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August 24, 2015

Why employers should let their workers play fantasy football on the job

Report says fantasy football costs employers $16B a year, but it's worth it

A report from an executive coaching consultancy urges bosses to "embrace the fantasy fanaticism" and let their employees check on their fantasy football leagues at the job – even though the costs are an estimated $16 billion a year in lost work time.

The firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas estimated that 37.5 million football fanatics in the U.S. and Canada devote an hour each week to checking on their fantasy teams while they're supposed to be on the clock. (The report said that 66 percent of fantasy football participants are employed full time – make of that statistic what you will.)

Multiply that the average U.S. wage, and then again by 17 – the number of weeks in the football season and pre-season – and you get a seemingly gigantic cost to employers. So why should bosses pay you to check your fantasy team at work?

“Unless you are J.J. Watt, who appears to put in 100 percent during every hour of his workday, it is impossible to reach full productivity. We would burn out within a week," said John Challenger, CEO of the consulting firm.

Challenger, who admitted that he himself belongs to several fantasy leagues, pointed to a 2006 Ipsos survey in which 40 percent of workers said that fantasy sports helps increase camaraderie in the workplace. One in five workers say that bonding over fantasy sports has helped them make a valuable business contact.

"We need distractions during the day, whether it’s checking Facebook, scanning Twitter, buying something at, or managing one’s fantasy football team. It may seem counter-intuitive, but those short periods of being unproductive help workers be more productive in the long run," said Challenger.

Several productivity studies back up his point. A 2011 study from the University of Illinois found that brief diversions from work improve focus. Another experiment in 2014 found that the most productive employees take regular breaks every hour.

And if fantasy football isn't your distraction of choice, you can take to heart this Japanese study that found that people are more productive after looking at pictures of cute baby animals. A.k.a.: the Internet.