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Fantasy football in the workplace: Punt or play?

fantasy football at work

Winter is approaching. The air is getting cooler, the days shorter, and the fantasy football season is heading into its home stretch. Whether you are aware of it or not, chances are some of your employees are playing fantasy football at work. A survey conducted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports that as of 2015, a staggering 56.8 million people in the US and Canada are playing fantasy sports.

What does that mean for your business? Well, a lot of things—some good and some not-so-good.

For starters, and the most obvious: a potential loss of productivity. According to a recent study conducted by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, it’s projected that in 2015 businesses will lose nearly $16 billion in productivity because employees may be using their smartphones and company computers to analyze game stats and results—like the number of touchdowns Hawaii Heisman trophy finalist Marcus Mariota will throw rather.

For all the unproductive arguments, it might be helpful to consider fantasy football as a way to help with productivity.

“We need distractions during the day,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but those short periods of being unproductive help workers be more productive in the long run,” states Challenger. Fantasy sports leagues may provide a welcome distraction and a nice break to re-energize employees.

Employers may want to consider one other possible benefit of fantasy football: it’s a good way to build camaraderie among employees. Fantasy football can be a welcome opportunity for employees to bond with one another and create conversation amongst themselves. Fantasy football can also help make work fun, and that’s good for employers, employees and business.

Should we allow fantasy football in the workplace?

It’s a difficult decision. Ask yourself: Will fantasy football leagues be used as a way to build camaraderie amongst employees, or will they hurt employee productivity?

If you decide to allow fantasy sports (it’s not just football), it’s important that you clearly communicate your stance with your employees, preferably in writing. Here are a few guidelines you may want to consider implementing:

  •  Set a time limit. Fantasy football activities should be strictly prohibited on company time. Limit them to breaks, lunch hours, etc.
  • Clearly state gambling laws. If employees have a monetary component to their fantasy football league, clearly describe what type of gambling is allowed and what type of gambling is legal in Hawaii (social). Check out our March Madness office pool and Hawaii’s social gambling law for clarity on what’s legal and not legal.
  • Set parameters. Your written policy should clearly state that employees are prohibited from using company property to participate in any online gambling, including fantasy sports leagues.
  • Communicate consequences. Just as important as clearly defining rules for playing fantasy football at work, it’s also very important to clearly define and communicate the consequences for breaking office policy.

Have a question for one of our HR experts? To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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