The digital era brought us a lot of good things - all the information in the world is just a few clicks away, we can talk face-to-face while being miles apart, or work in the same virtual office with people from across the globe. However, this level of accessibility also has the potential to harm us - we’re always dancing on the thin line between usefulness and abuse.
Practically everyone has a smartphone or a tablet by now, and reaching gambling sites has been made far too easy. Gambling is the kind of activity that starts as something we do for fun, but it can quickly pull us into the vicious circle of addiction. Once that happens, we risk ruining our relationships with family and friends, financial security, and losing our jobs. Since this is an important topic that doesn’t get discussed nearly enough, we decided to do our own research and create a guide for employers on how to provide proper support to employees endangered by gambling addiction.
Gambling Addiction in Numbers
Before we give any practical advice on dealing with an employee with a gambling addiction, let’s look into how gambling affects people in general. Stats tell us that 0.6% of the adult population has, or had, problems with gambling. If we include people with less severe addictions, the number goes up to 2.3%.
When an employee suffers from gambling addiction, so does their work performance. According to a study from the NSW Government, almost 25% of gamblers admitted that their addiction impacted their work ability. This drop in performance can manifest in many ways, from using workplace technology to access gambling sites to office absenteeism to indulge in gambling. It’s essential to recognize the signs of gambling addiction on time, so we’ll list the most common ones here:
- Increased absenteeism
- Often late for work or leaving work early
- Too distracted to work
- Taking large blocks of vacation time at short notice
- Mood swings
- Theft of company property
- Arguments with colleagues
- Excessive or suspicious phone use
- Initiates betting polls at work
- Frequent borrowing
- Continually boasting about their earnings
- Receiving credit card or loan bills at work rather than home
These signs may or may not be caused to gambling addiction, but they’re undoubtedly red flags an employer should address before they turn into bigger problems that will be both costly and time-consuming to resolve.
What To Do When You Suspect an Employee Is Struggling With Gambling Addiction
In case you suspect an employee has gambling problems, here are some steps you can take:
- Don’t diagnose them, but approach them openly: Managers should take care of their employees and support them through hardship. If your approach makes your employee feel attacked, they’re not likely to entrust you with helping them get better. Express your concerns in an empathetic way, and offer resources for combating this vicious disorder.
- Don’t be judgmental: The worst thing managers can do when confronting struggling employees is to come across as accusatory. Instead, they should reassure their employees that their secrets will stay safe, and they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help.
- Consider things from a business perspective: An employee’s gambling addiction might pose a threat to their work performance and quality. To ensure your business runs smoothly, you can give them some time off to recuperate while letting them know you’re there for them.
- Provide awareness training: Being educated on the topic can help with early prevention. Gambling addiction can happen to any of us; it’s vital to maintain awareness of the early signs and consequences, as well as how to approach an affected person.
- Provide financial counseling for struggling employees: Gambling problems and financial struggles go hand-in-hand, and the anxiety your employee might be feeling might spill over to work. To help with this, employers should provide access to financial counseling and other treatment methods.
- Monitoring company finances: An employee battling a gambling problem who also has access to your company’s funds spells danger in every way. If you suspect one of your financially savvy employees to be a gambling addict, looking into your company’s finances might give you the proof you need to encourage them to seek help, and it will protect your cash flow from further infractions.
Wrapping It Up
Gambling addiction is a severe problem that should never be ignored. Unaddressed gambling has the potential to ruin lives and turn great employees into disconnected and unproductive husks. Employers should support their employees on their journey to recovery, but, to do that, they have to be able to recognize early signs and address them promptly before the addiction causes any irreversible damage.