Fantasy Faux Pas: How to brace for a decline in work productivity

78394896As hundreds of thousands of football fans pack stadiums to capacity this fall, there are many companies dreading America’s favorite game. Their dread stems from one workplace potential productivity killer — fantasy football. This recent phenomenon transforms fans into “owners” with control of their very own football team which competes in weekly head-to-head match-ups throughout the period of the NFL season. With prizes often on the line, fantasy football owners become entrenched in perfecting their team in hopes of the ever elusive fantasy football championship.  With this much at stake, companies are keeping a close eye on how this may affect workplace productivity.

You may ask — how much time is actually being spent on setting up a fantasy team as opposed to working? Evidence shows it’s enough time to possibly affect the bottom line. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than $6.5 billion dollars are lost during the fantasy football season.

In the interest of full disclosure, Kavaliro has held an annual, purely voluntary fantasy football league since 2010. We feel one of the best things about playing fantasy football with your coworkers is that it adds to workplace relationships.  It serves as an ice breaker for new employees and adds another element of conversation. As our league’s organizer, Josh Ridgeway, says, “I feel that it can improve the overall satisfaction level because it’s a non-work related element added to work.  It would be like playing video games every day at your desk for four months.”

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Here are three ways your office can embrace fantasy football instead of dreading it.

1. Don’t avoid it. Fantasy football is an inevitable thing. Companies can try to set rules or block internet access, but workers will find a way to check the status of their team via longer lunch breaks or mobile phones. Creating a work environment of perpetual fear of being caught looking at fantasy football news is unhealthy and not good for office morale. There should be a healthy balance of productivity and fun, as in any normal office setting.

2. See it as an opportunity. Fantasy football can often turn the most docile person into a competitive football fanatic. This spark of competitiveness can actually be transformed into an opportunity for a company to looking to grow an environment of camaraderie and teamwork within its staff. Having an office draft party is a great way to bring the office together and celebrate the start of the NFL. Even something as simple as having a “wear a jersey” day or having employees compete for incentives like half-days off can do wonders for office morale.

An added benefit of fantasy football being a virtual “game” is that companies can have all of their varying branches draft together online. This collaboration with other offices is excellent for integrating all employees and promotes partnership throughout the company. If a company doesn’t look at the hours logged by an employee, but rather if company goals are being met, then setting aside time for fantasy football shouldn’t truly matter.

3. Lessons learned from football. There are many lessons a business can learn from  any sport and in particular, football. Just like a company, football has many different “departments” (offense, defense, special teams) that all strive to achieve the same goal. In order to be successful, they all must be synchronized and work together in order to win.  Similar to a company, if there is any sign of selfishness, backstabbing or drama within any of its members could cause the team to fail in achieving any of its goals.  Whether it’s a game-winning kick or finally landing that dream account, it takes a collection of individuals buying in to the goal to accomplish great feats as a team.

MORE: What workers really want

 

Bill Peppler
Bill Peppler is managing partner of Kavaliro, a provider of employment solutions.

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