It’s That Time Again! Fantasy Football Sacks The Workplace

With the opening kick-off of the National Football League exactly one week from today, many of the estimated 25 million Americans participating in fantasy football have already completed their drafts.  However, this is little solace for the nation’s employers who can expect the fantasy sports enthusiasts in the office to spend at least an hour of work time managing their teams each week during the 13- to 17-week season.

While virtually impossible to estimate the impact of fantasy football team management on overall productivity, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. notes that the latest government data indicate that average hourly earnings for non-farm, private-sector employees was $23.98 in July.  Continue reading

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2012 Fantasy Football Report

With less than two weeks to go before the opening kick-off in the National Football League season, the estimated 24.3 million Americans who participate in fantasy football leagues will undoubtedly spend several hours in the coming days fine-tuning their draft selections and opening-day rosters.  Unfortunately for the nation’s employers, some of the time spent on player research may come during business hours.

 According to a very rough, non-scientific, non-verifiable estimate, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., if 22.3 million American workers spend one hour each week managing their fantasy football team during the average 15-week fantasy football season, the cost to the nation’s employers in terms of wages paid to unproductive workers could approach $6.5 billion.

“Before fantasy football players around the country launch a letter-writing campaign lambasting our numbers, it is important to realize that even if this figure was verifiable and accurate, it would not even register as a blip on the economic radar,” said noted John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Employers will not see any impact on their bottom line and, for the most part, business will proceed as usual.  However, even if the economic impact is faint, it is important to acknowledge fantasy football’s overall impact as a societal and workplace phenomenon.  Companies that embrace the growing popularity of this activity could actually see a positive impact, particularly in terms of employee sentiment and loyalty.  Those that try to squash employees’ use of time and the company Internet for fantasy football could see consequences far worse than a few distracted workers,” he noted.

How did the firm reach its estimate?  It assumed that 8.2 percent of the 24.3 million fantasy football participants (as estimated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association) are unemployed, leaving about 22.3 million employed team managers.  The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that weekly earnings for all Americans in the second quarter averaged $773 or $19.33 per hour.  Assuming on the conservative side that fantasy football participants spend one hour each week researching stats and tweaking their rosters, the firm multiplied the $19.33 figure by the 22.3 million employed participants.  That results in a dollar amount of approximately $430.9 million each week in unproductive wages paid by employers to fantasy footballers.  Multiply that by 15 weeks and the total reaches $6.46 billion. Continue reading

Over 21 Million Fantasy Sports Players, Should Employers Worry

With less than two weeks to go before the opening kick-off in the National Football League season, fantasy football participants across the country are undoubtedly spending more time than usual fine-tuning their draft selections and rosters due to a lock-out shortened pre-season.  Unfortunately for the nation’s employers, some of the extra time spent on player research may come during business hours.

However, even with an estimated 21.3 million full-time workers participating in fantasy sports each year, with some spending as much as nine hours per week managing their teams, the impact on overall workplace productivity is negligible, according to the workplace experts at global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“In an information-based economy, productivity is very difficult to measure.  And the same widespread access to the internet from our desks, phones and laptops that allows people to manage their fantasy teams from any place at any time, also allows work to be completed outside of traditional 9-to-5 work hours,” saidJohn A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

According to statistics from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the number of people participating in fantasy sports in theUnited States and Canada has grown 60 percent over the past four years to 32 million.  The Association’s research indicates that 19 percent of full-time workers in theU.S.have played fantasy sports in the past year.  That comes to about 21,253,000 workers.

Football is, of course, the most popular fantasy sport, played by roughly 80 percent of all fantasy sports participants.  According to market research, players spend up to nine hours a week planning and plotting their strategies for weekly matchups in 70 million free and paid leagues (the average player belongs to 2.5 leagues).

“It is impossible to determine how much of that weekly prep time is spent during work hours.  It is even more difficult to determine how time spent managing teams during work hours actually impacts productivity or the company’s bottom line,” said Challenger.

“If you look at a company’s third and fourth quarter earnings statements, it is unlikely that you will find a fantasy football effect.  The impact is more likely to be seen by department managers and team leaders, who have a better sense of their workers’ day-to-day work flow.  Even at level, though, it might not be worth cracking down on fantasy football, unless the quantity or quality of an individual’s work drops off significantly,” he added.

A survey conducted during the 2010 football season by Challenger found that fantasy football had little to no impact on productivity.  Ranking the level of distraction on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no noticeable impact, nearly 70 percent said four or lower.  Less than eight percent of respondents said the level of distraction rated a 7 or 8 and none of the respondents felt the phenomenon deserved a 9 or 10.

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty.  The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day.

“Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organizing company leagues are likely to see significant benefits in morale as well as productivity,” Challenger said. “In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

In a 2006 Ipsos survey, 40 percent of respondents said fantasy sports participation was a positive influence in the workplace.  Another 40 percent said it increases camaraderie among employees.  One in five said their involvement in fantasy sports enabled them to make a valuable business contact.

Furthermore, a more recent study by researchers at the National University of Singapore found that occasional non-work-related web browsing at the office can refresh tired workers and enhance overall productivity.

Despite evidence of fantasy football’s positive impact on the workplace,  less than eight percent those surveyed by Challenger last season said their companies “embrace” fantasy football participation as a morale-boosting activity and none of the employers represented officially organized leagues.

 

 

Fantasy Football: Not Killing Productivity

Fantasy Football Is Not Killing the Economy

With three weeks of the NFL season in the books, the big question is whether fantasy football leagues are sapping the nation’s workplace productivity. According to human resource professionals from around the country, the answer is a resounding NO.

In a survey by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the majority of respondents said fantasy football had little to no impact on productivity. Ranking the level of distraction on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no noticeable impact, nearly 70 percent said four or lower. Less than eight percent of respondents said the level of distraction rated a 7 or 8 and none of the respondents felt the phenomenon deserved a 9 or 10.

“Other surveys show that people are indeed managing their fantasy teams from work. However, what we are hearing from the human resources community is that this is not at all affecting the level of output workers are expected to deliver,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The Challenger survey found that about one in five employers block access to sports and fantasy football websites. However, many simply look the other way with nearly half (46.2 percent) saying they do not care if employees spend part of their workday on fantasy football, as long as the quality and quantity of output does not decline. About 22 percent said they merely ask workers to limit fantasy football and other personal activities to lunch and other break times.

“It is difficult for companies to take a hard-line stance against fantasy football. The internet technology that helped fuel the rapid growth of fantasy football participation and makes it possible to manage teams from one’s desk also makes it possible for employees to attend to work duties during their personal time,” said Challenger.

Fantasy football is becoming so popular it may be difficult for employers to stop it, even if they wanted to. A 2008 study by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimated that 27.1 million Americans participate in fantasy sports, with 75 percent of those or roughly 20.3 million playing fantasy football. That was up from 17 million fantasy sports participants and 13.6 million fantasy football players estimated by the Association just a couple of years prior.

Meanwhile, other studies from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association indicate that fantasy sports participants spend about three to four hours on the Internet per week, with nearly 1.2 hours of that time at the office.

“Managers should only crack down on those whose work is clearly suffering from the added distraction. An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty. The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day,” said Challenger.

“Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organizing a company leagues are likely to see significant benefits in morale as well as productivity,” Challenger said. “In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

A 2006 Ipsos Survey, 40 percent of respondents said fantasy sports participation was a positive influence in the workplace. Another 40 percent said it increases camaraderie among employees. One in five said their involvement in fantasy sports enabled them to make a valuable business contact.

Despite these impressive figures, less than eight percent of the Challenger survey participants said their companies “embrace” fantasy football participation as a morale-boosting activity and none of the employers represented officially organized leagues.

The Challenger survey was conducted online among approximately 100 respondents from the end of August through late-September. Interestingly, about 65 percent of those polled said they participate in fantasy football leagues, either with co-workers, friends outside of work or both.

2010 FANTASY FOOTBALL SURVEY

On a scale of 1 to 10, please rate the level of distraction or impact on the workplace productivity resulting from employee participation in fantasy football leagues.

(1 being no noticeable impact at all and 10 being an obvious or measurable impact)

1: 19.2%
2: 26.9%
3: 12.5%
4: 10.5%
5: 7.7%
6: 15.4%
7: 4.6%
8: 3.2%
9: 0
10: 0
Average Rating: 3.42

Does your company take any steps to discourage employees from partaking in fantasy football activities at the office?

No, we don’t care, as long as the quality of worker output does not decline. 46.2%

We block access to sports and fantasy football websites. 24.0%

We ask that they limit such activities to lunch or other breaks. 22.1%

No. In fact, we embrace fantasy football as a morale-boosting activity. 7.7%

We prohibit use of company computers for personal activities. 0

Does your company formally organize a fantasy football league for workers?

No, but I am aware of one or more employee-organized leagues. 65.4%

No, we see fantasy football as a distraction. 30.8%

No, but we don’t discourage it. 3.8%

Yes 0

We leave it up to department heads. 0

Do you participate in a fantasy football league, either with co-workers or friends outside of work?

Yes, with friends 38.5%

I do not participate in a fantasy football league 34.6%

Yes, with both co-workers and friends 19.2%

Yes, with co-workers 7.7%

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.©