Five steps to better employee retention

Not the way to do it.

Before the pandemic, employee retention was considered the second biggest challenge facing businesses, just behind the recruitment of talent. High employee turnover not only increases an organisation’s expenses, but also takes its toll on the business’s morale. Worse, the departing employee will often go to a competitor, turning your asset into theirs.

In 2016 LinkedIn conducted research into global recruiting trends, which revealed that 41% of respondents expected to remain in their current workplace for less than two years. 37% would stay for at least three years, while the remaining 22% were unsure how long they would stay in their current company. Their  ‘Why and How people Change Jobs’ study revealed the three main reasons workers tend to change jobs: 1) to take the next step in their careers; 2) a desire for more challenging projects; and 3) increased compensation.

To successfully improve retention rates, it is important to understand what is driving employee flight (e.g. benefits, compensation, engagement, communication, opportunity, culture etc). Once these have been identified it is possible to implement initiatives that can improve employee retention rates. Here are our top five tips.

1. Hire the right people for your culture

One of the first contributors towards improved retention rates revolves around hiring the right talent. When the bond between an employee and the business is strong and when this is combined with having the right skillset for a particular job requirement, improved retention is more likely to occur.

At this stage, information is key: 37% of hiring managers supported the idea that retention rates could have been improved if candidates were better informed about the role and the company’s culture during the hiring process.

We have written before about the benefits of using values-based interviewing to determine cultural fit. If a candidate’s values and motivations align with those of the company, there is likely to be a much more mutually-rewarding and longer-term relationship.

Last year, we were asked to estimate the retention rates of staff we had placed four years previously: when we checked back, 75% were with the same business. We are convinced that this is because we take the time to interview against both values and competencies, matching them with the client.

2. Empower your employees

Over the years more organisations are beginning to understand that giving more responsibility and power to employees is not only beneficial for the workforce but for the business as a whole. Employee empowerment is all about autonomy, accountability and trust. Empowered employees will tend to be more loyal, committed and more productive.

When workers are given both the tools and resources to manage their own projects, work toward their goals and drive their own career, the benefits can be endless. In fact, research has shown that employee empowerment is directly associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction and commitment to an organisation. (Seibert, SE, Wang, G, & Courtright, SH (2011). Antecedents and consequences of psychological and team empowerment in organizations: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 981–1003.).

In addition, allowing employees to have greater autonomy, responsibility and power can also instil greater trust in leadership, generate a better business work culture, improve employees’ motivation and allow more space for creative thought. It’s tough for some managers to let go, as Eleanor noted last year, but worth it in the long run.

3. Keep employees motivated through benefits and competitive salaries

One of the main reasons people tend to leave their job is due to unsatisfactory compensation. LinkedIn’s  ‘Why and How people Change Jobs’ study also revealed that 25% of Baby Boomers (51+ years of age), 29% of Generation X (36-50 years of age), and 40% of Millennials (18-35 years of age) are unsatisfied with their compensation and overall package.

There is a large range of mixed research regarding the influence of compensation on performance, motivation and job satisfaction. Some research suggests that greater compensation is correlated with greater performance, motivation and job satisfaction (Gardner et al. 2004); however, some research has also suggested that increased compensation impedes innovation and intrinsic motivation (Pfeffer et al. 1998).

The key to optimising motivation and performance while preserving innovation and intrinsic growth is creating a compensation scheme that is effectively competitive but that also allows room for advancement and progression. It is also important to be aware that money isn’t the only motivator: it’s worth investigating the motivations specific to your own employees. For instance, Pfeffer et al. (1998) found that workers are also motivated by operating in an intellectually stimulating and family-friendly environment.

4. Have leaders, not bosses

A ‘boss’ in this shorthand, is a top-down, command and control type, who separates themselves from their workforce. By contrast, a good leader has the following attributes:

They will define a clear direction for the future of the business and share this information directly with their employees. This will help ensure that the direction, attitude and performance of a team is consistently aligned with the business’ trajectory.

They should also be personally involved in facing the challenges that threaten an organisation rather than always delegating this responsibility to their employees. This will result in not only a better workflow, but also a culture of mutual respect between leaders and their reports.

Leaders should exhibit a genuine desire to provide value and take pride in their work. This will help motivate employees to perform according to the organisation’s standards and will also foster innovative and creative thinking.

Good leaders also understand the value of their workforce, appreciating the fact that employees are their most valuable asset. This will feed into employee empowerment and feeling of ‘belongingness’, which will significantly impact the team members’ job satisfaction and promote improved retention rates.

Last but not least, leaders should inspire confidence and act with integrity.

