In what has become an annual proclamation, the business wires are rolling out the "shock and awe" figures related to Fantasy Football and its impact on workplace productivity. From a widely cited report:
"A recent study by Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based business consulting firm, reported nearly 37 million people nationwide spend almost one hour a week at work managing their fantasy teams, costing employers as much as $1.1 billion a week in lost productivity.
The 17-week NFL regular season, stretching from September through December, according to the study, results in a fourth-quarter $18.7 billion productivity loss.
Fantasy leagues are scoring participants faster than Peyton Manning throws touchdown passes, with North American participation growing from 8 million in 1998 to nearly 40 million this year, according to fantasy sports industry sources."
In a positive note, it looks like most of the bureaucrats have given up trying to control the madness. A glimmer of hope after years of puritan reflection and conference calls on how to control this American institution:
"There is a major decline in morale among younger workers when an employer is viewed as being too heavy handed in trying to micromanage employees’ activities, “If you want a non-productive Generation Y employee, put him on a short leash.”
Try to limit computer use at work, and younger employees will “whip out a BlackBerry or iPhone.”
“The focus should really be on an employee’s ability to meet goals and objectives,” “not how those goals and objectives are met.”
“Companies could actually use fantasy football leagues as a way to bring employees together,” “Employers spend a lot of money to get their employees to bond, and here’s a way.”
So, what are your choices as a HR Lead for your company? Three choices, with sub flavors, seem to be available:
1. Police it, either directly or by shutting down access to search terms and sites known to host leagues (see ESPN for a big volume player);
2. Embrace it, and run a contest (don't think you want to embrace betting on this type of thing, unless you are a HR pro in Vegas?), maybe with some prize money going to the non-profit of the winner's choice; or
3. Ignore it and let nature run its course (which is what most people will do).
Many of you won't have a choice since you work for large employers who won't touch this with a ten foot
goal pole. As for me, with my Midwestern roots, my league team is aptly named "Mike Martz Will Destroy You All", a shout out to the glory days with Kurt Warner and the Rams. Not a warm and fuzzy HR-friendly name, but it will do....