Fantasy football costs are real at the workplace

| August 22, 2014

Even as many companies found ways to channel FIFA fever among workers to their benefit this year, it’s not surprising to find some productivity drop during major sporting events. And it’s not just the ones that are played on field, virtual sports like fantasy football can also pull attention away from work.

A recent study by Chicago-based outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gary & Christmas reports that the damage could be to the extent of $13.4 billion in lost productivity.

How did they arrive at this figure?

Assuming that 59 percent of the 31 million working-age Americans who take part in fantasy sports are employed, that’s 18.3 million workers that could contribute to lost productivity due to fantasy sports. The firm then used the average hourly earnings of employees on private, non-farm payrolls. This worked out to $24.45.

Even if these employees just spent a couple of hours weekly playing fantasy football at work, that still adds up to $13.4 billion overall. That’s because fantasy football happens over 15 weeks.

However, this figure is but a tiny drop in the vast GDP ocean. It’s not even 1% of $1.5 trillion paid out in wages over the same 15 week period. So, employers should not be alarmed.

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites is likely to backfire and cause a drop in morale, loyalty and, ironically, productivity,” says Challenger, CEO of the firm. “The end result could be far worse than any loss of productivity caused by an hour or two of team management each week,” he continues.

Why blame fantasy football alone?

“There are more distractions than ever in today’s workplace. If it’s not fantasy football, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip, shopping on Amazon, or checking Facebook,” points out Challenger.

Technology and fantasy football

Stephen Jupinka, a fantasy football player says, “Everybody is working on the computer and you got your browser up and the temptation to read the latest news is just a click away.”

Still, fantasy football players can use technology to play outside work hours too. “You have all this at your fingertips while you’re commuting, whereas only five or six years only you had to have a computer,” Jupinka continues.

Also, fantasy football rules accommodate those who work, he says. Some fantasy football deadlines for Thursday games are as late as 10 PM Wednesday, so you have “plenty of time,” he feels.

How to manage time responsibly

Perhaps employers should consider workers to be responsible humans and trust them to manage their time to perform their tasks. “The people who play these high stakes contests have to have the disposable income, and if you need that you have to work for it. You have to be smart. You can’t be on the computer looking at this stuff all day long,” Jupinka points out.

“It’s important to check the free-agent pool and what transactions your opponents are making to adjust one’s strategy,” says Mac, who checks fantasy football at least twice daily at work. Image by Phil Whitehouse.

Fantasy football helps in teamwork

The team building advantages of fantasy football can outweigh productivity losses. “Switching water-cooler talk from office gossip to fantasy football doesn’t seem like a bad thing,” says Tom Gimbel, President and CEO of LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting company.

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Category: New Products, Office courtesy

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