While bosses are seen as those giving orders, real leaders give vision and unity, and thereby improve their company’s culture and prosperity. Leaders should view management and leadership skills as open-ended projects and avoid resting on their laurels. Having effective leaders will directly play into employee engagement and motivation and will also significantly influence employee retention rates.

5. Promote internally

This may seem counterintuitive coming from an executive search business, but we understand the importance of improving businesses through people, and there is little that can be as demotivating to ambitious employees as exciting, high-level job opportunities consistently being sourced externally.

Of course, the needs of the business change, and there may not be any appropriate internal candidates for a given role. Nonetheless, we always encourage clients to coax their own team members to throw their hat in the ring. Even just engaging them in the process, benchmarking them against external candidates, and giving proper and constructive feedback (areas they could improve, suggesting training the company can give them and so on) is a highly motivational exercise.


Competition within an industry occurs at every level of a business. With better employee retention an organisation is more likely to be able to offer a better service and market them to a higher standard, so ensuring a greater chance of sustained success.

Sophia Garibaldi

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the mediainformationtechnologycommunications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

Xbox Series X / S vs Playstation 5, value for money?

Console yourself

Sony and Microsoft have finally released their next generation consoles. With retailers selling out faster than they can put units on sale, the launches appear to represent success for all. But do they?

On the one hand, Sony and Microsoft have succeeded in bringing new hardware to market on time, and have garnered quite a lot of positive coverage in the press and social media. On the negative side, there are stories citing widespread hardware and software issues, exclusive titles are scarce if present at all, and the cost of new games to the consumer has skyrocketed. So, are early adopters getting value for money, or paying a premium for unfinished games and hardware? Let’s take a look.


Let’s begin with a quick comparison between the three hardware components which are arguably going to make the most difference to gamers and developers. For now, we will just consider

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What no-deal Brexit means when hiring overseas workers

Amer Zaman, an immigration solicitor, who spoke with Martin Tripp about the effects of a no-deal Brexit on hiring..

He’s Zaman.

Both the EU and the British government have said that a no-deal Brexit is now the “most likely outcome”. Should this come to pass, one of the many challenges that businesses will face is that of employing overseas staff.

For the last forty plus years, UK businesses have been able to employ staff from EU members states with little fuss. On January 1st, when the transition period expires, that is all likely to change unless a surprise last-minute deal is struck.

So what does this mean for business? I spoke to Amer Zaman, founder of immigration solicitors Cranbrook Legal, to try to get some clarity on the issue.

The first couple of points we discussed were actually faintly reassuring. Firstly, existing EU employees in the UK will not be affected by the change, as long as they have registered under the EU Settlement Scheme (though this has been far from perfect). Second,

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The Gamification of Life and Commerce

Switching to new horizons

Like many facing the prospect of several weeks (so we thought) stuck at home, the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons seemed like the best-timed launch in the history of gaming. As James reported recently, gaming has fared exceptionally well these recent months. But Animal Crossing has distinguished itself as a cultural force. As lockdown went on and Zoom pub quizzes grew wearisome, Animal Crossing continued to be a place to reconnect with friends, but without the pressure of trying to find something new to talk about. Instead, visiting friends on their islands was a chance to do something fun with people again.

Since then, other games have grown in popularity. In particular, Among Us has become the rival for cultural dominance as the game that not only is everyone playing, but also talking about. I found the game through internet chatter and played just to understand what made it so worth talking about. While Animal Crossing became the new way to grab a coffee and relax with friends, Among Us became the new way to desperately lie to them in the name of fun (for those who have never played, the game is like a virtual version of Mafia, featuring blobby space people).

As we forged a sense of “new normality” over the summer, businesses restarted and began to re-strategize. As James discussed in his latest blog, some clear victors emerged, unsurprisingly, in e-commerce and online gaming. For more traditional retailers, the new strategy involved finding a way to pivot, often involving sharp transitions to ecommerce platforms, or else to piggy back on the victors of the lockdown economy.

The adaptability of Animal Crossing, in designing clothing, decorations, and the island itself, lends it to adaptability and use by a huge range of brands and causes. R/GA’s Head of Strategy Rachel Mercer has said Animal Crossing is such an ideal place for brands because of its clean and wholesome image. In the last nine months, product launches from banking to skincare, and fried chicken to designer clothing have found a place on the game.

Brands’ Animal Crossing islands offer in-game benefits, like custom makeup and clothing designs and high turnip prices, but others have even offered real life giveaways of face wash and discounts. For music fans, Gorillaz and Beck gave a virtual concert of “Valley of the Pagans,” from their new collaborative album, followed by an interview. And so while brands’ presence on the game is somewhat opportunistic invasion of the wholesome experience that Animal Crossing promises, there are benefits for the player to reap too.

