The NFL playoffs are coming up, and some of your employees will probably be a bit distracted as the fantasy football season winds down. Many employers worry that this form of entertainment is just another drain on productivity. In fact, many employer networks block fantasy sports sites.
But the fact is that fantasy sports are here to stay — an estimated 56 million Americans play fantasy sports. Efforts to block sites will likely result in employees finding workarounds. Although a fantasy league might temporarily distract from work, it can also represent an opportunity for coworkers to build relationships. Here are some benefits of allowing fantasy sports in the workplace:
Permitting use of fantasy sports sites at work shows that you treat your employees like adults. Americans who work full-time spend an average of 47 hours per week at work and work more hours than those in any other developed country, according to CNN. It’s only reasonable to allow a certain amount of diversion during a long work day, and it demonstrates that you trust your employees to use this privilege responsibly.
If employees are just playing with their own tight groups of friends, collaboration outside of the norm won’t happen. However, starting an interdepartmental fantasy league could build relationships that might not get started on their own. These new relationships could spark discussions about how the two parts of the company can work together.
Encouraging fun bonding activities for employees will have a positive effect on the workplace atmosphere. A survey from Quantum Workplace found that employees who play in fantasy sports leagues with their coworkers demonstrated higher levels of trust and teamwork. The study also found that these workers were actually 12% more engaged than workers who played in leagues with people from outside of work.
Any employer-sponsored fantasy sports league needs to be carefully crafted and have the approval of HR. Employers need to make it clear that gambling in the workplace is also prohibited. One study found that 70% of workers had at some point participated in an employee betting pool, according to HR Legalist. (Note that this is often for the NCAA basketball tournament or the Super Bowl, not necessarily fantasy sports.)
The idea that work and fun need to separate is on its way out. Employers who take advantage of workplace entertainment will have stronger teams and happier employees.