Real World Rules for Fantasy Football

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Are you ready for some football? For many Americans, that is a definite "YES!" The number of employees participating in fantasy football leagues has grown to over 20 million or nearly 1 in 5 full-time employees. These employees spend on average – 3.86 hours at home and 1.19 hours at work – playing and researching the game (Fantasy Sports Trade Association and Nielsen Online). No matter if you are a critic or a fan – the question becomes – is fantasy football a real problem or a real positive in the workplace?

I'm going to assume that everyone is aware of Fantasy Football Leagues and what they are. So what's the big deal?

There is a camp out there that says these leagues lead to decreased productivity, a violation of social media and computer usage policies, and are a possible gambling concern. We all know (or would like to believe) that this isn't true. How do you persuade the naysayers to switch teams? Focus on all of the positives! Here's how:

  • Eliminate the gambling concern. Offer prizes instead of money. And these don't have to be specifically for the winner either. Prizes can be given to the best "smack talk" team or the team with the most creative name, etc. Still unable to convince the Nervous Nelly in your office? Check with your attorney or tax advisor to be sure the value of the prize does not create additional concerns.
  • Host a draft party. After work! Send out an invite to the entire office and see who wants to participate. You never know who will be interested. This might even lead to interdepartmental communication and stronger relationships among your employees. And then, wait for it....this might lead to collaboration within your company. This can also alleviate the decreased productivity argument – if your employees feel that you trust them to do the right thing, they tend to do so.
  • Violation of computer usage policy. Really? What's the difference between spending an hour on fantasy football or shopping on Amazon or checking Facebook or reading celebrity gossip? Again, if you trust your employees to do the right thing, they probably will. However, if you feel strongly about this, remind your employees of your policy. If personal Internet use is allowed, emphasize that use should be kept to a minimum and/or to restrict it to break time.

Anything can be fun as long as the privilege is not abused. Employers and HR alike need to carefully weigh the pros and cons and decide what is best for their company. Remember Fantasy Football Leagues can be a great low cost engagement and retention tool to boost employee morale, make new connections, and cause collaboration – without a major disruption to workflow and productivity.

Now get out there and win one for the team!


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Guest January 22 2018