Where collaborations with the game have been especially surprising are in the realm of politics. Most notably, Joe Biden launched his own island on Animal Crossing, with the goal of educating voters about his campaign and encouraging voter registration and turn out. Seemingly more successful, however, is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)’s arrival on the gaming scene. She started by joining players on Animal Crossing, going to people’s islands with her own avatar. Then, closer to election day, AOC joined several prominent gamers on a Twitch stream to play a few rounds of Among Us. How AOC’s strategy has differed from Biden’s, and most brands’, is her personal touch. She herself is a recognizable face playing with the game’s community to interact and get closer to voters.

Forgoing potentially enormous profits in brand collaborations, Nintendo and Animal Crossing have made the bold inclusion of a selection of new rules in their latest update. Most notably included are bans on “politics,” “marketing,” and “financial benefit,” meaning an end to much of new political and brand activity on the game. For players like me, this move feels like a major decision from Nintendo, a major games company, to value, rather than monetize, player experience.

Digitisation is an unstoppable trend in every industry, with covid just accelerating a runaway train. A McKinsey survey has found that the digitisation of services and products has advanced by the equivalent of  three to four years in the past few months. That same McKinsey survey found that “the organizations that experimented with new digital technologies during the crisis, and among those that invested more capital expenditures in digital technology than their peers did, executives are twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth than executives at other companies.” Stuart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, has said in a recent statement, ‘the opportunities for digital transformation are expansive and wide-ranging. Businesses that do it well will drive engagement, achieve organisational agility, maintain alignment and empower teamwork across all disciplines and locations. They will have a competitive advantage in this new era of work.’

But because these changes are inevitable, there is all the more reason to be cautious and considerate with them, or at very least, balance social benefit with financial gain. We spoke, early in lockdown, about how museums and other cultural institutions have made the shift to digital, and digital game platforms. This has continued, with museums now embracing Minecraft to digitise museum learning experiences. Arguably, this change is one of many inevitable digitisations expedited by Covid, one that meets young learners on a platform they may enjoy more with the result of better learning outcomes. Digital platforms circumvent some of the barriers that might normally prevent visitors to museums, including time and geography. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, digital transformation can be hugely positive.

With a new study from Oxford University finding a significant correlation between video game play and overall happiness – specifically on Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Plants Vs. Zombies – Nintendo’s decision feels especially important in these times. Rates of depression and anxiety are at all-time highs, and as benefactors and advocates of fun, video game companies stand to be natural allies to mental health causes. For a similarly worthy cause, Ukie, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, already demonstrates the value of video games, particularly with their recent #RaiseTheGame initiative to improve diversity and inclusion, involving every level of the industry, from students through to some of the most major companies in the industry. The underlying theme between them is to value the people, on both sides, of the video games community.

Like Nintendo, every company – from those with great success through to those facing the need for enormous transformation – must place their customers and community at the forefront. In business terms, this is the time to remember UX and CX, to find ways to help the customers who can then help you.


Eleanor Morum

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the mediainformationtechnologycommunications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

What headhunters look for in your LinkedIn profile

Get yourself a great profile

LinkedIn is the most dominant networking tool for professionals, offering a litany of tools and resources, including courses, networking opportunities, and helpful content from other professionals.

But it won’t be a surprise to know that it is also a useful tool for some recruiters. Many use it as an initial screening tool to identify potential candidates, and match them against the role they are working on.

Given the challenging market conditions at the moment, we thought it might be useful to lay out what recruiters find useful – in other words, the best way of getting your profile noticed.

Generally speaking, the strongest presences on LinkedIn are often marketing professionals. The skills needed to create a strong LinkedIn profile are the same needed in a digital marketing career. It can feel uncomfortable to ‘market’ oneself, but there are ways to do so without sacrificing personality or professionalism. In many ways, it’s just about knowing what to prioritise on your profile.

Job title and industry front and centre in your headline
Like any headline, this needs to draw your audience in. Your headline needs to communicate your skillset and experience clearly from a list of potentially hundreds of LinkedIn search results.

A really common trend is to replace your headline with ‘Looking for work,’ however, this may work against you depending on how a headhunter has found your profile. If your profile and headline have come up in a specific and refined Boolean search, ‘Looking for work’ can be compelling. However, in wider searches, or if your profile is suggested organically through any of LinkedIn’s algorithms, there is much less chance of clicking on to your profile.

My compromise suggestion is to keep your most recent title and company or industry, plus ‘looking for work’. The most important takeaway here is that the headline simply needs to be enough to get someone to click through to your profile.

Business-like photo
Although there are ways to show off personality on your profile, your photo should really reflect you in a professional capacity. Keep your informal pictures for other social media.

