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, offer their insights in part one.

CasinoBeats: Particularly in the last ten years or so, one of the main things that has separated successful legacy businesses and new start-ups from more old-fashioned employers is a strong focus on ‘company culture’. What exactly does this term represent to each of you individually and why is it so important in attracting the right kind of talent?

Giorgi Tsutskirdze: At Spribe it’s all about our team, which continues to successfully deliver on the most exciting yet challenging projects we take on. We have fostered a highly creative environment where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued.

This is hugely important to us as any idea has the potential to change the game for Spribe and the wider igaming industry, as we have seen with Aviator. Our culture has been constructed in a way that appeals to ambitious, free-thinking people that thrive on creativity and always want to move forwards.

For us, this means taking games in our existing portfolio to the next level or coming up with new concepts, themes, mechanics and bonuses and bringing them to market. To do this, we allow each team member to perform at their best and we combine this with cutting-edge technologies to ensure the speed and agility of our products. Ultimately, we want players to have fun when engaging with our games and for that to happen, our team needs to have fun making them.

“Corporate culture is the mirror of a company”

Alina Dandörfer, Co-Founder and Director at Apparat Gaming

Alina Dandörfer: Corporate culture is the mirror of a company. It reflects the established rules, decision making processes, manners and the official/unofficial communication channels. For me, corporate culture is therefore the consequence of decisions made in the past. Changing or even revoking these can be exhausting or even impossible. Just think of the beaten paths in a park – they acquire a raison d’être beyond the official channels, but once there, they’ll be used by all and are hard to remove.

The way I see it, company culture is a set of rules – both official and unofficial – that are expected to be followed the moment you join a company. However, sometimes you don’t really recognise the differences from the outside and what looks like the same set of rules works quite differently in one company than in another.

This makes it all the more important in the application process and beyond to have understood one’s own culture and to have communicated it properly to ensure the company and candidate really fit together. For the talents, it’s crucial to discover the hidden paths and unwritten rules of a corporate culture in order to neither be dazzled by the surface nor to get lost when searching for a future job.

Cathryn McGinty: Company culture is that central strand of DNA that should run through every aspect of your business. It’s in the tangible things like the communications you put out and the tone of voice you use in your messaging, but also in the intangible ones you can’t quite define. It’s an overall feeling and one that we’ve worked very hard to cultivate at Glitnor.

We’ve recently had a fantastic ENPS score – well into the 50s – and some of the comments we had in our employee satisfaction survey were really heartening too. If you charted it out in a word map, the term that came up most frequently would be “people” and that’s something we’re definitely focused on.

“..the ability to share a common culture is what unifies us as a team and enables us to collaborate together”

Nana Shneider, Human Resources Development at Betbazar

We put a lot of effort into engaging with our team members and making sure there’s open communication throughout the entire organisation. We genuinely don’t have much of a hierarchy and that’s something I really like about Glitnor – a lot of companies say it, but for us it really is true. Of course, we have enabling structures in place to support our growth aspirations, but at the end of the day we’re all here to work together and do a job and it doesn’t really matter what your job title is. 

We also have a really strong business heritage from our founders and I think that’s been a major part of helping us acquire top tier talent such as our new CEO.

Nana Shneider: Company culture is absolutely vital to any business. Not only does it shape the acquisition process in terms of the type of team that you’re looking to put together, but it also polishes that team as they develop and grow within your organisation.

In a nutshell, you might find the perfect candidate from a professional skills point of view, but if they don’t also reflect the values that are important to your business, it’s not going to be a good fit. It’s for precisely this reason that Betbazar places as much emphasis on an employee’s personality as we do their professionalism.

We look for candidates who have a flexible approach to work and a willingness to learn as they go. We’re all highly professional here, but we also seek to cultivate friendly relationships between our employees and I believe this is vital to cultivating a successful company culture.

At the end of the day, we work in a people-focused industry – and with the looming threat of many roles being replaced by programs like ChatGPT – the ability to share a common culture is what unifies us as a team and enables us to collaborate together.

“We have this agile mentality where we’re not afraid to try something and if it doesn’t work out, we hold our hands up and move on.”

Cathryn McGinty, Chief People Officer at Glitnor Group

CB: Whether it be helping your employees maintain a healthier work-life balance or ensuring they get the most benefit from their time in the office, can you tell us some of the ways in which your respective companies aim to provide an attractive culture and what values are important to you?

AD: In a competition where it’s usually about having the most beautiful office, the largest fruit basket or the best yoga offer at the workplace, I have perhaps a very German-sounding response – effectiveness and efficacy!

I sincerely believe that tangible effectiveness spreads everyone’s wings and that there’s no better driver than seeing one’s own ideas and work take off and begin to fly; especially when they result in a finished product which then successfully reaches the customer.

Our goal at Apparat is to create an environment that is determined by responsible actions, trust, shared values and appreciation. Aligning employees behind a common goal, honestly addressing problems and challenges, being transparent with one another and learning from failure – these are all essential parts of our DNA.

CM: I think at Glitnor it’s all about what we do differently. When you listen to our founders, they talk about the different approaches they’ve taken from a product and customer perspective and this entrepreneurial spirit also translates into how we treat our team members. Communication is something that’s on our radar at all times.

Whatever it is we’re doing, we’re always looking at ways to improve it and ensuring that we maintain this connectivity in a global workforce is a central arc of our comms strategy. We have this agile mentality where we’re not afraid to try something and if it doesn’t work out, we hold our hands up and move on.

By creating an environment where people are empowered to give things a go and there’s no fear of getting it wrong, if we do get something wrong, we fail fast, regroup, and immediately bounce back to continue developing a successful business.

“…we believe it’s important that every team member feels valued and respected, and that they are properly supported by senior management and team leaders”

Giorgi Tsutskirdze, Chief Commercial Officer at Spribe

That goes hand-in-hand with the entrepreneurial spirit I mentioned earlier with the leadership team having a strong pedigree in this respect. There’s a fantastic backstory that sits behind us and that forms a major part of our culture.

NS: At Betbazar we recognise that employees have a life outside of work and that the developments they make in a personal sphere are often equally as important as those they make in a professional one.

For this reason, we’re incredibly open to flexible working hours. If an employee finds a class or activity that can help them learn a new skill or maintain a healthier lifestyle, we fully support that and are more than happy to provide them with an extra hour or two outside of the office so that they can pursue these interests.

Of course, we also run our own activities and team building events outside of the office as well. I think in any social structure – be it a family or a group of individuals working together – we’re all led by example, so I think it’s very important that these events unite everyone in the company from the CEO down and allow us to get out and enjoy activities together.

Last year, we had a great training day on a yacht that was fantastic for shaping the team and letting people try different roles. Personally, that was a big inspiration for me to take on more responsibility. 

GT: It’s mission-critical that the Spribe team has a happy work-life balance. To ensure this, we hold regular team-building events, have Happy Friday each week and even run internal poker tournaments to boost team spirit and keep people motivated.

As well as having fun, we believe it’s important that every team member feels valued and respected, and that they are properly supported by senior management and team leaders. It’s also important for people to grow and develop, and that’s why we offer plenty of opportunities for learning and professional development.

This helps to make employees feel like they have a future with Spribe and that their position within the company is safe and secure.