G2E: Gaming companies, facing competition, offer creative benefits to attract talent Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports · October 7, 2021 at 6:30 pm In January 2020, Penn Interactive-Barstool Sportsbook had approximately 40 employees. Less than two years later, the digital arm of Penn National Gaming has increased its ranks ten-fold to 400, with more workers being sought. Talent-acquisition manager Ashley Pastino said the company is hiring across the board, from customer-service reps and front-end and site-reliability engineers to product managers. It would be simpler if Penn Interactive – Barstool Sportsbook were vying only with other gaming operators for talent. But the company also competes with Google, Microsoft, and other tech companies for new employees. “We’re seeing candidates get three offers by the time we get to them,” Pastino said Wednesday during the panel discussion “Talent Challenges: How to Find and Develop Good Staff in a Brave New World,” at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. “Not having to take off work and go into the office, they can be a little bit more selective with their interviews.” The tilt in favor of employees has caused companies to expand the scope of their recruitment strategies. IGT Vice President of Global Talent Management Mariangela Battista said her team still manages to find “great talent.” But the scope of IGT’s recruitment strategy has expanded. “We’re not just looking at our headquarters locations and the talent there,” Battista said. “We’re looking more globally and more remotely, which actually helps us gather talent.” Companies have also had to expand the benefits and perks offered to employees. Moderator Stephen Shapiro, who teaches at American University, Washington College of Law, asked if traditional enticements, such as corner offices and large starting salaries, still matter. They do not. “What employees are looking for is the kind of work that they do,” Battista said. “Engaging work, great employees to work with, a culture that focuses on growth and development. We focus on the entire picture, not just the compensation component.” But prospective employees still ask – and sometimes demand – certain perks, ranging from yoga classes and mental-health days to one standby from the past, stock options. Among other benefits, Penn Interactive-Barstool Sportsbook offers its worker an $80-per-month Uber Eats credit, on-site massages, and $300 per year to use for gym equipment or memberships. “The biggest thing, if they’re asking about health benefits, is paid parental leave,” Pastino said, adding that providing mental-health resources also is essential. New-employee development has also changed and not only because of the pandemic. New employees resist traditional training. Pastino says Penn Interactive-Barstool Sportsbook employs a 70-20-10 model. “We have 70 percent around the experiential, 20 rounds of coaching and mentoring, and 10 percent of formal training programs,” Pastino said. Hiring new employees is one issue. Just as problematic is retaining them. Many new workers are upfront about wanting to explore different types of work. Employers, concerned about investing in new workers only to see them leave after a few years, have to devise new retention strategies. “We’ve had to focus a lot more on communication, making sure that we continue to stay engaged with employees,” Battista said. “Making sure they have a connection to the organization.” Rege Behe is lead contributor to CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please follow @RegeBehe_exPTR on Twitter.