Recent updates
A clear indication on your LinkedIn profile of your most recent role and skills is key in understanding your profile, but also in determining how you can be contacted. If it look like you don’t update your profile regularly, people may assume that you won’t receive messages that are sent to you there either.

Summaries and keywords for previous positions
When a recruiter finds your page, the next step is to determine if you’re the right fit. When your profile lacks explanations about your responsibilities, recruiters have to use much cruder stats, like years of experience or number of roles, to guess at your level of experience. If you clearly lay out – or show off, whichever you like – your skills, especially in combination with years of experience, you can communicate much more about yourself, like your drive, ambition, and success.

Management responsibilities
It is amazing how many people fail to give a sense of their team management responsibilities in their profiles. Headhunters are often briefed to find people with, let’s say, ‘a minimum of five years’ experience running teams of ten people’. “Head of” or even “Director” does not tell the recruiter anything about your team management experience.

On top of being important statistics to know off the top of your head about yourself, it’s really helpful to have them laid out on your page. Of course, ultimately, management skills come down to more than just numbers, but consistent management experience is always a good sign.

Completed skills section
Much of the reason to fill out your profile is that it means you will get fewer calls about roles which are not suited for you at all. The skills section is a really efficient filter to show off skills, qualifications, and courses that deserve especial emphasis. Knowing immediately that a candidate has X programming language or Y project management qualification is a very fast way to determine suitability.

On this section, people tend to go one of two ways: neither entirely neglected, nor over-stuffed skill sections are especially helpful. An ideal skills section will comprise perhaps 10 to 15 core skills that colleagues and managers can vouch for. A balance of hard, technical, usually industry-specific skills and broader soft skills is ideal.

Personal email, or non-work monitored email
This tip circumvents the awkward step of trying to contact you through a work email or switchboard. Being able to immediately contact you with a clear idea of the role and the freedom to speak honestly is a real time saver both for the recruiter and the potential candidate.

This step has some risks, obviously, since anyone will be able to reach you. I would recommend possibly having a dedicated job hunt focused email, ideally as an off-shoot of your main email, so that it’s easy to access, but recruitment messages won’t get lost or clog up your inbox.

Your LinkedIn profile, it must be stressed, is not your CV, and they are not interchangeable. LinkedIn has many more openings to showcase a lot more about yourself. CVs should be tailored to the position being applied for. LinkedIn is the place for the full picture, and a handy tool for documenting your entire timeline, instead of the snippets selected for certain roles. For this reason, it is an incredibly useful resource for recruiters to learn about you and your potential fit to a role. However, should you be asked for a CV, it’s crucial that you then tailor your CV to the position.

Ultimately, LinkedIn won’t make or break any hiring decisions at the crucial final stages, but if you can market yourself well on the platform, you may find many more opportunities coming your way.

Good luck!

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the mediainformationtechnologycommunications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog. 

Winners and losers in e-commerce

Click and collect

The Coronavirus Pandemic has seen a startling change in consumer behaviour trends. Facilitated by advancements in mobile technology, site design, online payment methods and a maturity in digital marketing techniques from social to affiliate, it is common knowledge that e-commerce figures and online traffic have been steadily increasing for years. The figures for 2020 however, are startling. Whilst many of us already use the Amazons of the world with some degree of regularity, coronavirus has driven customers out of the high street and online in their droves. In January 2020, online retail sites generated 16.07bn global visits. By June 2020, this figure had ballooned to almost 22bn, a 35% YOY increase.

So who are the winners and who the less fortunate?

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Smart cities and smart thinking: the Middle East’s tech on the rise

No middling tech

We are now entering a new digital era: the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR). Suffice to say, technology evolves every day and changes the world along with it. Huge strides in technological innovation are made to meet and further propagate demands for faster information, transformation, and increased agility in both our professional and personal lives.

The First Industrial Revolution harnessed the power of water and steam; the Second, electric power; the Third, electronics and information technology to drive automation and efficiency. Building on its predecessor, this Fourth and current phase is

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How to succeed in e-learning

Send more post-it notes

Anyone who has looked at the news over the past few weeks will have seen interviews with miserable-looking freshers, forced to isolate in halls of residences, wondering whether they’ll be allowed home for Christmas, and placing plaintive (and often hilarious) messages in their windows. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of universities are announcing they are suspending face-to-face teaching. As exciting as university can be, you can’t really blame the students for wondering what they’re doing there, especially with so much teaching being done online right now.

