Workplace Fantasy Football and Employee Engagement


    Last year 74.7 million Americans planned on participating in a fantasy football league—nearly a quarter of the entire population of America. With players spending about 4.6 billion on fantasy football annually and the average player devoting 12 hours a week to the hobby, fantasy sports have become big business. With an estimated 35 percent of employees participating in fantasy sports in the workplace, here are a few things to consider before deciding whether or not your company might benefit from starting a fantasy football league in the upcoming season.

Cautiously punt? Why you should refrain

The legality of fantasy football in the office is a big question, and as such it is not recommended that your business outright sanction a fantasy football league. Clearly stating Hawaii State gambling laws and ensuring that any sort of fantasy sports pools remain social with no monetary component is a good first step. Finding an old trophy or memento that travels from winner to winner should be enough to satisfy the competitive streak in your employees. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

        • Participating in an office pool could be construed as gambling—which can lead to a misdemeanor conviction, a $2,000 fine, and a year in jail.
        • As defined in the Hawaii Revised Statues, Division 5 section 712-1231, social gambling cannot be conducted in public areas and places of business, including bars, offices, and restaurants.
        • Creating a pool with a monetary component and taking a percentage is a Class C felony, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and five years in jail.
        • If you have younger employees at your worksite, be mindful that minors cannot participate in any social gambling activities.

In addition to questions of legality, distracted employees can also weigh heavily on your business’ efficiency and hamper productivity. Fantasy football alone is estimated to cost $13.4 billion a season in lost productivity for businesses. Making sure to establish a policy for when and where your employees may participate in fantasy sports and defining the parameters for using company property to do so can help provide a context for fantasy football in the workplace and keep employees focused on larger goals.

Go for it on 4th down? Why you should play

Football is by far the most popular sport in the islands. It is very likely a subset of your workforce is already participating in pools with coworkers outside of work. In a difficult hiring market, where finding and retaining good people is a challenge, making an effort to make the workplace a more social, welcoming place is worth the experiment. While most popular among millennial-aged males, nearly 40 percent of employees participating in fantasy football are female. Fantasy football can bring a workplace together and create shared, common experiences among employees of different backgrounds.

With only 32% of employees actively engaged in their workplace, any efforts to deepen the attachment an employee has for his/her employer and its goals are positive. It’s been reported those participating in a fantasy football league with a coworker were significantly more engaged at work than those who did not play fantasy football at all1.

Our point after

In determining whether or not fantasy football is right for your workplace, be conscientious of the both sides of the argument. If your end goal is bringing your employees closer together, then fantasy football, team outings, or even happy hour, can spur employee engagement and translate into real-world wins for you and your company. If you feel compliance is the more valuable play, then be confident of your position and make certain its communicated clearly to your employees. Either decision makes sense, depending on your team in your huddle and the path you are planning for the end zone.