Workplace sports culture

How healthy is your workplace  sports culture?

Okay so England didn’t quite bring it home (Is it safe to talk about that yet? :-))  But very thankfully we’re seeing the return of some normality at least in the world of sport. One of the firsts since the very dawn of the  pandemic. Sport is back with a vengeance in our lives and in many of our homes. What with the Euro’s, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Olympics, the Grand Prix, the Premiership, the list goes on and on (and on, it’s definitely back!). Sport often forms a big part of peoples lives or their entertainment. A lot of people work more than they do anything else in their life. There are huge links between sport and gambling. So what part can workplace sports culture play  in this and how we can make that healthier?

Not Generalising but…..

Now I’m not normally one to generalise, but in my experience, generally some men (not all of you) can tend to talk about sport a lot. Generally a lot more than women do (I know, generalising again, but very true in my experience!) It’s very commonplace for men to be  chatting with friends and work colleagues about the latest match or the Grand Prix etc. We know that in some workplaces, sports talk forms a good part of the work social structure. Whilst in other similar workplace sports cultures, this can also be accompanied by a less healthy gambling culture.  If you want to read more about that, then the article below this  explores the issue in more depth.

talking sport

Building on that workplace sports culture

There can also be wider sports cultures in workplaces and deeper factors to consider. Some companies offer incentives or team building activities like days out to the dogs or the races, executive boxes at different sports  events, nights out at the casino. Some sectors may have fruit machines in communal rest areas.  There maybe various syndicates going on like work lottery groups or fantasy football league or who’s going to win on Strictly or BGT. There can also be a lot of talk about past and future bets. More typically wins, not may people like talking about their losses (yep, the g word again but it is true!) Now at first glance that all seems fairly harmless maybe standard even, however…..

What our work tells us….

We often hear from the clients we are working with who are struggling with their gambling, that the workplace can be a really difficult environment filled with potential triggers. Sadly gambling addiction can still be seen to be stigmatised, not least by the problematic gambler. Those team building or reward incentives can present a real challenge.  It can be difficult or feel awkward finding reasons to not attend as not a lot of people may know about their issue. If they decide to go because of this, then without good planning or support they could be vulnerable to relapse.

yes no decisions

Similarly, having to opt out of betting syndicates at work can also feel embarrassing or challenging and present the same issues. Yet, this may well be necessary if it is part of or could trigger more out of control gambling. If slot machines  are in communal places  at work and that’s one of your problematic gambling ways, then that’s potentially going to be really tricky to manage. Hearing people talking about gambling or more challenging again their wins, all that can be very difficult.

The slow returning to some sort of norm….

Whilst the world of sport is pretty much back on track, there is much talk about how other workforces will return and the potential for hybrid working. Employee wellbeing and mental health came more into focus at the start of the pandemic and continues to be as we slowly transition to the “new norm”. A much needed emphasis as a lot 0f people will be struggling to adapt and worrying about their future.

Gambling addiction can have a huge impact on the person with the habit and also on those closest to them. The impacts tend to seep into all areas of their life including their mental health and work life. Gambling increased during the multiple lockdowns, despite there not being much live sport initially! Boredom, spare time, stress and ironically having spare cash all playing a part in this.


Don’t worry, I’m not going to do death by stats, but here’s a few that may make you think

  • On average, one problem gambler commits suicide every day, the harm goes wider: for each problem gambler, six other people, a total of two million, are harmed by the breakup of families, crime, loss of employment, loss of homes and, ultimately, loss of life.
  • More than four in five (82%) British adults think that gambling and debt can be a distraction for people in work.
  • Almost three quarters of adults (72%) think business should be concerned about gambling.
  • 15% of online gamblers have been gambling in the workplace in the past four weeks.

What you can do…..

Thinking of one of your colleagues or employees returning or already in the workplace battling with a gambling addiction. How can you make that a healthier place for them?

Here’s our  top 5 tips, to initially help you to do that:

  • Consider your workplace environment/culture
  • Create a workplace policy on gambling
  • Provide awareness training
  • Communicate with employees about responsible gambling and provide information about help and support available
  • Have access to specialist gambling counselling and/or financial counselling to provide for any affected employees.

Want to know more on how to do this or anything else? We love to hear from you! Get in touch on [email protected]

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Gambling in the Workplace-A Social “Norm”?

Where it starts…

Thinking about gambling in the workplace as a social norm, let’s look back to see how this can happen…

It’s funny how we can trick ourselves into believing that because everyone else is doing something, then it must be okay!! I think that thought starts at quite a young age. Often as a kid, after a good ticking off, I would say “That’s not fair, all my friends do it”. My parent’s typical response was, “If your friends decided to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?” When I could, I would delight in saying, “You do it, so why can’t I?”

Sad but true, as a very young teen I smoked, I would watch a film or TV programme and some cool character would light up a cigarette and blow out plumes of smoke. Mahoosive trigger for me!! Nine times out of ten, shortly thereafter, I would pelt up to the bathroom have a quick puff and then frantically flap a towel about to get rid of the smoke. My parents smoked, so when I did sometimes get caught red-handed, the above would be my retort. (I was a bit of a  rebellious child!)

How it develops….

So we can think it’s okay to do things if the people around us are doing the same thing. We might then do whatever that may be, often without questioning whether it’s actually any good for us. We sometimes continue the activity despite being told or knowing that it’s actually bad for us. Whatever that thing is, this becomes the norm for us!

Activities often follow trends. The liquid lunch (still a given in some working cultures) is often slightly more frowned upon in some workplaces today. Cocaine became more prominent as a discreet substitute to the latter in the 80’s and 90’s. Still going on by many accounts: in some industries currently, alongside cocaine, the use of amphetamine and prescribed drugs like codeine phosphate is rife. This can lead to a reliance on substances to get through the working day.

Following on from that….

Gambling is currently the fastest growing addiction not just in the UK but also globally. Here in the UK that very scarily applies to children too. There are over 430, 000 known problematic gamblers in the UK and an estimated  3000, 000 more people at risk of becoming so. In actuality, the real figure of the latter is likely to be a lot higher as problematic gambling remains a very hidden addiction.

And now it seems that gambling is also happening in the workplace today. In fact, gambling has been a feature in the workplace for many years. Whether that’s a works’ outing to horse or dog races, nights out at the Casino or in house pools/consortiums for certain events, like football, the X Factor or Strictly.

What are contributing factors for gambling in the workplace becoming the new social norm….

The advancement of technology  in terms of gambling means that we can now do that 24/7. Most people now have smartphones and/or tablets with any amount of clever apps. This means they can gamble at home on the go and yes very definitely at work. In some industries, gambling forms part of the work culture. Colleagues chat about what they’re going to bet on, give tips, share good odds. As such it becomes something they have in common and builds their relationships.

The volume of advertisements related to gambling and the increase of gambling sponsorships in sport all culminate in making gambling seem part of our daily culture. When all your mates are doing the same thing, sometimes it’s difficult to spot when gambling is turning into a problem. Problem gambling potentially has hugely negative impacts for the person gambling, their family, friends, colleagues and employers.

Is this ringing any bells for you?

Are you worried about your own gambling behaviour?

Has gambling become the new social norm in your workplace?

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