You don’t need to have read Ellie’s excellent piece on the e-learning sector (although, seriously, you should) to realise that the e-learning and edtech sectors are experiencing a boom right now, and businesses targeting higher education are at the forefront. As the CEO of one start-up told me the other week – “we’ve gone from a minority sport to being absolutely front and centre of every institution’s strategic thinking”.

It’s not just domestic students who need to be catered for. For years, western university systems have been financially heavily reliant on international students. That flow hasn’t quite

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E-learning trends 2020


Unsurprisingly, the e-learning industry is experiencing a major boon at the moment. Returning to schools, universities, and even offices is hotly debated, and e-learning is a clear safe alternative. But even before March, edtech was on a steep upwards trajectory. In 2017, Forbes predicted that by 2020 the global e-learning market would increase 36% from 2015 (USD$107bn to approximately USD$146bn).

As for why, e-learning has several advantages over its classroom equivalents. Firstly, microlearning (a subset of e-learning) accommodates shorter attention spans, a common concern for the more tech-savvy audience that e-learning caters to. In the same vein, its availability on mobile platforms makes learning easier to fit around other responsibilities and on-the-go and is thereby more efficient than classroom learning. E-learning’s use of graphics caters especially well to visual learners, who are estimated to make up the majority of the population. Gamification, a trend we reported last year, holds attention much longer than passive learning styles. Finally, e-learning is believed to provide longer-lasting lasting results. Typical face-to-face training expects retention rates of about 8-10%, while e-learning retention rates

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Return to theatres

A theatrical entrance

This week I went to the theatre. You read that correctly. Some six months since the coronavirus pandemic forced theatres around the globe to lower their curtains and close their doors, I stepped into Regents Park Open Air Theatre for a performance of their great revival, Jesus Christ Superstar.

The irony was not lost on me. This was the very same revival, in the same venue, with many of the same cast and musicians I watched some four years ago, while I was undergoing chemotherapy. I survived, and as I sat there amongst the socially distanced audience, engulfed by that same intoxication only a live performance exudes, I found myself utterly convinced that theatre will survive too.

Even though it was an outside performance, the same strict protocols you’d expect inside remained: facemasks throughout the performance were mandatory; audience members were mostly 

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The value of values-based interviewing

Getting to know you

Across industry, companies have naturally become more apprehensive about recruitment processes during the lockdown. Earlier this month, MTA conducted an industry survey to explore how business leaders felt about remote hiring and onboarding. We found that the majority of companies across the media, information, technology and entertainment sectors are still making hires during the pandemic. However, 69% of leaders were found to be less confident when hiring and onboarding new team members.

This is understandable: hiring and onboarding have been converted to online practices with the use of virtual meetings for interviewing, induction and mentoring. But according to our recent survey, a staggering 75% of business leaders are concerned about using such remote tech to assess candidates’ abilities to work as part of a team, and 72% were worried about candidates’ wider cultural fit within the business.

Constraints foster innovation, and the constraints imposed by covid-19 have shone a light on the importance of values-based interviewing. When we cannot meet face-to-face to understand

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‘In these uncertain times’: the state of the information sector

Computer says ‘yes’

In what has been, to put it mildly, an extremely challenging year for businesses right across the media, one part of the industry has continued to perform strongly – the subscriptions-based information sector. Our conversations from across the market have revealed CEOs and other business leaders reporting better than expected results for the period of lockdown, but also taking nothing for granted about the future.

In many ways, this is unsurprising: subscription revenues are solid and predictable and most are tied up in annual contracts at the very least. But many still sell on a per-seat basis, and if clients are making widespread redundancies, they may also be looking to downscale their commitment.

So far, though, this appears not to be the case. The CEO of one data provider, which sells information on an industry that has taken a hammering during the pandemic, told me: “even though there’s a lot of

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Can the creative industries help restart the economy?

Lights, camera, benefaction.

Our friends at Olsberg SPI – the creative industries strategy consultancy – have published a fascinating report which illustrates how the screen production industry could play an instrumental role in post-Covid economic recovery.

The argument is sound: direct economic benefit (effectively production costs) from the industry were $177bn globally in 2019. But that only accounts for around two fifths of the overall economic benefit, Olsberg estimates. Last year, the industry supported or indirectly contributed to 14m jobs, and $414bn into global coffers.

Our offices, when we can use them, are in Gray’s Inn in central London. It, and other nearby locations, are popular sites for filming: you’ll have seen them in everything from The Children Act to Oliver. When cast and crew descend, for some weeks at a time, cafes, barbers, supermarkets, and numerous other businesses benefit from the increased activity. A study on one (very high budget) film showed that an additional $10m per week was being spent in the locality. In now largely deserted city centres, their presence would be particularly keenly felt.

