There are many ways to team build within an organization, but perhaps none more fun and engaging than team building through fantasy football. According to a 2015 Quantum Workplace poll, 16.6% of workers participated in fantasy football in general, with 51.8% of those participating in a league with a coworker. Further, this same poll revealed respondents who participated in a league with a co-worker ranked 12 percentage points higher on an engagement scale than their counterparts who did not play in a fantasy football work league. Those who play with their coworkers also rated higher on trust among team members and teamwork. The results from a recent GutCheck Instant Research Group echoed the same sentiment. Winning a prize pool and/or gaining bragging rights among your friends or coworkers can be very motivating, but fantasy football is clearly about more than just winning and losing; the social aspect appears to be one of the biggest draws.
Why is this? Where does this increase in camaraderie come from? Essentially, fantasy football opens up lines of communication that might not otherwise exist. In an increasingly PC world, acceptable conversation topics in the workplace are dwindling. With topics like religion or politics thrown out the window, sports is a natural go-to topic that is pretty universal. If you sprinkle a little friendly competition into the mix on a topic many people are comfortable with, conversations with those at your office that you generally wouldn’t interact with become more free-flowing and less forced. Just make sure you keep your “smack-talk” significantly lighter than you would in a league with your college buddies!
This need for something external outside of the typical day-to-day minutiae of an office environment is especially true at a company like ours, which is blessed to be able to hire talent from across the country. At GutCheck, we have fans of the Bengals, Patriots, Colts, Steelers, 49ers, Bears, Chargers, and being a Denver-based company, a bevy of Broncos fans. This diversity of fandom leads to a lot of banter and communication that wouldn’t necessarily exist without the incredible popularity of the NFL. Additionally, placing friendly bets increases engagement with your coworkers. This is especially true for bets that include some aspect of public shaming, as these bets engage everyone at the office, and often times create hilarious dialogue.
Some side bets that have happened at our office this year include controlling an opposing player’s desktop background for a week, wearing a rival team’s jersey for a day, and my personal favorite, decorating a Bengals fan’s desk for an entire week:
Increasing engagement and morale is paramount in today’s working world. A recent Gallup survey showed a whopping 70 percent of the workforce is not engaged at work. Successful companies take great steps to foster a cohesive and engaging culture for their employees. Clever leaders are able to leverage the interests of their staff. Encouraging group participation at work in a game that many are likely to be playing anyway is a great avenue towards high employee satisfaction and engagement. Fantasy football is a cruel mistress, often times maddeningly frustrating, yet there is so much that can be redeemed when viewed through the lens of team building. In an office culture shared among people of diverse and varied backgrounds, with different viewpoints and sentiments, fantasy football can be the great equalizer!
In case you missed it, check out our report for the fantasy football study we conducted earlier this winter.