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I can remember the first time I sat in a draft for my Bowie Jaguar’s fantasy football team on Yahoo! Fantasy Football. I had so much pride in my team that I wanted to tell everyone about it (and talk a little trash). I spent a lot of time researching stats, reading commentary and talking with people in my league in hopes of trading my way towards a dynasty. Little did I realize that I’d be using the same skills of employee engagement and pride, diligent research and emotional intelligence in the workplace for things other than fantasy football.
While there are certain emotional and social benefits of fantasy football, it’s costing US employers more than it’s fair share in productivity. A recent article in the Philadelphia Business Journal indicated that fantasy football is costing US employers $6.5 Billion in workplace productivity. But could employers run an audible and make the most of this phenomenon?
“A recent article by HR Benefits suggests that fantasy football may provide employees an opportunity to communicate with one another who might not otherwise interact – i.e., a sales rep may be able to talk to the CEO because their teams are playing each other, or an accountant may approach the head of marketing with a trade offer.
John Challenger Chief Executive of CG&C said that: “The Internet technology that helped fuel the rapid growth of fantasy football participation and makes it possible to manage teams from one’s desk and also makes it possible for employees to attend to work duties during their personal time.” (Source: Philadelphia Business Journal)
I tend to agree with the article suggestions and John Challenger and might offer the following tips:
Let’s not forget the purpose of fantasy football. The whole purpose of fantasy football is to get people excited about teams and players that they aren’t normally excited about. Employers (especially small businesses) could take this concept and apply it to the workplace to increase employee engagement. Create an office fantasy football league and pit people against one another who don’t usually get to interact with one another. How great would it be to have Accounting and HR in a league or Senior Associates and Junior Associates in a league together – building relationships and collegiality? Also, like in my earlier story, find ways to capitalize on behaviors that lead to successful fantasy football team management and allow employees to apply them for the good of the company.
You can’t control it, you can only seek to contain it. Let’s face it. Fantasy football is something that many Americans enjoy and it’s not always done using company property. While you can’t expect to keep employees happy while blocking their fantasy football sites, you might get more productivity if you set a specific window of time each week towards fantasy football. For example, If you know your colleagues hit that afternoon lunch lull at about 2:30pm, why not make 2:30pm – 3:00pm the dedicated window for fantasy football and social media. You’ll see a productive second wind from your employees and your staff will feel a sense of gratitude for getting time to strategize during company time.
Consider a Corporate Social Fun Team. Employee incentive and engagement strategies don’t have to be costly, they just have to be intentional. Why not stay in tune with what your employees are enjoying during personal time and infusing it into their work life? For example, for one demographic it might be fantasy football but for another it might be a Scandal Lunch Hour on Friday where people can watch or chat about the most recent episode. These sorts of things help improve culture and keep people excited about coming to work and “leaving it all on the field!”
Do you believe companies can benefit from fantasy football in the workplace? Why or why not?
Leave a comment below!