Q. An employee loves organizing office pools for sports events. Maybe it’s harmless fun, but he treats it seriously and pressures people to place big bets. Is this an issue for an EAP referral?
A. If he pressures coworkers to wager money, it is inappropriate workplace behavior. (It is also an indicator of an intense and possibly unhealthy attraction to gambling, but you can’t diagnose such a problem.) BJC EAP will consider whether compulsive gambling is an issue during an assessment and whether it is related to these betting schemes. The workplace disruption you have witnessed leads employers to develop policies that define what types of gambling activities, if any, are permissible at work. Some state laws prohibit betting pools outright, although such laws are rarely enforced. Employees who cannot control their gambling may exhibit warning signs, such as frequent unexplained absenteeism, severe mood swings and repeated and increasingly desperate attempts to borrow money or manage their growing personal debt. Online gambling poses an increasing threat to employees with web access at work.
Q. A group of my employees is swapping investment ideas and trading online. I don’t know if they trade with company computers, but I suspect they do. Conflicts have emerged, and I’m worried about the boundaries of this activity. Can BJC EAP help?
A. Meet with your employees and tell them that their personal investing activities must not take place during work hours or with company resources such as computers. Explain that their activities have caused disruption. Let them know that BJC EAP is ideally suited to provide counseling about financial matters, although it will not provide investing advice. BJC EAP can help employees access a network of financial consultants with expertise in personal budgeting, managing debt and other financial concerns. Some of them may need more help than you know. Online trading can become addictive like compulsive gambling, and it can lead to financial ruin if one is not careful.
Q. I think social media sites like Facebook are consuming time and hampering the productivity of some employees. One of my employees can’t seem to stay away from these websites, even after I insist. Is this a real addiction?
A. This topic is hotly debated, but it has no bearing on your task of managing the problematic use of the computer by your employee. Meet with your employee, and with documentation in hand, make a supervisor referral to BJC EAP. With help from BJC EAP, support, follow-up and a program of recovery, you can help this employee maintain abstinence from compulsive Internet use.