Team players: fantasy football in the workplace

Team players: fantasy football in the workplace

smiley face

That’s the sign of a productive worker.

Happiness is a non-numerical value that companies often ignore. But maybe they shouldn’t. An article by states that happiness can increase employee productivity by 10%. (source). Companies who ignore happiness and try to force productivity on employees might find a decrease in morale, loyalty and overall happiness.

So how can we increase happiness and productivity? Why not create a place where people can socialize and have some friendly banter or maybe talk about sports and their favorite players? People need a competitive landscape where winners grow in confidence and the underdog strives to win. Maybe this place can focus on Sundays and make Mondays that much better. This is all just a fantasy—or is it? In this blog, I’ll focus on how to utilize fantasy football as a quick win to increase overall employee productivity and happiness.

To start, let’s talk about why fantasy football is good for the office and how you can start a league:

It builds relationships!

Allowing employees to watch the FIFA World Cup during office hours was a great move for our company. Employees were allowed a timely break from their daily routine, which improved both relationships and overall happiness. Encouraging fantasy football leagues would have the same results and would not only build relationships but also help bring down walls between different departments. It can create conversations outside of forecasts and budgeting. And when it’s time to work, those strengthened relationships will make interacting and conducting business so much easier.

No bans allowed!

Bans are high risk and low reward. Ignoring the fact that employees will probably be messing with their fantasy lineups anyway might be a bad move. Banning leagues would decrease morale and loyalty, thus lowering productivity levels. So you might as well take advantage of the situation. Instead, allow employees to take time for their leagues, and employees will be happier and more productive.

Create company-wide leagues

Create an official company-wide league where people can team up and co-manage teams, or have a representative from each department manage a team. Have a prize for the winner and a consolation prize for the bottom dweller to keep the entire league engaged. It’s a great way to spark conversation, especially in small to midsize businesses. Company-wide camaraderie is a positive for productivity.

Draft day

Team-building events—they can be dull and boring and sometimes too forced on employees. Well, how about setting up a team-building event on…team-building?

This is different than the quarterly picnic or bowling trip. These events focus on getting people away from computers and giving their brains a refresh with other employees. Setting up an event during lunch hours or after work hours for the draft day is a great launch to the season. Believe it or not, people arguing over picks or teasing the person who took Jay Cutler in the first round tend to build relationships and gain loyalty among each other within the workplace.

What about those articles that say fantasy football negates productivity?

Of course there are naysayers that say fantasy football is bland decreases productivity. I don’t believe that at all.

Fantasy football costs companies over 10 billion dollars a year. Or so they say. The Washington Post has a list of all the “lost productivity” due to Facebook, insomnia and many others. It supposedly costs the US 1.8 trillion dollars.


I guess that’s where our national debt comes from…

Now, let’s do the math. For example (get ready for some super-advanced mathematics):

Company A has 500 workers with fantasy football teams making 20/hr at 40hr/wk. Those 500 workers spend 1 hour a week messing with their lineups for 15 weeks How much “lost productivity” do we get?

Multiplication… quadratic formula… ah… $150,000 in lost productivity.


Let’s say Company A decides to ban all fantasy football leagues from the office and ignores the fact that most full-time workers have smart phones and 4G. They make back that $150,000 in lost productivity dollars, but non-numerical values are being affected—ones that you can’t figure out with math. I’m talking about company morale, loyalty and overall happiness.

Now that Company A has banned fantasy football, company morale, loyalty, and overall happiness dips. This leads to disengaged employees and causes decreased productivity, low creativity and high turnover rates. This costs the company training time and replacement work, to name a few.

So Company A realizes their mistake and unbans the different leagues. Let’s apply the 10% increase in productivity from happiness, as stated by, to our previous situation.

The company paid 500 employees $6,000,000 in total dollars, and lost $150,000 in productivity. Take that happy 10% productivity increase and apply it to the total dollars. You get an increase of what?

Multiplication… quadratic formula… ah… $600,000 in increased productivity. So that’s how much of a difference?

Multiplication… quadratic formula… oh… $600,000 – $150,000 = $450,000 in happy money, or J money.

Well that just seems like a fantasy, doesn’t it? Not if you decide to take advantage of the fantasy football season as opposed to looking negatively at it.

In the end, the goal of fantasy football is to win. Everyone wants to win. Encouraging leagues, or even setting up a company-wide league, is a great way to increase morale, loyalty and overall happiness. There’s an infinite amount of ways to affect the 3 key values in productivity, but fantasy football is a quick win that everyone can enjoy. I know I’ll be participating in a league or two.

I just hope your company can turn fantasy into a reality.

I’d love to hear some stories on company leagues. If anyone would like to share their experiences and how their company treats the best 15 weeks of the year, feel free to comment below!