Corporations are careful to assess risk before hiring an employee. They conduct drug testing along with multiple interviews and cover pages of rules with new hires. The cost of replacing an employee is high, and employers are careful to be sure that a candidate aligns well in philosophy and work style before he or she is hired. According to Mark D. Griffiths, PhD, in a recent article in Psychology Today, an area of employee risk that corporations may be ignoring at their peril is gambling addictions. The financial implications of hiring an employee with a gambling problem may be serious, but few organizations are regularly working to prevent workplace gambling.
Regulating Addictive Behavior on the Job
The lack of company regulations on gambling may be surprising, given that most companies regulate other types of addictive behaviors, including smoking policies and employing drug and alcohol testing to be sure employees are not exposing the company to loss. However, a compulsive gambler, depending on their role in the company, can have a serious impact on the company’s well-being. An employee placed in a role with access to company funds, for instance, should be aware of the company’s position on gambling at work. Few companies have any policy at all in regards to gambling on the job. The advent of mobile devices paired with internet gambling sites means that problematic gambling may exist indefinitely without detection. Organizations need to acknowledge the risk of gambling with company money and protect the investment.
Gambling Addiction: Who’s at Risk?
There are certain risk factors for problem gambling, such as being male, a family history of problem gambling, and a low income. In addition, unemployment, homelessness, and poor health, among other factors, are associated with an increased risk for problem gambling. Those who suffer from problem gambling usually experience the same types of consequences that accompany compulsive behaviors, such as problems with interpersonal relationships and financial hardship.
Minimizing Gambling at Work
Dr. Griffiths offers several items of advice related to gambling in the workplace:
- Businesses should take gambling seriously. Many businesses do not consider the behavior a serious risk, but managers should take time to explore the vulnerability to gambling and build in some protection.
- Raising awareness about gambling at work can help educate employees about the possibility of a coworker having a gambling problem. Employees that understand the risk of job loss if a coworker compromises the well-being of the company through gambling may be more likely to report deviant behavior.
- Employees can be educated about the signs of symptoms of a problem gambler so that they may recognize it in themselves or in coworker. Employees can be provided with a diagnostic gambling checklist in order to allow employees to examine whether they may exhibit signs of a gambling problem.
- Regular security checks of company computers may help managers ward off workplace gambling. Checking the internet bookmarks of staff can help managers detect any workplace gambling, and the knowledge that such monitoring is occurring may deter employees from engaging in gambling.
- The company can also develop a clear policy related to workplace gambling, just as they have policies for other inappropriate workplace behaviors, such as smoking or drinking. If a problem gambler is identified, the company should provide access to counseling or other support services to treat the gambling problem. In addition to the gambling policy, managers can also develop a risk assessment policy related to gambling.
Gambling is often hidden with modern technology, and an employee who spends time on gambling sites during the workday may be exhibiting signs of compulsively gambling. Companies need to protect themselves against the risk of employees that may gamble at work, particularly among employees that have access to company assets.