Is America’s Favorite Pastime Wreaking Havoc on Productivity?

October 30, 2014
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With the growing popularity of fantasy leagues, America’s favorite pastime, football, is a full-time occupation that is no longer reserved for Sundays. Managing players and tracking statistics increasingly distracts workers from the responsibilities of their full-time jobs. According to global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., workers who play fantasy football are estimated to spend a minimum of two hours a day managing their teams. Lost productivity may equal $14 billion! “We are not trying to demonize fantasy football,” CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement. “It is important to understand that there are more distractions than ever in today’s workplace. If it’s not fantasy football, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip, shopping on Amazon, or checking Facebook.” For those companies concerned that such distractions are hurting their bottom line, football season (much like basketball’s March Madness) is a good time to remind employees about their obligations, including the duty to perform work for their pay. The company’s computer policies should be emphasized as many restrict non-work related Internet activity and/or restrict access to certain websites on electronic devices provided by the company. In order to make these policies effective, however, they should be strictly enforced. On the other end of the spectrum, employers can also take the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach. Since employees frequently skirt workplace restrictions by using their personal devices, organizing a company-wide fantasy football league can result in a beneficial boost to morale and camaraderie in the office. As sports betting is illegal in most jurisdictions, employee policies should expressly state that fantasy football pools involving money are not acceptable in the workplace. In addition to potential criminal liability, gambling among co-workers can also lead to potentially disruptive interpersonal disputes. If you have concerns about how fantasy football may be impacting your workplace or want to discuss the legal issues involved, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck Labor and Employment attorney with whom you work.