In November 2022 SOFTSWISS, a leading full-service tech provider for iGaming, was recognised as ‘Workplace of the Year’ by SiGMA Europe. Today the company runs five offices with 1,400 employees working from 30 countries. Yulia Oncheva, Сhief HR Officer at SOFTSWISS, shares how to effectively manage the HR department and attract and retain talent to amplify the success of an IT company in iGaming.
You used to manage HR departments in FMCG, banking and agriculture. What is different in building HR processes and creating a comfortable, productive work environment for a technology company?
The pace of IT progress affects all business subdivisions, including HR. The functions of my team at SOFTSWISS are similar to those I used to manage before, but the timeframes are incomparable. For instance, at SOFTSWISS, it took only a couple of months to launch a corporate English learning platform and prepare everything for our global event for 1,000 employees. These are incredible timeframes for a company as large and diverse as we are.
You worked in the Netherlands, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. What international HR trends can you highlight among major business players – and which trends do you integrate at SOFTSWISS?
Diversity has been trending in HR for years to grow into DEIB (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Belonging). Well-being is another cornerstone, especially now that employees are exhausted by the coronavirus and forced relocation due to unsafe living conditions in some countries. I would also mention virtual recruitment. We could hardly imagine hiring people three years ago without meeting them in person.
I’ve just returned from a London workshop for women in iGaming. Around 200 female executives from the US, Canada and Europe spoke about the unwillingness of employees to return to offices. At SOFTSWISS, we offer the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world or from our offices, the number of which we are gradually extending. In fact, we are the trendsetters in location flexibility.
Today, SOFTSWISS offers remote or office work opportunities in Poland, Georgia, Belarus and Malta. What challenges do you face in building HR processes for a cross-border team?
The most important task is to establish communication. We use our internal communication tool to keep our colleagues updated. Much emphasis is placed on managers and HR business partners, as they bear the primary responsibility for internal communications.
This year, the company has grown to 1,400 employees. Could you share some tips on optimising HR processes amidst the rapid growth of client and product portfolios?
Two things are essential here: automation and feedback. The company invests heavily in HR process automation and chooses the best solutions globally. What concerns feedback, all HR processes, initiatives and activities are based on business requests, which, in turn, are based on client feedback, needs and wishes of our employees.
Speaking of recruitment, what distinguishes candidates applying for a job in a technology company? What are the hardest roles to fill?
The hardest roles to fill are the technical ones. The demand for niche experts working with rare stacks always remains strong. They can only be attracted by exciting projects and super-qualified managers and colleagues. And we can certainly guarantee that.
What are the specifics of recruitment in Malta?
Malta is a hub and one of the key gambling locations, with hundreds of companies and thousands of employees. Here we speak of brand awareness, opportunities to meet counterparties and partners and to find valuable talent.In Malta, we seldom see natives among applicants. Most candidates are expatriates from Portugal, Turkey and the Baltic states, seeking business or top positions rather than technical ones.
Attracting talent is important – but retaining it is critical. What helps you retain talent at SOFTSWISS?
Firstly, it is the care for our employees and their development, both personal and professional. Besides standard benefits such as health insurance and sports, our employees can study English online for free and participate in conferences and trade fairs worldwide. In March, we launched a mental health support programme. Employees can choose a specialist to seek professional assistance with any concern. This is a great help in our turbulent times, and we receive much positive feedback for this initiative.
Secondly, it is active recreation together. SOFTSWISS has established an effective remote work system, with daily communication taking place mainly online. The headcount is expanding, so we held a global company gathering in Dubai to give the team the opportunity to meet, communicate and ask questions to management.
Over four days, 1,000 employees participated in team-building activities, explored the city, and relaxed. Everyone could approach our C-level and SOFTSWISS founders during the traditional informal meeting. The pinnacle event was a big gala dinner at the foot of the Burj Khalifa with the SOFTSWISS Stars talent show.
You joined SOFTSWISS in spring 2022 and in November the company was recognised as ‘Workplace of the Year’ at the SiGMA Europe awards. Why do you think SOFTSWISS was the winner?
The company has shown excellent growth over the past year. We take the workspace setup very seriously. All our offices are furnished with top-notch equipment and have cosy spaces for working, socialising, and networking.
People are SOFTSWISS’ backbone and main asset– Yulia Oncheva
Our employees can work from home or from the office. That’s why our geographical coverage is so impressive: Georgia, Poland, Malta, Belarus, Lithuania, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the Netherlands, Thailand, Estonia, Mexico, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
People are SOFTSWISS’ backbone and main asset, so we invest maximum resources so that the team as a whole and each employee in particular would feel satisfied and rewarded financially and emotionally.
What benefits does SOFTSWISS offer? What tailor-made projects do you implement to enhance the quality of employee interaction and improve the company’s performance?
We offer the opportunity to work for a successful and fast-growing technology company, an industry leader, side by side with world-renowned experts. Flexible relocation is another biggest advantage. 100 per cent remote work is what our employees and candidates value a lot. But that doesn’t mean we don’t meet in person. We have a good tradition of holding fruitful talks for teams in different countries, during which employees can approach C-level with their questions, concerns, ideas or suggestions in an informal atmosphere over a glass of fruit smoothie.
What are your plans for improving HR performance in 2023?
The HR projects planned for this year are super-ambitious. To implement them, we need a strong HR team that works well internally and externally. We will continue to reinforce our HR function, which currently consists of three units: Centre of Expertise with experts in talent acquisition, total rewards, talent development and culture, international mobility and events; HR Business Partners are the main points of contact for employees, through whom we learn the needs of all employees and who implement and support HR initiatives proposed by the HR Centre of Expertise; and HR Shared Services provides support from the labour law perspective.
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