March Madness Costs U.S. Employers Nearly $2 Billion

American businesses are expected to lose $1.9 billion in productivity during the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, according to estimates from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Ouch! Whether employees are filling out brackets or the boss is watching games from his or her desk, there’s no question that some businesses are less productive during March Madness.

But Workplace Gambling is Much More Than a Productivity Problem.

For many workers, betting on the annual tournament is a diversion—a form of entertainment and a way to connect socially with others. While it lowers productivity and saps resources (like bandwidth), the distraction is usually temporary.

However, for some people, wagering on March Madness and other sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, can raise the risk for gambling addiction, a brain condition in which a person can’t control the urge to gamble. To learn more, visit March Madness- Potential Gateway to Problem Gambling?

Why is Problem Gambling a Problem for Employers?

Compulsive gambling can be as destructive as other addictions—and it can have a similar impact on the workplace. A person struggling with this addiction cannot control their urge to bet, and, as a result, he or she spends time obsessing over their next wager instead of handling workplace responsibilities. Problem gamblers may also have increased rates of absenteeism or tardiness. Additionally, they’re at higher risk for other conditions that affect workplace performance, including clinical depression and substance abuse.

Some people with gambling problems may also commit workplace crimes, like theft or fraud, to fund the addiction. A study of major U.S. fraud cases in 2013 discovered that gambling was a motivating factor in 24% of the crimes.

Do You Have a Workplace Gambling Policy?

Your company likely has policies in place to protect the business and its employees from substance abuse in the workplace. A gambling policy works in the same way, defining appropriate behavior while at work and developing a framework for dealing with violations and treatment referrals. Consult a human resources professional about creating a workplace gambling policy at your business.

If you’re an employer in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA and would like to learn more about protecting your business from problem gambling, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831. We offer gambling addiction education and treatment resources.

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