Should You Tackle Fantasy Football in the Workplace?


The fantasy football season is heading into its home stretch—and whether you are aware of it or not, chances are some of your employees have been participating in this popular winter pastime. In fact, a survey conducted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports that as of 2015, a staggering 56.8 million people in the USA and Canada are playing fantasy sports.

What does that mean for your business? Well, a lot of things. Some good and some not-so-good.

For starters, and the most obvious: a potential loss of productivity. According to a recent study conducted by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, it’s projected that in 2015 businesses will lose nearly $16 billion in productivity because employees may be using their smartphones and company computers to analyze the amount of TDs Hawaii Heisman trophy finalist Marcus Mariota will throw rather than focusing on their work.

For all the “it’s unproductive” arguments, it might be helpful to consider fantasy football as a way to help with productivity. Some advocate that although it seems counterintuitive, short periods of being unproductive may help workers be more productive in the long run. Additionally, fantasy football could be a welcome opportunity for employees to bond with one another, build camaraderie, and help make work fun—and that’s good for employers, employees, and business.

So should you tackle fantasy football in the workplace? It’s a difficult decision. Ask yourself: would you consider fantasy football leagues as a way to build camaraderie amongst employees, or are you of the belief that these types of activities limit productivity? If you decide to allow fantasy sports (it’s not just football), it’s important that you clearly communicate your stance with your employees, preferably in writing. Here are a few guidelines you may want to consider implementing:

  • Set a time limit – Fantasy football activities should be strictly prohibited on company time. Limit them to breaks, lunch hours, etc.
  • Clearly state gambling laws – If your employees have a monetary component to their office play, clearly describe what type of gambling is allowed and what type of gambling is legal in Hawaii (social). Check out our March Madness office pool post and Hawaii’s social gambling law for clarity on what’s legal and not legal.
  • Set parameters – Your written policy should clearly state that employees are prohibited from using company property to participate in any online gambling, including fantasy sports leagues.
  • Communicate consequences – Just as important as clearly defining rules for playing fantasy football at work, it’s also very important to clearly define and communicate the consequences for breaking company policy.