If you’re like me then you are a Fantasy Football gamer. Your Sundays are consumed with NFL RedZone, checking your phone for score updates, watching the injury report and monitoring for the latest potential waiver wire pickups. But as you are probably also aware, Fantasy Football bleeds over into the workweek, creating a source of comradery between coworkers but ultimately costing employers big bucks.
In fact, Gray and Christmas, an outplacement firm, estimated that Fantasy Football will cost employers nearly $13 billion in lost time and productivity over this year’s 13-17 week season. Ouch! Here’s the dilemma for your HR department: is it a benefit or distraction?
Across the country, a number of HR professionals see the benefits of allowing fantasy football to take place at work. An HR Benefits article pointed out that having communal teams within the workplace actually creates opportunity for collaboration because it might enable a sales rep to talk to a CFO because their teams happen to be playing one another. It might also open lines of communication between, say, a member of accounting and recruiting. An increase in interdepartmental communication is good for any organization.
Trust is another huge factor when weighing the risks of fantasy football. Workers who feel that their employers trust their web-surfing behaviors tend to do the right thing and do so only during approved times. If you don’t allow open internet access due to security concerns or other reasons, give your employees an area where they can go during breaks to get away from their normal day-to-day tasks.
Here’s more fuel to add to the fire: a study on productivity at Florida State University found that human beings hit physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. It turns out that taking a break actually increases productivity.
While the costs associated with lost time and productivity seem high, there is more to the story and may actually produce positive results for your employees and organization.
For fear of plummeting productivity by employees, many organizations block access to websites where employees can access fantasy football or other social media sites. The reason most employers cite for deactivating access is the unnecessary distractions associated with one of America’s favorite hobbies. These employers say that their highly-motivated employees don’t have time to partake so it is a moot point.
Individuals within an organization could also feel left out if they aren’t invited to play in the office league. We all remember the person who was picked last and that feeling is something nobody wants to relive.
Your IT department may be anti-fantasy football in the workplace, as bandwidth that would normally be devoted to payroll or other business functions would likely decrease, causing poor network speeds. Nobody wants to see slower internet speeds while at work.
Fantasy football’s tantalizing allure and popularity make it a focal point each year as we enter football season. It is water cooler talk that brings people together but can also put a divide between work and fun. In the end only you know what is best for your people and business model.