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Tip of the Month – The Start of Fantasy Football May Equate To a Decline in Employee Productivity

The National Football League regular season kicked off on September 9th, with 27.5 million viewers tuning in to watch the Minnesota Vikings take on Super Bowl Champions the New Orleans Saints.  While the NFL coaches analyze team playbooks, millions of fans analyze statistics for their fantasy players.  According to USA Today, 37 million people spend an average of 50 minutes per week looking at their fantasy team during work hours.  This fantasy team obsession costs employers $1.1 billion per week in productivity.  In fact, last December, four employees in Texas were fired for running office fantasy pools against company policy.

It is important for employers to have a set policy on internet usage in the workplace, and to enforce such a policy equally.  First of all, employers must decide whether they will allow office pools.  While the pool can be a morale booster, it also can involve illegal gambling and create a major distraction.  As to gambling, most employers prohibit this with good reason and fantasy football should not be an exception.  Regarding the distraction issue, turn to your internet usage policy.  Most employers at least limit Internet usage and that covers this issue.  Finally, make sure fantasy football downloads do not bring unwanted viruses into the office. 

Overall, employers need to decide whether they want to make an issue out of fantasy leagues in the office.  Regardless of this answer, employers should have in place all the policies needed to address this issue.  If you do not, maybe now is the time to create the policies needed to address general employment issues, before your employee relations run out of control.