A workplace fantasy league can improve employee engagement and satisfaction
Around 22 million people are currently embroiled in Fantasy Football matchups, and their activity checking in with their leagues this season is estimated to cost the American economy $6.5 billion in lost productivity, according to research by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Sounds terrible, right? Before you start blocking ESPN from the company’s computers, consider this: encouraging fantasy football among your employees can actually be great for their engagement and overall employee satisfaction.
A recent Quantum Workplace survey of 1,500 employees revealed some surprising insight into how office fantasy football impacts employee engagement. They found a 12% gap between people who participate in fantasy football with coworkers versus those who simply compete with others outside the company. Respondents who are part of an office team reported higher scores on survey items around employee satisfaction measuring teamwork and trust with their coworkers.
A number of surveys have also shown that office fantasy football helps people make connections at work. According to a 2006 Ipsos survey, 20% of respondents said their involvement in fantasy sports enabled them to make a valuable business contact. And a 2013 Society of Human Resources survey showed that the top three areas that office fantasy leagues benefited were relationship building, team building and employee engagement.
In general, the human body isn’t wired to be productive 100% of the day. Many studies have shown the benefits of short work breaks, whether that’s taking a walk or reshuffling your starting lineup. Why not make office fantasy football an acceptable way to take that mental break?
How to make your office fantasy football league productive and effective
So instead of fighting the fantasy football trend, consider embracing it as an employee engagement activity. If you’re considering an inter-office fantasy football team, here are some recommendations for making it as productive and non-intrusive as possible!
Set the rules
Fantasy football at work is fun. Fantasy football at work all the time is not OK. Set the expectation that event though the league is run through the company, that doesn’t mean it’s work.
Have a draft event
Draft events are always a lot of fun when they’re done outside the office, so why not replicate that with your office team? Provide an after-hours social event with wi-fi and snacks, and get everyone together for the draft.
Consider a no-fee league
An entry fee can be prohibitive to everyone participating and feeling a part of the team – not what we want with an employee engagement effort. Make it free for employees to participate in the fantasy league, and provide a prize as a company. This can range from silly (a trophy to be passed year to year) or something more mercenary like a gift card or even an extra vacation day.
Engage the non-interested
The fact of the matter is, not everyone is interested in football or taking the time and effort to put a fantasy team together. More likely, many people wouldn’t even know where to start. Make the draft event irresistibly fun and consider engaging an employee to provide a short tutorial on how to draft players with anyone with questions, including the auto-draft option. In the end, it becomes a no-brainer to participate, even if you’re not active in the group. For those really not interested, be sure they’re involved in any related social activities or parties.
And by the way, does your team of choice make any difference in your engagement? The Quantum study argues it does. Panthers, Ravens and Cowboys fans were most engaged. Seahawks fans – sorry Seattle! – had below-average engagement.