Amanda Nevill – CEO of the BFI for 17 years until stepping down this year, and now an adviser to Olsberg – talked in our Business People podcast this month about watching the credits at the end of a film: “all of those credits are individuals who have jobs, and what is so fantastic about our industry  is… there is a job for every skill imaginable: from marketing and finance, to nail technicians, hair, drivers, caterers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians.”

The magic of screen production is that it can be rapidly deployed and make its positive impact quickly. The UK government has talked about

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Is Apple entering the on-demand cloud video games arena?

Is Apple entering the on-demand cloud video games arena? Image of iphone, google stadia, and Xbox

Giving the gamers away?

It’s the question everyone is asking: is Apple entering the on-demand cloud video games arena? Or did they just force gamers to ditch iPhone and iPad for Android?

I write this as an Apple user of more than 20 years, with a passion for the games industry which spans a lifetime. There is much to be said for a desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and even a watch that work seamlessly together, take significant steps to look after user data, and allow access not just to Apple’s selection of software and services but also to those developed by third parties. In the days when I was co-developing and testing apps, it was also significantly easier to release a stable product on iOS, because the majority of Apple’s devices share a unified interface. Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry were a minefield of differing screens, button layouts and processors. So, if you’d asked me any time before last week whether I’d move from iOS to Android, the answer would have been an unequivocal ‘No.’

A lot can change in a week…

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Report from the museum

Reunite at the museum

For the first time since early March, I bought a ticket for an exhibition last week. And weirdly, the experience wasn’t as weird as I was expecting. I bought a timed entry ticket the night before and remembered my mask. I was greeted outside the Barbican’s entrance and given a run-through of the direction to go and how the exhibition worked. Beyond that, the exhibition felt as normal. Everyone wore masks, of course – which now also feels normal.

There were arrows on the floor to guide people through the exhibition, but really that only felt like a formalization of a rule that’s always been there. In one respect, I liked the arrows as reassurance that I hadn’t missed any room or section of the exhibition. Frustrations with other visitors hovering too long were the same, but now, at least justified. At the end, I did rush past the tiny café and shop area, feeling that I was pushing my luck for spending that length of time indoors with strangers already.

While in the exhibition, I generally felt safe, like there was enough distance between me and others. Although it felt well-attended, I also didn’t struggle to find a space in every room for my own 2-meter bubble. Even a week before mask requirements came into effect in museums, I didn’t notice a single person not wearing one. As a result, my time in the exhibition was much less anxiety-provoking than the bus trip there.

Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum in London has said, “When people visit the museum over the next few months they are going to get a fantastic VIP experience because they will be able to see things without so many people around them,

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Business People Podcast – Amanda Nevill interview

Amanda Nevill was CEO of the British Film Institute for 17 years, stepping down earlier this year, and in 2015 was awarded the CBE for services to the film industry.

In this podcast, she talks to us about the changing face of the film industry, preserving a creative culture in the UK, diversity in the sector, and the influence of the rise of SVOD platforms. Amanda also looks forward to the return of screen production after the pandemic, how new business models will work for the cinemas, and government measures to protect the the recovery of the UK’s film and TV industries.

Among other things, Amanda now acts as an adviser to Olsberg SPI, a strategy consultancy for the creative industries. For their fascinating report on the impact the TV and film production industry might have on global economic economic recovery, which we discuss in the podcast, please click here.

The Business People podcasts are designed to give business leaders across the media, information, technology and entertainment sectors insight into how other businesses are coping with the challenges of a changing world.

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Media in the Middle East: the relentless rise of digital

Silica valley

Media consumption has changed dramatically around the world over the last few years. The increasingly integral role that smartphones and portable devices play in our personal and professional daily lives has driven a digital revolution.

Nowhere in the world has digital adoption been quicker than in the Middle East. Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE, for instance, now rank among the top countries in the world with 100% smartphone penetration and more than 70% social media adoption, figures which exceed those of the United States. This can largely be attributed to the fact that one third of MENA’s (Middle East and North Africa) population is under the age of 15, and a further one in five are aged between 15 and 24, making the region one of the world’s most youthful populations.

This has impacted and increased internet use across the region. In 2016 mobile internet in MENA accounted for

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Remote hiring and onboarding: survey shows managers receive no training

  • The majority of companies across the media, information, technology and entertainment sectors are still hiring during the pandemic.
  • But 69% of business leaders are finding it difficult to onboard new team members remotely.
  • The vast majority of managers (72%) have received no training in distanced interviewing, on-boarding or remote management.

Left in the dark.

Earlier this month we conducted an industry-wide survey of how business leaders were approaching the process of recruitment and onboarding during lockdown. We surveyed business leaders across a wide range of sectors – including consumer media, business media, research and information providers, education and training businesses, software providers and entertainment companies.

