Paul Buck (CEO) middle, flanked by Dan Spencer (left) and Mark Potter (right).

EPIC Risk Management is a leading global independent gambling harm minimisation consultancy that has been shortlisted for two awards at this year’s IIP Awards.

Working across the highest risk sectors for gambling-related harm, they have worked in 23 countries on ground-breaking harm minimisation programmes, sector leading gambling operator training, and class-leading advisory.

CEO Paul Buck created the business as a result of his pathological gambling addiction. Following a failed suicide attempt and a prison sentence, Paul realised a need to raise awareness of the effects of gambling harm, and EPIC Risk Management was created. 

EPIC’s mission is simple, learning from lived experience; they aim to take the problem out of gambling by working in high-risk sectors and delivering educational programmes facilitated by former problem gamblers. Additionally, they provide advisory, consultancy and training services to help organisations identify and mitigate gambling harm.

When the world became a very different place last year, EPIC had to reimagine how to meet its mission of taking the problem out of gambling. The issue wasn’t going to go away due to the pandemic – the retrospective stats show that the opposite seems true.

So they thought on our feet to find better ways to work, directly and indirectly reaching potentially vulnerable people, whilst also ensuring they looked out for staff and ensured that their wellbeing was protected while asking them to work in an unusual and challenging way.

We caught up with CEO Paul Buck, who told us why they entered, what an award would mean for them and what the future holds for EPIC Risk Management.

Why did you enter The Investors in People Awards 2021?

We entered The Investors in People Awards because we’re pretty proud of our business. We wanted the opportunity to benchmark ourselves against other organisations, firstly to learn what we could do better and share some of our good practices. 

Are there any goals or challenges you hope an award will help you achieve or solve?

We’re keen to provide a great workplace that allows people to thrive. Part of our strategy to do this is to learn from others. This, alongside our recently launched wellbeing working group, will help us achieve that. 

Our vision is ‘To create a positive, inclusive, authentic workplace culture. A place where people are proud to work, be their true selves, and are enabled to thrive and uniquely rewarded for doing so’.

The wellbeing working group aim to achieve this by ‘using a holistic and collaborative approach underpinned by EPIC’s core values to create a unique and engaging experience through:

Tell us what distinguishes you from other companies in the category you’re shortlisted in.

We’re proud to be among some fantastic businesses, and we’re sure that they are all doing incredible things. What drives us here at EPIC is knowing that everything we do contributes to our mission to take the problem out of gambling. Every member of the team is committed to making a difference.

What does being shortlisted mean to everyone at your company?

The award nominations have been a unifying force for a staff team spread geographically – not just all over the UK, but internationally with our growing US presence. 

Even before remote working became the norm due to the pandemic, we worked hard to instil a team ethos into a group that was separated by hundreds – if not thousands – of miles at any one time due to the way we deliver to such a vast number of regions and countries. 

So to be recognised for being a well-run company when we’ve been working in such an unusual way has helped us to feel connected and shows the efforts we’re all putting in towards achieving a common goal.

What would it mean to win?

We’re very acutely aware that for us, every individual we protect from the risk of gambling harm is a win because that’s the reason for our existence. 

However, the odd thing about our work is that you don’t necessarily get to see those wins in a clear cut way because you never really know which student, sports star, company executive or members of armed forces personnel attended one of our education sessions could have been the one who went on to suffer a serious addiction without our intervention.

Therefore, claiming an award is one of the few flagship opportunities for us to quantify the difference we’re making. If it’s standing up and making people take notice, it’s a great sign that we’re doing something right.

How does being shortlisted benefit your customers?

We’re incredibly proud and fortunate to have a loyal and long-standing collection of partners who we have enjoyed working alongside throughout our journey so far, so we know that they trust us to deliver precisely what the people entrusted to their care need.

Having our delivery certified as being worthy of shortlisting for awards is a further reassurance to them that they’ve chosen to partner with a leading organisation. 

Hopefully, precisely what that helps them to capture the attention of the people they invite to listen to our story if they know that they’re hearing from a company that is gaining attention for positive reasons.

How would you use being the recipient of this award to influence others?

We probably don’t want to tempt fate by thinking too far ahead about winning, as we’re up against some fantastic organisations in both categories we feature in! However, if we do, it would be wonderful to see our methods being vindicated.

We hope to encourage other organisations to continue to be bold, innovative, and supportive of the most influential people to any company: your staff.

We believe that sharing good practices is key to providing great employee experiences. We would love to shout out the great things we’re doing and inspire other businesses to do the same so that others may continue to see the benefit in sharing good practices for the greater good.

What can we expect to see from your organisation in the next 12 months? (And beyond!)

We have some very exciting growth plans for our delivery in the United States in the next 12 months, so that will be huge for public awareness of EPIC Risk Management and the number of people who can benefit from the work we do in gambling harm minimisation.

We always aspire to be leaders, and we’re going to be breaking new ground with our first-ever Player Protection Symposium in New York in November, bringing together 100 C-level executives from the media, politics and the professional sport and gambling industries to discuss and present strategies to prevent gambling harm and discuss a unified approach to the issue.

We have also launched our Pro Sport Advisory Board, which will begin to make an impact over the next year as a global panel of experts that we’ve brought together from both professional sport and the gambling industry start to discuss ways that we can better protect sporting stars from the risks that come with gambling addiction.

That adds to our ongoing work in education over a variety of sectors. We’re particularly proud of our new-look independent Gambling Harm Education Programme that will reach 200 UK schools and colleges this academic year, part of a fantastic partnership with WHYSUP and Teen Tips that will inform and protect thousands of young people through a mix of eye-opening lived experiences and some carefully crafted advice that provides a holistic approach to covering both gambling harm and mental health considerations.

Internally, we have some pretty exciting initiatives up our sleeve that the wellbeing group are working on. We’re excited to see the positive effects we’re expecting them to have. The initiatives cover several different categories as we are aware that all employees have different views on benefits. 

These will be from rewards and recognition within the workplace to mental health, featuring some policy reviews to make sure our employees are supported when life gets tough. We’re also looking to offer financial education and advice to assist our staff with their futures.  

What advice would you give to anyone applying for The Investors in People Awards 2022?

If anyone wants to follow in our footsteps next year and enjoy the welcome pleasure of being on the shortlist for 2022, the planning starts now. Think ‘what do we do well, what can we do better, and what makes us unique – or could make us unique’. 

Any panel of judges will be looking for evidence of sustained success, so make sure you have proof and anecdotes noted down now and saved for when you’re planning your submission if you already have things you want to shout about and act now on any new initiatives you’re bringing in for the benefit of your staff or customers so that you have time for them to take effect and have some valuable data or stories to submit next year. 

The key thing is to be different in the best way possible. Judges want to see that you’re both innovative and successful, so if you’ve been thinking about doing something that sets your company aside from the crowd or already does something that makes you special, get your staff, suppliers, customers or other partners to start singing your praises for what it is and why you do it so that you’ve got some eye-catching tales to tell when you apply.

In terms of the tone, just be authentic, talk with pride about what you do and be honest about your improvement plans.

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