGaming and Betting industry with the scale and structure to accommodate an executive-level specialist in this field. Indeed, there may also be an assembled team of support staff to follow. What does this picture look like for our small and medium size enterprises, start-ups and lean managerial structures?

Hiring for Health Purposes

Raising this question with a number of contacts within the industry, we hear that many businesses are taking action. A key contact within a multinational operator of both retail and online products describes a recent hire with essentially this remit. In light of recent circumstances and pressures, this is an expenditure showing immediate benefits. Coordinating the health and safety, productivity and flexibility of a staff count in the thousands, multiple office locations and customer-facing properties is very much a full time undertaking.

The solution at a more modest level may take a variety of forms. The role of Office Manager, for example, already carries some responsibility for best practice and safety in the workplace. The expansion or specialisation of this position is one possible solution, although the need for specific training and impact on other responsibilities is important to consider. With many of our iGaming and Betting clients, there has been a recognisable specialisation in the field of Human Resources with talent acquisition, employee branding and people management requiring their own individual headcounts. It is entirely possible that this division may continue further with the addition of employee health and safety as the sole focus for a further HR hire.

As an alternative, similar to the rise in GDPR/environmental guidance, the demand for external consultation from experts in this field is likely to grow considerably. The legal picture in many locations is changing with respect to public health and employer requirements, and this creates the need for specialist training and compliance. The market for industry-specific expertise is going to be competitive, and the need for trust in selecting your partner is paramount.

From a recruitment perspective, we can already hear these questions being asked in our network. The immediate pivot into remote working will undoubtedly lead to shift in policy from many, and become a long term solution. Where possible, many iGaming and Betting businesses have maintained some level of continued office presence under the strict adherence of a health-first set of guidelines. Reduced office capacity, protective hygiene measures and common-sense social distancing have been the only safe manner in which to protect this office-time, and is expected to be the long-term reality.

We are already seeking and holding conversations with this focus, with the intention of offering our own guidance on the subject. The valuable insight from those in our network already making these changes at a hiring level, as well as those putting themselves forward for personal responsibility in the field has been much appreciated. We welcome the wider discussion of the point, and are available for consultation on our impressions of the market and demand.

Workplace Guidance

Perhaps more than ever before, the centralising and clarifying of company-wide guidance in health is essential. We are faced with the inescapable choice between increased flexibility and long-term accommodation of remote working, or enacting detailed policies managing the flow and safety of staff in our offices. In truth, almost all businesses in our space will likely proceed with a combination of both. There is a balance to be found between making necessary changes for the common good, and minimising overall disruption as we all seek a return to recognisable normality.

In his Salesforce.com article, Dr Agus continues in listing a range of measures, overseen by a Chief Health Officer or comparable figure, which will likely be the new reality for those returning to office life. Staggered starting times, de-cluttered office space, detailed hygiene policy and continued social distancing all appear to be realistic predictions, and sensible measures to take.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, journalist Chip Cutter takes this a step further in his article “Welcome Back to the Office. Your Every Move is Being Watched”. The potential for increased surveillance and tracking for the purpose of employee safety is apparent, with employers left to balance this against a remote structure as the more straight-forward approach to adopt.

Our conversations on this subject have been engaging and offered insight into the actions already being taken. One client with multiple offices across several countries described plans for a staggered return to work schedule, managing the flow of staff to and from the office. Staff will gradually have the option to return to some degree of office-based working, with the days and times of this access scheduled to maximise social distancing. There is the need for strict policies regarding use of facilities, such as kitchen usage, to ensure that all staff are familiar with hygiene requirements and health advice.

While the options to reintroduce office work are flexible and can be managed to varying degrees, the wheels are likely to be slower in turning again when it comes to retail betting and gaming. Social distancing policy will dictate when premises can reopen, and we will undoubtedly see new policy on everything from cash handling to allowed player numbers.

Hopefully, this conversation can be an ongoing one – and we encourage comment and discussion from all. The sharing of ideas, safeguards and best practice can only be a positive. If you are looking to engage with experts in this field on a consultative basis, or hire a specialist to prepare your organisation in this field – we’d love to speak with you.

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