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America’s Sports Fixation Takes Over the Workplace, Significantly Impacting Employee Culture and Productivity

A surprisingly high percentage of American employees will prioritize sports fandom over their work as company-wide fantasy leagues grow in popularity, according to a new survey report from Kimble Applications  


BOSTON, MA – October 24, 2018 – With football season in full swing and the MLB playoffs at a fever pitch, sports fanaticism and fantasy competitions are taking over American workplaces this fall. Highlighting this cultural takeover, over a third (37 percent) of U.S. employees say they’ve participated in fantasy sports competitions during work hours, according to The Business Playbook Report, released today by Kimble Applications, a global leader in professional services automation. While this fandom is having a positive impact on overall workplace engagement and culture, survey results indicate that it could potentially have a negative influence on employee performance and productivity if not managed carefully.


Good for Culture and Engagement

Overall, most American employees agreed that sports-related activities were good for morale. A majority (54 percent) said that fantasy sports competitions or NCAA March Madness pools in the workplace had a positive impact on company culture and engagement, while only four percent said that it has a negative impact. However, more than one out of 10 (13 percent) report feeling pressured to participate in these activities even if they don’t want to – indicating that managers will likely need to take extra precautions to ensure that these well-meaning extracurricular activities don’t take a negative turn.


Productivity and Performance Could Take a Hit

There is also a clear split in opinion on how these sports-related activities influence employee productivity. Over a third of employees (36 percent) say that they are more productive while playing fantasy sports, but more than two out of 10 (22 percent) believe that it has a negative impact.


Contributing to a potential decrease in productivity, many employees admit to occasionally going behind management’s back while prioritizing sports over the job. Nearly half (43 percent) say that they’ve watched games over the past year during work hours while their manager thought they were doing other tasks.


In addition to this, the survey found that nearly 2 out of 10 (17 percent) admit that they’ve falsely called out sick the day after a major sports event – likely due to a lack of sleep or over-celebration. Alarmingly, another third of employees (36 percent) say that they would consider doing so even if they haven’t yet, which could leave many organizations understaffed with little time to prepare.


“As an avid sports fan myself, I’ve seen firsthand how employees’ passion for their teams, along with some friendly competition, can have a positive impact on a company’s culture and engagement. It helps us develop connections and camaraderie with colleagues, but it’s important for managers to put protocols in place that will ensure that it doesn’t get in the way of long-term business performance,” said Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications. “It can be a delicate balance for business leaders, and I’d recommend setting clear expectations, encouraging transparency throughout your workforce and always planning ahead to avoid any issues. For example, push your employees to plan PTO days around major games well in advance to allow for more efficient forecasting, ensuring the people that are working are as productive as possible.”


Influx of Sports-Focused Business Metaphors

While developing The Business Playbook Report, Kimble also set out to determine how employees felt about the sports metaphors that have become so prevalent throughout day to day business interactions. Interestingly, “Keep your eye on the ball” was named the most overused metaphor while also ranking as the favorite (32 percent growing tired of the phrase, while 20 percent counting it as their fan favorite). This could certainly lead to some contention amongst colleagues, as many are likely to be overusing the phrase while others despise it. For business people looking to avoid the use of cliché vernacular, “Ball is in their court” and “Down to the Wire” rounded out the top three most overused metaphors.


Additional Key Stats

  • Fantasy sports at work is the most popular among men: 50 percent of males have played over the past year, compared to 29 percent of females
  • Younger employees are participating in workplace fantasy competitions at a higher rate: 34 percent of those 35 and older have played in the past year, compared to 42 percent of 18 – 34-year-old employees
  • Nearly 3 out of 10 employees (29 percent) believe that sports rivalries have actually improved their workplace relationships


Survey Methodology

The findings are based on a survey conducted through Pollfish on September 17th, 2018 of 1,000 full-time employees in the United States, ages 18 and over.


About Kimble Applications

Kimble Applications helps professional service businesses by improving business performance, increasing visibility, and providing enhanced company collaboration. Kimble is dedicated to the production of unique management solutions delivered through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The members of the Kimble management team are recognized professional services experts, having founded, managed, and grown several successful IT and management consulting organizations. They have experienced first-hand the business problems which result from the lack of adequate software available to manage professional services. The team has harnessed the best practice and unique intellectual property gained in their careers, along with detailed design input from a range of experts from leading firms across the globe.