Sports Engagement at Work

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Sports Engagement at Work

March Madness (basketball), Soccer World Cup, Olympics, NFL, and NFL Fantasy Football are major sports or sporting events that employees in the United States watch or engage in during their workday. A third (34%) of white-collar professionals in the United States planned on watching the 2018 FIFA World Cup and nearly half (49%) of them planned to do so at work.

March Madness (Basketball)

  • March Madness is among three of the major sporting events that Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network considers an employee engagement and retention tool.
  • Seventy-three percent of workers "look forward to going to work more when they participate in office sports bracket contests like college basketball’s March Madness tournament".
  • According to the research findings of Robert Half, a staffing firm, 72% of managers believe that March Madness improves employee morale and 52% say that it improves productivity. Three in four employers (75%) do not resist office March Madness fervor, with many embracing the tournament by organizing festivities.
  • Companies celebrate the tournament by allowing employees to wear team apparel (43%), watch games in office (29%), and decorate their workspaces (28%).
  • An estimated 75 million workers spent six hours on March Madness-related activities at work in 2019. This resulted in a productivity loss of $13.3 billion in the United States.
  • Actualize Consulting, a financial consulting firm, which has a rigid policy against watching sports in office, now allows employees to take a coupe of hours off at work to watch sports, provided they make up for that time. The bosses at the firm also run an NCAA (March Madness) pool "in which the winnings can be used for wellness purchases like gym memberships or treadmills".

Soccer World Cup

  • World Cup soccer is among three of the major sporting events that Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network considers an employee engagement and retention tool.
  • The 2019 Women's Football World Cup finals drew a record audience of 6.1 million people in the United States, despite the fact that it was not running on prime time.
  • World Cup soccer offers firms to learn about multiculturalism at the workplace and allows employees to learn of their coworker’s roots, resulting in greater camaraderie among them.
  • EasyVista, a global software company that also operates in the United States, created an application to engage employees in friendly competition during the World Cup. Employees picked a team they thought would win in each of the tournament rounds and were awarded points, which were tallied at the end to name the winner.
  • A third (34%) of white-collar professionals in the United States had plans to watch the men's FIFA World Cup 2018, of which 49% planned on watching the tournament during the workday (despite the fact that the United States wasn't playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup), resulting in a productivity loss of $3.6 billion.
  • Nearly a fifth of white-collar workers identified themselves as "professional soccer fans": 28% millennials, 18% Gen Xers, and 8% Boomers.
  • The World Cup gives Americans a sense of nationalism and unity as they cheer their country team (one team across the population, unlike the NFL, for example).

Olympics

  • The Olympics is among three of the major sporting events that Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network considers an employee engagement and retention tool.
  • Seventy-two percent of white-collar professionals in the United States planned on watching the Summer Olympics in 2016 and 57% planned to watch an hour a day at work. This is estimated to result in a productivity loss of $5.4 billion.
  • Fifty-seven percent of professionals planned on discussing the Summer Olympics with their peers at the workplace: millennials (62%), Gen-Xers (54%), and Baby Boomers (21%).
  • The Olympics give Americans a sense of nationalism and unity as they cheer their country team (one team across the population, unlike the NFL, for example).

NFL (The Super Bowl)

  • With 77% business professionals planning on watching the Super Bowl, the game is hyped across offices.
  • Thirty-eight percent of white-collar workers planned on taking part in Super Bowl squares or another office pool with their co-workers. Gen Xers (44%) and were the most likely generation to gamble on the game in the office.
  • Thirty-eight percent of employees planned on discussing the game at work and 46% planned on discussing commercials. Thirty-four percent of professionals are likely to discuss NFL at the water cooler.
  • Super Bowl Monday costs companies $4 billion in productivity.

NFL Fantasy Football (eSports)

  • Of the between 60 and 75 million individuals who play Fantasy Football, half work in full-time jobs. It is estimated that 39 million individuals participate in Fantasy Football during work.
  • Assuming that Fantasy Football players engage in one hour per week of Fantasy Football for the 17 weeks of the tournament, the productivity loss is $16 billion.
  • According to a Society of Human Resources (SHRM) survey, only 15% of firms disallowed playing Fantasy Sports.
  • The top three benefits of allowing Fantasy Sports at work: relationship building (70%), team building (64%), and employee engagement (54%).
  • Fantasy Football players spend 6.9 hours of work time on their teams.

Research Strategy

As the ultimate objective of the research is to gather data and insights on watching or engaging in sport at the workplace, we have included the Olympics (an event) even though it is not limited to one particular sport. Also, the Super Bowl has been included as workers engage in pools and discussions even though they do not watch the games during working hours. The major sporting events were identified using research findings of Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network and from Balance Career's list of sporting events identified as most likely to sap productivity.
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Quotes
  • "Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network embraces sports in its office. The big sporting events they consider as employee engagement and retention tools in the workplace are March Madness, the Olympics and the World Cup soccer."
  • "In the same study, 73 percent of workers say they look forward to going to work more when they participate in office sports bracket contests like college basketball’s March Madness tournament. "
Quotes
  • "In fact, nearly 27 million viewers made the 2015 final the most-watched soccer event in U.S. television history--and the match did not disappoint with an exciting 5-2 victory for the U.S. Women's National Team, who captured their third title."
  • "With the global spectacle bringing billions of people together, the World Cup is a great opportunity to learn about the 24 nations participating in the tournament and the multiculturalism of your company."
  • "The chance to learn about a coworker’s roots could even promote a deeper level of camaraderie within the team."
Quotes
  • "Actualize Consulting used to have a policy about watching and discussing games that managing director Kerry Wekelo now calls rigid. The bosses would end conversations, and "that would burst people's bubbles when they were excited," Wekelo says."
  • "The financial consulting firm with offices in New York and Reston, Virginia, has since changed its policy. If employees want to take a couple of hours to watch a game, they can, as long as they make up the time. The bosses also run an NCAA pool in which the winnings can be used for wellness purchases like gym memberships or treadmills."
Quotes
  • "And according to FIFA, television ratings for the women’s final shattered records both here and abroad, with 28.1 million viewers worldwide and 6.1 million in the U.S.—despite not being on during prime time."
Quotes
  • "Giving into March Madness at work can actually boost your productivity and morale, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half."
  • "Almost three-fourths of managers say college basketball tournament activities lift their staff’s morale, and 52 percent also see productivity benefits."
  • "Maybe that’s why 75 percent of employers don’t fight the basketball fervor but rather embrace the national tournament by organizing sports-related festivities."
  • "Companies also celebrated March Madness by allowing employees to wear their team apparel (43 percent of organizations do this), watch games in the office (29 percent), and decorate their workspaces (28 percent)."
  • "“Many companies recognize it’s impractical to try to downplay the office buzz around major sporting events like March Madness,” said Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director of OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half. “Organizing activities tied to sports can provide welcome distractions that help lift workers’ spirits and engagement.”"