While the pace of hiring has slowed, organisations are still recruiting in key positions

We found that 69% of respondents were still making some hires, although the remainder had stopped recruiting altogether. 41% were recruiting less than they had been before the pandemic, and 24% said their pre-lockdown plans were unchanged. A small number – 3% – were actually recruiting more than previously, largely

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Different thinking: cognitive diversity and unconscious bias

They know something you don’t.

Unconscious biases are defined as learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained, and influential on behaviour. Whether we realise it or not, unconscious biases thrive within our society to the point that they affect the most common decisions we make. More and more studies have demonstrated that decision-making processes in the workplace are subject to subconscious interference, and usually the worst affected are those who believe themselves free from bias. Hiring processes, promotions, and legal protection, though they should be approached with pure objectivity, are subject to various levels of discrimination, whether on the grounds of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, age, status or disability.

A different diversity

However, having team members of varying ethnicity, age and gender does not necessarily make a team diverse. In

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The real cost of removing Huawei from the UK 5G roll-out

Huawei: the lads

Last week the government took the decision to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network. Whatever the reasons for the decision, no real attempt has been made to count the cost of this move.

We should stress that none of what follows is an argument for the inclusion of Huawei in the 5G network. There are any number of issues around that, from security to ethics. This is just a short attempt to delineate some of the potential economic consequences of the decision to first include, and then exclude, the company from the UK’s mobile infrastructure.

We think there are four principal ways of accounting for the economic impact.

  • The actual cost of removing and replacing Huawei kit from both existing and future networks.
  • The cost to the UK digital economy of an estimated three year delay in roll-out of 5G.
  • The likely cost of an out-and-out retaliatory trade war such as China is now signalling.
  • The costs to the UK’s economy of a weak position in future trade negotiations.
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Corporate technology at home; balancing privacy and productivity

Managing from home

My webcam is covered with a googly eye, but I’ve seen band aids, sparkly butterfly stickers, and purpose-made spyholes with sliding covers. For millennials and Gen-Zs, the idea of someone on the other side of the camera of every device we own is something of a given, to say nothing of the security of our personal data. For us, invasion of personal privacy by internet giants via our technology has been something to adapt to rather than eradicate.

But the pandemic has pushed many more of us to consider how closely we are being watched in a new sphere. Forced to work from home, many of us have brought corporate technology into our homes for the first time. And with many hailing ‘the death of the office’, it may be here for some time.

The supposed death of the office brings some benefits: less wasted time – both on the commute and at people’s desks, improved employee retention, and company savings on office space. Contrary to Boris Johnson’s belief that working from home is a ‘skiver’s paradise’, a Stanford study found that workers at home were 13% more productive

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The games industry: diversity challenges, and solutions

Image of diversity and inclusion in games industry gamertag

Game Pride

It has been a turbulent few weeks of diversity and inclusion challenges in the video games industry: Laura Bailey received death threats for playing Abby in The Last of Us Part 2the game streaming site Twitch started banning users following protests about abuseand Ubisoft – one of the worlds biggest and most successful games studios – saw a number of key staff and executives step down over sexual misconduct allegations. 

But should we be surprised? Whilst parts of the industry are leading real, positive change around diversityinclusion and positive culture, there is still enormous room for improvement in the culture of many parts of the games industry.  

Earlier this year, interactive entertainment association Ukie published the results of its diversity census. 3,200+ games industry workers took part (which equates to roughly 20% of the overall workforce). Of those: 

  • Only 10% of people working in video games are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).  
  • 21% of people working in video games are LGBTQ+, while 79% are heterosexual. 
  • 70% of people working in the video games industry are male, compared to 28% female and 2% non-binary workers.  
  • Female representation in the video games workforce is significantly under the national average of those in work. 

Late last year, Currys PC World also released the results of their report into diversity within the games industry. Amongst other things the report revealed “a distinct bias in favour of the young, white, straight male.” Is it any wonder, when such a high percentage of its workforce is made up of them? 

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Big data trends 20/21

BAD times.

Using data and analytics in efforts to digitise and transform business models is not a new phenomenon. Many of the most recognisable brands and companies today have relied on big data to transform and elevate their status and business model. Take Netflix, for instance. Netflix started as a DVD rental company in 1997 and, since its shift to a cloud streaming service, boasts an estimated 182.8m subscribers with a market capital of over $200bn.

While it’s been a trend for some time, it’s still on the rise. And quickly. By 2022, Gartner expects that 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency. To ensure that your business is keeping up with the latest in big data, here are five trends that we expect to continue throughout the second half of 2020 and into 2021.

