According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, more than 33 million people register and play fantasy football each year. The popular game has enabled many a sports enthusiast to engage with like-minded fans in friendly competition, playful banter, and of course- living out the dream of managing their own professional sports team. Even non-football fans have dabbled in the cultural phenomenon.
As an employer, you might be asking, “Why should I care about fantasy football?” Because fantasy football presents itself as the perfect opportunity to drum up employee engagement and create a stronger teamwork environment, that’s why!
Employee engagement is everything. Disengaged employees are 250% more likely to leave their jobs for one that boasts a more interactive environment. That is bad news for any company struggling with low involvement and high turnover rates. In a poll of employees from companies across the U.S., 66% of respondents claimed the lack of involvement made them believe their managers did not care. Not having something to keep them engaged could lead to feelings of being stressed, unappreciated, and in some cases, disdained.
A Quantum Workplace survey collected data from nearly 1,500 employees to explore the correlation between employee engagement and an employee’s involvement with fantasy football. They found that employees who participated in fantasy football with coworkers were engaged at work by nearly 12% more than those who were not. There are a few reasons why fantasy football is a great way to boost employee morale and keep them engaged (for at least 17 weeks).
Fantasy football is a social event. Hosting a fantasy football draft event is great opportunity to gather with league members for snacks, conversation, and competitive gameplay. The office atmosphere makes hosting a draft event simple. You already have the computers each person will need to draft their team right in the room. Employees can talk and get to know each other without the stress of the work environment. You can even invite employees who are not part of the league to share snacks and be part of the bonding experience. Just make sure no one spills queso on the copier!
Fantasy football fosters communication and builds confidence. Did Steve from marketing ever have a reason to approach and speak to Dave in accounting? Has your sales team ever had a conversation with someone in the human resources department? Do you even know when your employees stopped talking to each other? As it goes, people are most likely to group and bond with the individuals they work closely with. Departments form cliques and begin to work together as their own team, shutting out the possibility of asking anyone else in the office for their input. Being part of an office fantasy league brings out the communicator in everyone. Sure, a majority of the conversation may start in the form of trade proposals, competitive banter, recapping injury reports, and game highlights. But before you know it, it’s the catalyst to other open-ended conversations and collaboration about company projects and goals. Now, someone in the office who never felt comfortable speaking up in conversations might gain the confidence to start one by simply saying, “Hey Dave, did you catch the game last night?”
Fantasy football strengthens relationships. In the survey, it was also discovered that employees playing in a fantasy league with coworkers have higher scores on items measuring teamwork and trust with coworkers. You may fear that employees who become too dedicated to the game might get into arguments over league rules or trade proposals. While that is a possibility, more often than not, fantasy football rallies people together. Managed and celebrated effectively, fantasy football creates the opportunity for employees to create relationships. It makes The Cleveland Browns seem interesting and gives you a truly solid excuse to bond with coworkers.
Fantasy football enhances employee engagement. As an employer, you want your employees to enjoy their work and be engaged in office culture. Leaders of great workplaces invest time in fostering connection between employees. Of those surveyed, an overwhelming amount of respondents tended to have a more positive view of their company’s leadership when they showed commitment to creating an interactive workplace. The competition of fantasy sports gives everyone the opportunity to be engaged both in and outside of the office.
Being a part of an office’s fantasy football league and culture presents great social opportunities. With football gaining popularity as America’s pastime, there is a unifying dynamic to following the game. More and more companies are finding that company leagues a significantly beneficial to morale and overall productivity. Still not sure if you should allow employees to create a company league? Well, before you head into your human resources department to argue the facts, consider this, the survey canvassed some 100 human resources professionals. About two thirds of them said they are into fantasy football themselves.
This is part of our Fantasy Football Engagement Series. Our other updates in this series include:
# 1 Yes, Fantasy Football is Good for Your Workplace
#2 Levy League Update: Draft Day
#3 Levy League Update: Improved Communication (Weeks 1-4)
#4 Levy League Update: Resolving Conflicts (Weeks 5-10)
#5 Levy League Update: Employee Relationships (Weeks 11-Championship)