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Gambling in the workplace – is it a problem?

By Victoria Brown

By Victoria Brown

In her latest blog, Victoria discusses gambling in the workplace and how to spot the red flags.

This week is ‘Safer Gambling Week’, the aim is for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to highlight the regulated industry’s commitment to safer gambling.  It just reminded me of the importance of this topic in the workplace and what we should be considering as Employers.

As many as 18% of Adults in the UK gamble online at least once a month.  More than 82% of British Adults think that gambling and debt can be a distraction for people in work.  There are no laws to stop employees using your business laptops and mobile phones to place a bet.  This is worrying, given the amount of home working we now have in the country since the pandemic.  The good news is you can protect your business through your policies;

  • Employment contracts may restrict computer usage to business only.
  • An Internet monitoring policy that makes staff aware that you are monitoring their browsing activities in work.

You may want to go one step further and draft a specific Gambling policy.  It is important that you engage with your HR and IT partners for this, as you are able to block workers from accessing betting sites.  This can all be included in your internet usage policy.  It is interesting that not many businesses and HR leaders take gambling in the work-place serious enough.  More than 85% of businesses in the UK have alcohol and substance misuse policies, but less than 5% have a policy for gambling.

Sadly, we can put all the measures in place to try and prevent gambling, but it has been described in HR over recent years as the ‘hidden addiction’.  With symptoms being harder to spot. Here are some red flags;

– Employee productivity levels drop

– Appear withdrawn, distracted

– Absence levels have increased

– Longer lunches, late for work/early darts

– Being secretive with monitor screen, shutting down when someone walks passed etc.

– Mood changes – appear irritable, poor concentration.

– Money problems – asking for advances on wages/lending money from colleagues

Addiction is very serious, and we are not the experts.  It is our job to spot the signs, support and sign post a team member to an expert, so that they can get help.  From my 20 years of HR experience, I have witnessed the very serious implications a gambling addiction can have.  I have known employees to lose their house, family, job and even do jail time for their actions as a consequence of a gambling addiction.

Having a robust Gambling policy is the first step. It will communicate to your business the drive to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace.

If you need help drafting a Gambling policy or need some guidance on an employee that you feel may be struggling with an addiction, then please request a call back from the HPC team

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