The increasing demand for Data Scientists and Chief Data Officers (CDOs)

The Harvard Business Review predicted in 2012 that the role of Data Scientist would be the sexiest job of the 21st Century. Has their prediction come true; is it sexy? You can decide that one, but it’s certainly lucrative.

More businesses are uncovering the value

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Business People Podcast – Sandeep Saujani interview

The aim of the Business People series of podcasts is to explore how businesses, and the people that run them, are coping with the challenges of a changing world: the Covid-19 pandemic, changes in technology, expectations of staff and customers, and all things human.

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Sandeep Saujani, CEO of Contentive Media, for the “How to Stage a Virtual Conference” blog. The conversation was much wider ranging than just about virtual conferences: we talked about the future of his business, socially distanced working, how changing working habits will impact people’s interaction, and the future of media among other things. All neatly edited into 27 minutes.

I hope you enjoy it.

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How to stage a virtual conference

Distance learning

Covid-19 has put a stop to face-to-face events for now, and this has hit many companies hard financially. But over the last few months, we’ve been impressed by the innovation and agility of businesses that have transformed their events into virtual experiences, keeping them central to their communities.

One such business is Contentive, who have run the HRD Summit for the past fifteen years, taking the whole thing online this year. The event brings together senior HR and people leaders to discuss their challenges, with a particular focus on the future of work. We were invited to join to see how it all worked, and afterwards I interviewed Contentive CEO Sandeep Saujani.

He gave a fascinating insight into how the conference was conceived and run, and talked eloquently about the pros and cons. We thought it would be helpful

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Remote hiring and onboarding: an MTA survey

We want to hear your thoughts.

We would like to invite you to participate in our industry-wide survey on socially-distanced, remote hiring and onboarding. We’re interested in your views whatever your circumstances, and whether or not you have been involved in hiring or onboarding new team members.

Over the past few months, we’ve spoken to hundreds of business leaders to find out how they’ve been coping and adapting. Many of you have had a hugely challenging time, with revenues hit, staff furloughed and redundancies made. Others have seen more resilient revenue streams, or a sudden increase in demand. If anything, we’ve been surprised how many organisations have continued hiring at various levels throughout the pandemic. But the question of how they’re hiring perhaps hasn’t received as much attention.

Nearly all of that recruitment has needed to take place over video conferencing, including for senior team members. For many businesses,

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Psychometric tests and quality recruitment

Thinking outside the box-ticking

At all levels, recruitment can be costly and time-consuming. As such, employers understandably aim to maximise the benefits and minimise the frequency of the recruitment process. For the same reasons, improved staff retention is one of the highest priorities for our clients. For recruiters too, it is a sign of a successful hire, since strong retention strategy starts at the recruitment phase when companies look for compatible values in candidates alongside role-related skills.

Core competencies are the focal point during most recruitment processes, tested through competency-based interview techniques or by the assignment of practical projects. However, an increasing number of companies, particularly larger ones, have started

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Dark times for theatre unless government acts fast

UK theatre Coronavirus

An empty stage

• Two thirds of performance venues have lost over 70% of revenues, our survey shows

• Government help covers less than 30% of those losses, 87% of venue leaders say

It is clear that the UK is about to suffer a severe recession. But some industries will be hit much harder than others. We have conducted a survey of CEO’s and leaders of theatres and performing arts businesses, and the results are shocking.

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Habit: a formula for success in tricky times

A roadmap to success…

Over the last few weeks we have had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of business leaders to understand how they are adapting to the current crisis. These range from global corporates to early stage start-ups across media, information, technology and entertainment – or MITE. Even with such a broad range of organisations, there’s a common thread that unites them.

It sort of works as an equation – and though it may not offer a panacea, it may be a predictive shorthand for which companies will come out of the crisis strongest.

We think you can boil it down to this: Community + Content + Delivery = Habit.

(Reductive, we know: but this is a blog, not a book, and we only have a thousand words.)

First, let’s start with the right-hand side of the equation: the answer.


All MITE businesses depend on habit. We need people to have

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Unreal Engine 5 and the future of games and film tech

Whether you realise it or not, you probably already know Epic GamesUnreal. It is the engine behind ‘The Mandelorian’ on Disney+ and a plethora of games on mobile, PC or console.

Epic’s latest iteration of the engine – Unreal 5 – was revealed this week. Via a tech demo running in real time on a Playstation 5 dev kit, the world finally got its first look at what the future of gaming really looks like. Along with many, I witnessed something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid, and something I’ve been hearing about a lot, lately.

Screen shot of Unreal 5 tech demo

Epic Unreal 5 Tech Demo

I have spent the last couple of years talking to games industry leaders around the world. Our conversations have covered everything

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