How Do Employers Tackle Gambling Issues In The Workplace?

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Supporting your employees

Woman at work on laptopYou have a duty of care as an employer. Here are ideas on how to meet obligations to employee health and wellbeing regarding the risk of gambling harm.

Workplaces have a responsibility under work health and safety (WHS) law to take reasonable care of health and safety at work. If you’re worried about a colleague’s physical or psychological safety, then follow your workplace’s policies and procedures as to how to support them.

You can reduce the impact of gambling through HR policies, find out what’s going on in your workplace and support staff who may have issues.

Do you have a workplace gambling policy?

It might seem like common sense that gambling in the workplace is banned, but having a clear policy in place can help reduce the impact:

  • Assess the risk. Take a close look at whether workplace computers and digital devices are used for gambling.
  • Be proactive. Distribute responsible gambling information to your employees.
  • Formalise a workplace gambling policy. What’s acceptable in your workplace? Say, footy tipping and Melbourne Cup sweepstakes may be okay, but using workplace equipment to access online gambling sites is not permitted.
  • Communicate. Make sure everyone knows about the policy and how to get help. Have conversations with staff about the need to be gamble aware. Provide information about help and support options.

Having a one-on-one conversation

Starting a conversation about gambling with an employee you’re worried about can be challenging. Plan ahead before you raise it with them, and consider if someone else would be better equipped than you to talk to them. Approach your HR team, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or GambleAware provider for advice on who may be the best person to have the conversation.

If you go ahead, here are some basic principles:

  • Express facts, thoughts and feelings without placing blame.
  • Use “I” not “you” statements.
  • Show that you’re listening.
  • Be understanding.
  • Plan your responses beforehand, and think about how they may react.

“I’d like to talk to you about a sensitive issue. I think it’s important for us to talk about it because I’m concerned about you.

You’re a valued employee and colleague here – that’s not going to change. But I’ve noticed you’ve seemed stressed / depressed / anxious / distracted / not yourself lately. Would you mind if I ask you some questions to find out more about your situation, and if there’s anything I can do to help?

Please know that I’ll keep your answers totally confidential.”

  • “How have you been feeling lately?”
  • “What’s been happening in your life to make you feel that way?”
  • “Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “Have you ever had an issue with gambling?”

If an employee shares they may have issues with gambling, you can ask some further questions.

Here’s a simple Yes/No checklist. You could even give them a copy to complete on their own.

  1. Have you bet more than you could afford to lose?
    Yes No
  2. Have you gone back another day to try and win back the money you lost?
    Yes No
  3. Have you needed to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement?
    Yes No
  4. Has anyone criticised you about your gambling?
    Yes No
  5. Have you felt guilty about the way you gamble, or what happens when you gamble?
    Yes No
  6. Has gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?
    Yes No
  7. Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?
    Yes No
  8. Has gambling caused any health problems for you – including stress and anxiety?
    Yes No

If they answer Yes to any of these 8 questions, they may have a more serious issue with gambling.

Let them know about GambleAware and the GambleAware website. Give them the GambleAware number 1800 858 858 and encourage them to talk to a professional counsellor, free of charge, anytime. Reassure them that it’s confidential, no-one’s going to judge them, and they have nothing to lose by talking.

Support for everyone in the workplace

Remember – GambleAware is here to support anyone impacted by gambling, and that includes you. Contact us if you need more support or advice on how to approach the issue of gambling in your workplace.

For free, confidential advice and support, call GambleAware on 1800 858 858 and arrange to talk to a counsellor near you.

GambleAware acknowledges Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the land and we pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. GambleAware is an inclusive support service.
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