It’s that time of year. The air is turning crisper, and football is creeping into conversations. Many managers and leaders worry that football is a workplace distraction. And it’s a natural concern. When you see people’s phones and computers loaded up with NFL information instead of the most pressing business projects, it can be alarming.
However, if you are worried about your employees doing their jobs, that is the problem – not football. When used effectively, fantasy football can be a uniting activity that creates more positive energy and commitment than without.
Try these three ways to use fantasy football as a culture enhancer:
Support a company-wide fantasy football league.
Don’t fight the football frenzy. It is a large force out there. Cited in a Forbes article from last year, around 33 million people participate annually in fantasy football. It can be a fun activity for anyone in the company.
At Fierce, the league adds value. Fantasy football is a grassroots effort by individuals in the company who want to make it happen. There are no defined company resources allocated besides our office space. However, fiercelings can make the case if there are other desired budgets or resources. People look forward to this time of year, and ultimately, it adds energy and fun camaraderie in the office.
Insert the topic into conversations.
Fantasy football can bridge different departments and titles. It gives a common interest and topic of conversation. I encourage you to talk about the status of the league or leagues in scheduled meetings and events, when appropriate.
At our Fierce sales and marketing meetings, people talk about the league and what lessons they are learning as the season goes on. This is a great way to learn something new about football and your colleagues.
Encourage respect and learning.
The reality is that some people have zero interest in fantasy football, or football for that matter. Football is an opportunity to show respect to people with all levels of participation. It is important that you do not favor people in any way. Encourage others to talk about their interests as well - who knows what that will bring. Perhaps a company-wide chess tournament? A marathon of black and white films?
The point is, when people feel cared for and listened to – they care about their work and the people around them on a deeper level.
So tell me, does your company have a fantasy league? How does it help or hinder your workplace?