Anyone who lives or works in close quarters with another human being knows that there will eventually be conflict. Conflict often comes from misunderstandings between people. However, it could also be that an individual’s personal struggles are so great that they disrupt those around them.
One situation that can lead to serious consequences is that of workplace gambling. Many offices have gambling pools, especially ones that revolve around sports events such as March Madness. This type of gambling might seem harmless, and many might argue that it builds camaraderie among coworkers.
However, as Bruce Weinstein of Bloomberg points out, the workplace is for work. Gambling isn’t an appropriate activity for a professional environment. It is possible that gambling could increase camaraderie. But it just as likely to cause divisions and tension among employees who lose. It would also be foolish to ignore the fact that certain employees, in addition to customers and board members, might feel uncomfortable with gambling for various reasons.
And that’s not to mention that companies could very well have employees who struggle with compulsive gambling. Executives and managers who look the other way at office betting are tolerating an environment that is extremely damaging to anyone struggling with gambling addiction.
Gambling and Drug Abuse
This is not to say that everyone who gambles socially is addicted to the practice. However, according to SaferGaming, casual gambling can very easily lead to addictive behavior. They say this is because “the internet has fundamentally altered the way in which people are able to wager.”
People used to be reluctant to categorize gambling as an “addiction,” meaning a problem similar to a dependency on drugs. However, experts now see drug abuse and compulsive gambling as being remarkably similar.
Research shows that drug addicts and compulsive gamblers have similar tendencies toward thrill-seeking. Both types of users demonstrate increasingly dangerous actions in order to achieve their respective highs. And both go into withdrawals when deprived of the behavior upon which they are dependent.
Multiple studies, including one done by Yale University, have found similarities between the brain activity of compulsive gamblers and drug addicts. So while authorities used to understand addiction exclusively as a dependence on a chemical, they now understand it as seeking a euphoric experience even when doing so will result in harmful consequences.
Notably, these findings are right along the lines of what researchers have found regarding habitual porn use. While not a chemical substance, viewing porn washes the brain with dopamine. Then people require increasingly hardcore pornography (which often portrays women being harmed) to get the high that they’re seeking.
Besides gambling’s potential to be addictive, it is also important to be aware that many states place legal restrictions on betting. So the facts that gambling is unprofessional behavior, could be seriously harmful to employees, and could lead to legal trouble for your company are all good reasons not to tolerate workplace gambling.
Watch for Signs of Gambling Addiction in Your Office
It’s extremely helpful to be aware of the signs of gambling addiction. That way you can recognize if any of your employees have a gambling problem. You might not think gambling is an explicitly work-related issue. But the truth is that the productivity of addicted employees will suffer, and their behavior will impact your whole team.
There are various indicators that your employees might be dependent on gambling. Some of those signs are being habitually late to work, being absent from work with no explanation, or taking frequent breaks to use the bathroom or the phone.
Financial signs could be that employees get into disagreements with coworkers regarding money owed or borrowed. They might rather have money than vacation time, or they might receive their bills at work instead of at their homes.
Of course, someone who is a compulsive gambler is going to be spending time gambling. If office betting is currently part of your workplace environment, watch to see if there are certain employees who are always the ones organizing the betting pools or who are especially preoccupied with gambling activities.
Finally, compulsive gamblers are likely to neglect parts of their lives, such as personal hygiene and grooming. They might be unusually fatigued, unfocused, and unproductive.
Take Measures to Help Your Employees
You can help people who struggle with gambling by training company leaders and your other employees to recognize the signs of addiction. Make sure you then have procedures in place to deal with this issue when it surfaces. Also, make sure you organize your cash flow. That way you can spot any irregularities that might arise should employees steal from your company.
It might be tempting to overlook office betting as a harmless practice. Just remember that you could very well be opening the door to serious consequences for both you and those who work for you.
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