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One of the rare industries that has boomed during COVID-19 is digital entertainment, making talent even scarcer than capital. In this exclusive, Priya Sunil finds out how Virtuos's Global HR Director, Minny Abels, is enhancing the way the company works to attract & retain talent.

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Industry Insider: Minny Abels, Global Human Resources Director, Virtuos
Sector spotlight: Games
Based in: Shanghai, China

The number one talent challenge this sector is facing

Competition for talent has existed since the start of the game industry. However, competition has become fiercer in recent years alongside the boom of digital entertainment. I would hence say that the top challenge would be the hiring and retaining of talent.

Developments that are intensifying this challenge

The game industry has grown rapidly and according to Newzoo, it will continue to do so and generate US$204.6bn by end-2023. The onset of COVID-19 in 2020 also accelerated its market growth, alongside consumers’ engagement and spending on games. We can therefore observe an overall increase of investments in game companies – both big and small – and a greater demand for talent with skillsets unique to the industry. In this case, talent can be scarcer than capital.

After hiring, training and retaining talent is also key to how companies improve their capabilities, services, and grow over time. Employers are constantly challenged to remain attractive in the face of competitors, especially against those specifically seeking out talent who are already skilled and trained. This is especially true in China, where there is a good number of companies that offer hefty employee compensation packages.

Best practices: Strategies that have worked in tackling this challenge

In the face of increasing competition, an overarching company purpose can help guide strategies, initiatives, and empower managers with more autonomy and confidence in their decision making.

Communicating the Virtuos purpose of 'we make games better, together' has formalised our culture, reason for being, and enhanced the way we work both internally and externally.

We also remain differentiated by our global portfolio of AAA games, strong client partnerships, and position at the forefront of game technology. To remain as the ideal partner for blockbuster game developers, we set up our Singapore headquarters and dedicated R&D centre back in 2018.

We are also invested in establishing ourselves as the primary choice for talent in the industry. At Virtuos, we commit to ensuring that everyone keeps learning and growing. Customised training and sharing sessions are available to employees from their first day of work to assure personal development. Job crafting exercises is another way we safeguard employees’ work to remain purposeful and meaningful over time.

To continuously enhance the Virtuos working experience, we also adopt an iterative review approach to our employee benefits and wellbeing initiatives.

While lockdowns since the first half of 2020 continue to affect ways of working, we found that our investment in technology and platforms paid off as processes largely remained the same during remote work. Solutions to digitally distribute, track, and review work were in place from before, and that enables our global team of over 2,000 employees to stay collaborative and connected. That is enhanced with transparent communication and an inclusive culture that enables work-life balance.

For instance, policies that go beyond state requirements include flexible work arrangements that support working parents at Virtuos, enabling them to take care of their families without impact on career advancement.

The next big priority for HR professionals in this sector

Remove silos and ensure that HR strategies are aligned to overall business goals – this enables the HR function to drive meaningful organisational change.

Leveraging HR analytics tools can help generate insights and help us make more accurate, data-driven decisions. And as the industry continues to evolve rapidly, we should continue training and developing employees to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness.

How CHROs are proactively preparing for the future workplace

In alignment with Virtuos’ purpose and values, we build the workplace of the future in three key areas. Firstly, we maintain a collaborative culture that encourages teamwork across our 12 offices and studios worldwide.

Secondly, we foster trust and strong partnerships amongst our employees and with our clients. We do that through an equal opportunity work environment, and the utilisation of the best tools and processes to produce secure, timely, and quality deliverables.

Lastly, we nurture a positive and socially responsible company. We are in the business of fun, creation, and believe that quality games deliver both value and positivity to both our employees and consumers at large.


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