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Fantasy Football in the Workplace

Autumn means lots of things for lots of people. For a vast majority, fall means football, and with football comes fantasy football. Out of all of the Americans and football fans out there, it’s estimated that between 60 and 75 million people play fantasy football. Out of those who participate, over half of those people work full time jobs. In those full time jobs, many, if not all, have high-speed internet availability, which is prime for re-working and strategizing a fantasy team. So what does that mean for productivity?

Fantasy football puts the player in control of the team as the GM and coach, selecting players from a list of the best in the NFL who compete on a weekly basis during the season. The player’s on-field performance during real NFL games drives the fantasy team’s point total and success. This might sound simple enough, but the fantasy football culture requires lots of attention to detail, planning, and strategy. Many groups of people host fantasy football draft parties, specifically just to draft which NFL players will be on who’s team. As one might imagine, a simple draft can take many hours of pre-planning, not to mention the ongoing effort and planning throughout the season.

In a recent study by Challenger, it was estimated that roughly 39 million Americans manage and participate in fantasy football during work hours. With data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that 39 million who play fantasy football during the work day, earn an average of just over $25 per hour, which equates to that $990 million annually, mentioned earlier, that is lost in unproductive time not spent on work that would otherwise be accounted for. While these numbers may seem daunting, Challenger also noted that this may seem like a lot of money, but in the overall economy this isn’t much damage overall, and that companies will likely see no impact from fantasy football in Q3 and Q4.

Meanwhile, the Society for Human Resource Management found there are also some benefits to fantasy football in the workplace. The time employees may spend during their downtime, lunches or breaks on fantasy football can foster relationships, create some good old healthy competition and it provides for conversation around the watercooler that typically is fun for people. Furthermore, short breaks during the workday have been shown to increase work productivity and boost morale.

Companies that embrace fantasy football rather than turn the other cheek, can use it to their advantage by increasing morale and creating team building opportunities and contests. One of our offices actually did a mirrored contest recently and drafted employees on to teams to compete in their sales numbers and activity. This again fosters engagement, competition and it ultimately drove productivity. Additionally, most of the employees time spent on managing a fantasy team will happen after business hours and especially if proper expectations are set. It might be a wise decision to embrace the ever-so-inevitable fantasy football, to maximize the impact and create an engaging, exciting work environment. Letting employees have fun while setting guidelines.