tombola’s Louise Bennison has a one-word job description on her business card – Culture. It’s an unusual job title, but it’s fitting for an employee who is making a difference in such a unique role.
“My job is about creating an environment – a culture – where people want to come to work, where they love what they do and they’re proud to work for tombola,” she explained.
Bennison joined the Sunderland-based online gaming giant four years ago after studying a communications and PR degree at Northumbria University and working in local radio.
“I joined the marketing team as maternity cover and never left. I’ve always loved working for the company so when the opportunity came up to be involved with making tombola an even greater place to work, I was very excited about what could be done and the impact it could have.
“I started in my newly-created role about a year ago and in that the time it has evolved massively. My role encompasses retention, talent growth and internal communications.
“We’re a tech company who creates online games and about 70% of our Sunderland team are working in, or on, tech. In terms of recruitment, the IT and digital sector is very competitive, particularly here in the north east, so it’s important for us to be recognised as a good employer, somewhere you can build a career and want to be.
“We’re working on exciting projects that people at all levels working in the tech sector would be interested in – we also have a smart, inspiring team that people in the tech scene want to work with and learn from.”
As with other companies, one way in which tombola gauges staff attitudes and satisfaction is through an annual survey.
“Our surveys are a temperature gauge of how people feel – we take the survey results seriously and respond to what we’re being told as best we can. We read every response we receive and have an appetite to improve,” she explained.
A great practical example of this came with the introduction of flexible working: “We were being told this was important to our teams, so we looked at it closely and introduced it across the whole group, not just in the UK.
“Phil (Cronin, tombola’s CEO) recorded a video that went out to our teams explaining how flexible working would be introduced and some guidelines. It works well because it’s built on trust.”
Another area of focus for Bennison is rewarding and recognising the efforts of the tombola team. She said: “We have monthly appreciation days to say thank you to our teams for their work. There’ll be a day every month when we might leave a little gift or a one-line message on people’s desks just to say thank you.”
James Beard, tombola’s chief operating officer, recognises both the importance of the role and the impact it has had already: “Louise has given us a greater understanding of what is important to our people and has improved internal communications. The introduction of flexible working has had a big impact and is a great example of us listening to what people want and then reacting positively.
“We understand that our perks – like free breakfast, lunch and snacks from our café – and our facilities are important but they are not enough on their own to create job satisfaction.”
The company currently employs more than 350 staff in the UK and 70 across Italy, Spain and Gibraltar. It has one of the region’s largest tech teams – unlike many other online gaming companies, tombola’s own designers and developers create all the games for its popular and successful website and apps.