Is gambling an issue for my workplace?
Evidence shows that gambling can have an impact on workplaces. Mobile phones and the internet allow easy access to gambling at all hours of the day and night, even while at work. This could affect your workplace, team, friends or employees.
Gambling that is frequent and problematic may affect workplaces in a variety of ways, including negative impacts on morale and workplace culture, and in extreme cases, increased financial risk to the organisation.
Impacts on an employee may include:
- increased days of absence
- extended breaks used to gamble
- reduced productivity and quality of work
These same symptoms can be exhibited by someone affected by someone else’s gambling, e.g. their partner or parent.
Breaking down the stigma around gambling supports everyone.
Being a proactive employer will help
- maintain employee productivity
- maintain customer satisfaction
- have a healthy workplace culture
What are the signs of gambling harm?
Research shows that some gamblers may hide their involvement but other signs may be much easier to detect. Signs of gambling harm may include:
- Talking a lot about gambling or being known to gamble a lot in leisure time
- Gambling during work breaks, or being absorbed in race programs or sport betting odds
- Inviting colleagues to gamble and bet together
Overt signs of harm can be:
- Often talking about “sure” bets, infallible gambling systems and being close to winning big money
- Gambling when should be working
- Asking colleagues to lend money for gambling
An employee experiencing severe harm from gambling who is more guarded may display signs such as:
- Declining work performance, inability to meet deadlines, unreliability
- Arrives late at work, leaves early, takes extended lunch break and often calls in sick
- Seems depressed, anxious or stressed, is moody and irritable, is tired and having difficulties concentrating
- Often visits the toilet (to make phone bets)
- Often calls in sick the day after payday (having gambled intensely)
- No longer talks much about personal interests or leisure activities
- Something appears to be troubling the individual but colleagues and management cannot see any obvious reason.
Signs of financial troubles, which may or may not be caused by gambling are:
- Borrowing money from colleagues
- Offering colleagues personal belongings for sale
- Asking for advances in pay
Does your workplace support a healthy culture free from gambling harm?
Businesses in Victoria have a duty of care to their workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide a safe working environment. Problem gambling presents a risk to employee’s psychological and physical health that requires management like any other risk.
Developing a policy for your workplace, by adding gambling to an existing policy or code of conduct, can assist your business and employees to work in a proactive and supportive environment while minimising risks. We can assist you in this and provide information, resources and education for your workplace.
Raising awareness about the signs of gambling harm can:
- help identify potential issues
- assist employees to access support
- encourage a safe and healthy non-judgmental workplace
Research undertaken by Child and Family Services Ballarat, with Ballarat businesses suggested that employees are happy to have a workplace policy on gambling.
What can employers do to reduce harm from gambling?
Many employers are not currently aware of the risks that some forms of gambling behaviours can pose to their workplace.
There is some evidence of increased risks in particular employment sectors. For example, shift workers may be more vulnerable to developing gambling problems.
The potential for gambling to cause harm to employees and their workplace means that employers should seek to:
- have a workplace policy on gambling (or code of conduct)
- Conduct a responsible gambling awareness session for staff
- Ensure their employee assistance program asks about gambling
- Consider where you hold your work events to suit the event’s purpose
- Consider the use of software to block access to gambling websites at work
- Support staff who may be affected by gambling
Recent research suggests that consumption of alcohol and betting promotions may contribute to risky sports betting behaviours. The same research looked into the impact of gambling advertising which indicated;
- it may trigger impulses to gamble,
- may increase already high levels of gambling
- may make it more difficult for problem gamblers in particular, to gamble less or not gamble at all.
So employers should consider where they hold work events, to suit the event’s purpose.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation recommends the following actions:
- Employers should assess their workplace for possible gambling risks
- Employers may choose to adopt a workplace policy on gambling, similar to policies that exist for other risky activities (such as alcohol or safety hazards)
- Employers should consider ensuring that employees do not gamble using resources provided by the employer (such as a work computer or phone)
- Any workplace policy on gambling should be clear and available to employees
- An employer should make clear to employees that they will not be discriminated against because they gamble
- Employers should provide employees with information about gambling, including signs to look out for if someone is experiencing harm from gambling, and details of employee assistance programs
- Employees should be made aware of the available support services if they or someone they care about is experiencing problems with gambling
We can help your organisation to:
- Guide you on how to deal with gambling in the workplace, including how to talk with and support an employee you suspect may be experiencing harm from gambling.
- Implement a workplace gambling policy
- Arrange a member of the Gambler’s Help team to provide a responsible gambling information session at your workplace
Please contact the Community Educator on 5337 3333 or phone Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858
- Discussion Paper – Gambling and the workplace: The issue, its impacts and actions for employers– Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
- Workplace Gambling Policy Template– Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation