For many years, employers, managers, and HR departments have faced an uphill struggle as they attempt to keep employees off social media during working hours. While annoying and time-wasting, employees sneaking glances at Facebook when they should be working is relatively harmless, however, these days, HR departments are reporting an altogether more worrying trend in the workplace – online gambling.
An inside job
With the best will in the world, it’s almost impossible to stop employees using the internet for personal use during working hours; whether it’s to tweet about the latest TV show or place a quick order for grocery delivery. While it is possible to put in place controls to prevent staff accessing some sites, this can be problematic as it can limit access to work-related content at the same time. During the pandemic, online gambling and online casinos, spiked in popularity as many people found themselves with more time on their hands and, it seems, that this trend is continuing post-pandemic. While most employees will confine their online gambling activities to their personal time, an increasing number of people have begun to access these sites in the workplace. This can present a number of issues for a business, including:
- Productivity: It’s all too easy for employees to flip from their work to sites such as online casinos and, like social media, this is the time taken away from their work which can lead to a dip in productivity for the business.
- Security: When employees are accessing a number of non-work-related websites, this poses a risk to the security to the business network in the form of viruses and cyberattacks.
- Fraud: If an employee has access to company funds, such as a business credit card, there is always the possibility of the employee committing fraud in order to fund their habit.
- Addiction: When employees are able to gamble online at home, at work, and during their commute, this presents a very real risk of addiction.
Hedging your bets
Despite the fact that 80% of employees say that debt and gambling are a distraction in the workplace, only around 5% of businesses have policies in place to tackle this as they would alcohol and drug issues.
In 2022, businesses need to be proactive both in preventing gambling in the workplace and in offering support to staff who may be experiencing issues with an online gambling habit. This should include management and HR being trained in spotting the signs of problem gambling such as secretive behavior, shutting down of pages when somebody approaches, poor concentration and increased requests for salary advances. HR departments should be integrating gambling addiction into their overall employee health and wellbeing policies, as well as putting measures in place to prevent staff from accessing gambling sites.
Online gambling, playing some nice slots, poker online or blackjack is, for the most part, a harmless pastime but, left unchecked, this is a hobby which can spiral into addiction. These days, particularly when employees are working from home, people have free rein to access online gambling sites at any time of day and night. For businesses, this means taking proactive action to ensure that online betting doesn’t involve gambling the company’s productivity – and that employees are supported should they find that their gambling is spiralling out of control.