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19 September 2013

Fantasy Football

Hello readers,

Today I bring an entry with a different swing to what you might be used to, but as a recent acquisition of the SoVibrant strategy team I want to talk about something that has helped me to settle in, blend in with the team, and embed nicely into the social set up here!

I know a lot of business have the same at this time of year and it may cause as many a Monday morning talking point as it does here, we are of course talking about Fantasy Football. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) roughly 33 million wannabe general managers worldwide will be studying the stats and trends involving goalkeepers, sturdy defenders, midfield maestros, and super strikers as they prepare for their fantasy football league pick.

It is always nice to find a common ground topic when starting a new job which does not revolve around your work and everyday tasks, and with a growing team here, the SoVibrant Fantasy Football League Championship is a good ice breaker to get everyone involved and talking, whilst also introducing (a small but healthy amount....) of office competition. Let’s face it, if you have ever played before, we all think we are a Jose Mourinho or Brian Clough, but the tables never lie and you all soon find out the who’s who when it comes to the seasons competition.

For the little time and effort this takes to create teams and leagues, there are, according to Human Resources website ‘HR Benefits Alert’ many benefits to companies when allowing workers to participate in the activity, these benefits include:

  • Improved employee morale. The fact is people love the game, and when workers feel their employers trust them to do the right thing (i.e. not letting work performance or productivity become affected), they tend to not let it do so.

  • Increased interdepartmental communication. Fantasy football gives employees a reason to talk to other staff they may not ordinarily talk to. For example, a sales rep may be able to talk to the CEO because their teams are fighting it out for top spot, or an accountant may approach the Head of Marketing with a selection tip. It’s a catalyst for a level of communication some employees wouldn't ordinarily have with each other.

  •  Better customer relations. It’s not out of the ordinary to see salespeople contact individuals with whom they've had a long and prosperous business relationship, but to then invite them into the fantasy league?! It speaks volumes! A great way to keep staff, customers and suppliers in mind of each other through a non-work related, fun avenue. Most die-hard fantasy football players are in multiple leagues anyway and most leagues are always looking for new entrants as we all try to stamp our authority and be labelled the “Football oracle” for the summer while the season is out.

15 percent of organisations actually prohibit employees from participating in fantasy sports leagues, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) due to a supposed fall in productivity when involving Fantasy Football in the workplace. But the same report issued the top three areas HR professionals perceived are positively affected by office Fantasy Leagues are relationship building, team building, and employee loyalty, SHRM said.

The report continues to say employers that encourage participation in fantasy football leagues could actually see benefits:

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty. The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day”, (especially when it’s done over a lunch break here at SoVibrant), “Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organising a company league are likely to see significant benefits in morale. In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

In an age now where an ever increasing amount of employees take their work home and even on vacation with them as some studies suggest, clever managers are letting certain fun aspects into the workplace as to be able to keep the balance right with their staff, the end argument boils down to the work-life balance, which in turn is a much debated topic throughout the business world.

What I can confirm is there seems to be no clear downside to the fantasy football league here at SoVibrant, it has helped to knit the new starters together faster and has created a real buzz around the office with each showing our competitive streak and will to win, a will to win and desire to be the best which transfers not only into our fantasy football picks, but in our work ethos and attitude towards any project or task we begin.

And on a final note, I will be happy to collect my trophy at the end of the season......Thanks!

Mark Kitching
Strategy Assistant

(Images courtesy of fantasy.premierleague.com)

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