The Ri5 interview:
Sharon Johal, GAME Digital


In some sectors, recruiting from a passionate audience of consumer-candidates is a fairly straightforward process. And in the case of video gaming giant GAME, this was true - but only to a point.

The firm was able to tap into a talent pool of engaged and energetic gamers primarily via its retail outlets, which until recently were the most visible and accessible part of the business. But, while it was able to staff its stores via this on-the-ground community, there were numerous other functions within the business that required a different approach when it came to sourcing talent.

That’s where GAME’s recently-launched community careers website comes in.

The website, put together by Basis Media, replaced GAME’s previous recruitment process, which essentially involved advertising roles on job boards and allowing candidates to apply via an email inbox. In the firm’s view this didn’t fully represent the range of opportunities on offer - nor, says Sharon Johal, HR and recruitment business partner, did it adequately reflect GAME’s employer brand or the community feel of the business.

Johal says: “There was no jobs website, and as a potential employer there was nowhere to showcase our talent or promote the multiple, varied strands of our business.

“Now, through the new site, we have much greater ability to encourage candidates to join our business. Our aim is to build the most valuable community of gamers. There aren’t many industries in which people can turn their passion into a career, but GAME offers that. Now, we want to take the business even further and balance the influx of passionate gamers with candidates for professional functions in the business.”

Johal is also keen to stress that a love of games certainly isn’t a prerequisite for candidates. She points out that GAME is far more than a retail business and is currently trying to grow talent across all functions, whether that’s in stores, distribution centres, head offices or Multiplay, an events-based business acquired by GAME earlier this year and which is now a key area of the company’s work.

Another crucial message the new site sets out to communicate is the progression available within GAME, regardless of where a candidate starts out.

Johal says: “There’s a huge number of success stories. We have lots of employees who’ve started as, for example, temporary sales assistants or as a volunteers in our events set-up, and are now in senior positions within the business. There’s a huge amount of opportunity at GAME and everyone is able to take ownership of their own career development and grow within the business.”

The launch of the site coincides with ambitious growth plans at GAME. The business currently employs around 3,500 people, but that figure can rise to around 6,500 including seasonal staff brought in to cover peak season.

Johal says: “To illustrate how the business is growing, just look at Multiplay as an example. When we acquired the business it had around 45 staff, and that’s already grown to 82 and we are on a drive to recruit a further 30 people in the next three months.”

Throughout the specification and build process for the new site, there was continuous consideration of how it would enable GAME to effectively engage with candidates. As a result, the site includes a bespoke ATS built by Basis Media, enabling a complete talent pipeline to be handled through the site. Johal also praises the data and reporting possibilities available through the new back-end, as well as a strong end-to-end onboarding process that it also enables.

Fundamentally, the site has progressed the business from its previous use of word-of-mouth sourcing to a full talent community and pipeline, enabling it to promote how talented people have benefited from the opportunities within the business.

And, Johal says, as far as the community is concerned, the numbers have been impressive.

“The site is really being treated by people as a community,” she says. “They’re visiting, creating avatars and profiles, and they keep coming back.

“On the launch day alone we had more than 2,500 visits, and that’s without any kind of PR or promotion at all. And to date we’re looking at data such as 62,000 users, 84,000 sessions, 370,000 page views – these stats are really impressive, and all the more so considering we haven’t specifically promoted it. 

“This is because of the strength of the passionate and loyal community – the members have helped us to spread the message.”

The site also has 8,500 registered users and has facilitated 1,460 applications to date - all within two months of launching. Johal points out that, in comparison to other websites of this nature, the numbers are very strong.

So, what are the next steps?

Johal says award entries are on the horizon, so expect to the see the site showcased at a glitzy ceremony sometime soon. And further promotion is also imminent, alongside potential forthcoming attraction and induction videos put together by Multiplay’s in-house production team.

She says: “Once the site is established, we will definitely focus on those videos as well as really striving to build the employer brand. We’re now working with people across the business – our copywriters, marketers, brand teams – to build on what’s already been achieved with the website and take it further. In addition, we want to recruit new and potential graduate talent and help them grow in an exciting and fascinating business.”

She adds: “We’re currently putting strategies into place that will enable us to become an employer of choice – we’ve already been an employer of choice for passionate gamers, but we want the same to be the case for people who may not be a gamer at heart, but who have drive and passion for a growing company .”

Finally, Johal underlines the ethos of the business and how it has driven the project.

“Our business is an ideas business,” she says. “That comes directly from the CEO; he says our people will be the ones who drive our business forward, and we find it works better that way for everyone.

“I truly believe in this – and the community we’ve built through the site is helping people to make that difference.”

Thursday, 29 October 2015

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The Ri5 interview: 
Sharon Johal, GAME Digital