September 2, 2013
Why bosses shouldn't always be down on fantasy football
Ready for some football? Maybe not if you’re an office manager.
Not when the kind of production your employees are most worried about involves rushing yards and pass completions. Or when the biggest trades they are contemplating involve New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and a player to be named later, not blue chip stocks.
For some bosses, the start of the fantasy-football season might bring to mind the famous quote by former Tampa Bay football coach John McKay. When asked after another loss what he thought of his team’s execution, he replied, “I’m in favor of it.”
Who can blame office managers if they feel the same way when they find employees huddling around the water cooler to discuss team standings and player injuries rather than the project they’ve been assigned?
Calling the plays
Terri Dougherty, associate editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, a nationally recognized compliance resource firm, says that it doesn’t have to be that way.
The fantasy-football season, she says, can be a positive influence in the workplace rather than a source of the types of headaches more commonly induced by violent collisions on the field.
Dougherty, who has written about whether fantasy football helps or hinders the workplace, says that it all starts with the office manager. As the quarterback of the workplace, he or she must establish the game plan when it comes to fantasy football and time management.
“You have to be aware of the general atmosphere in the department and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand,” she says.
That might mean limiting fantasy-football discussions to lunch breaks or before and after shifts. It might mean reminding employees that computers are to be used for work, not checking the waiver wire.
Or it might mean talking to individual employees who become so wrapped up in their team’s performance on the field that it affects their performance at the cubicle.
“You can’t be afraid to address it because it is an issue of productivity, as fun as (fantasy football) may be,” she says.
At the same time, an office does not have to be a No Fun League when it comes to fantasy football. Dougherty says that there are ways to incorporate the competition into the workplace.
For instance, set aside time on Mondays to allow employees to use a lunch or conference room to discuss weekend results.
The season also could serve as a conversation starter for managers in interacting with their employees or in helping new workers to acclimate and feel valued.
And if you can’t beat ’em, join them.
Managers may want to consider establishing a fantasy football league for the office, making sure to set limits to avoid problems. Dougherty says that such a league could help with team-building and morale.
“It can be a way for employees to get together to release stress, talk about something other than work and get rid of the pressures of the work day,” she says.
By giving employees leeway to support a hobby within the confines of the workplace, it shows that “you are trusting them that they can get their work done. You’re not micromanaging,” she says.
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