The Business Playbook Report

BOSTON, MA – October 24, 2018

In its latest survey, Kimble, a global leader in professional services automation, looked into the impact of sports on the workplace. We asked about the level of participation in fantasy sport, and the effect of that on workplace culture. These betting games, typically played for small stakes can be ‘an ice-breaker,’ helping to engage teams who may not be in the same place geographically,  one respondent told us. We also enquired into the potential for absenteeism around major sports events. And thirdly we took a look at sports metaphors – like them or loathe them there are many sports-based phrases which turn up in business – and America’s favorite sporting term also turned out to be the top choice for the most irritating cliche – “keep your eye on the ball.”


Impact on Workplace Culture

We found that the vast majority of respondents – 96%-  feel sports-related activity has either a positive or neutral effect on company culture with 54% saying it is positive and 42% neutral, while only four percent feel it is negative. And almost a third of employees (29 percent) believe that sports rivalries have actually improved their workplace relationships. However, a significant minority of 13% report feeling pressured to participate in these activities even if they don’t want to.

Fantasy sports are often played in the workplace today  – and while there is a gender gap, they are increasingly popular with both sexes. One-third of women have played these in the last year, while a half of men say they have taken part in these games.

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.


Potential for absenteeism around major sports events

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. The potential is there for more absences as another third of employees (36 percent) say that they would consider doing so even if they haven’t yet.

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. More than half 55% say they have not watched sports at work over the last week. A small minority – 5% – admit to watching sport for more than ten hours while their manager thought they were doing something else.


Impact of Sports-Focused Business Metaphors

“Keep your eye on the ball” was named the most overused metaphor while also ranking as the favorite with a third, 32 percent tired of the phrase they regard as the most cliched. But another 20 percent said it was their favorite. “Ball is in their court” and “Down to the Wire” came in second and third in the competition for most overused sports term.

Kimble surveyed 1,000 full-time employees in the USA. The demographics of the sample were: ten percent between age 18 and 24, 33% aged between 25 and 34, 28% between 35 and 44,  18% between 45 and 54, and 11% older than 54.

Technical support specialist Jose Bautista, 25, helped to set up a fantasy football league in his office. He feels playing the game for small stakes against colleagues has a positive effect on workplace culture.


Below are the questions and answer breakdowns

Q1 Over the past year, have you participated in fantasy sports competitions during work hours?

A1 Yes, I have 37.30% 373

A2 No, I have not 61.10% 611

A3 I’m not sure 1.60% 16


Q2 What impact do sports-related activities in your workplace, such as fantasy sports or NCAA march madness pools, have on overall culture and employee engagement at your company?

A1 It has a positive impact 54.00% 540

A2 It has no impact 42.50% 425

A3 It has a negative impact 3.50% 35


Q3 What impact do sports-related activities in your workplace, such as fantasy sports or NCAA march madness pools, have on your productivity as an employee?

A1 I’m less productive during these times 22.00% 220

A2 I’m more productive during these times 35.80% 358

A3 I’m not sure 42.20% 422


Q4 Do you feel pressured to participate in sports-related activities in your workplace, such as fantasy sports or NCAA March Madness pools, even if you don’t want to?

A1 Yes, I feel pressured 12.50% 125

A2 No, I feel no pressure 84.20% 842

A3 I’m not sure 3.30% 33


Q5 Over the past year, have you watched sports during work hours while your manager thought you were doing other tasks?

A1 Yes, but for less than an hour 20.20% 202

A2 Yes, between 1 – 10 hours 17.90% 179

A3 Yes, for over 10 hours 5.20% 52

A4 No, I have not 55.50% 555

A5 I don’t remember 1.20% 12


Q6 In your opinion, what sports-focused business metaphor is the most overused?

A1 Keep your eye on the ball 32.20% 322

A2 Ball is in their court 18.00% 180

A3 The homestretch 4.20% 42

A4 Throw a Hail Mary 3.00% 30

A5 Down to the wire 8.30% 83

A6 Throw in the towel 4.10% 41

A7 Ballpark figure 6.70% 67

A8 Down for the count 2.20% 22

A9 Block and tackle 0.70% 7

A10 Bush league 0.70% 7

A11 A layup 0.50% 5

A12 Full court press 1.00% 10

A13 Drop the ball 7.70% 77

A14 Slam dunk 6.50% 65

A15 The gloves are off 3.20% 32

A16 Other 1.00% 10

A17 Be a team player

A18 I don’t know

A19 I don’t know

A20 score

A21 Your the captain

A22 Ghgg

A23 No idea


A25 Not into sports! Could care less about it!

A26 None


Q7 What is your favorite sports-focused business metaphor?

A1 Keep your eye on the ball 20.40% 204

A2 Ball is in their court 13.70% 137

A3 The homestretch 10.30% 103

A4 Throw a Hail Mary 7.70% 77

A5 Down to the wire 8.00% 80

A6 Throw in the towel 3.30% 33

A7 Ballpark figure 4.40% 44

A8 Down for the count 3.80% 38

A9 Block and tackle 1.10% 11

A10 Bush league 2.20% 22

A11 A layup 0.60% 6

A12 Full court press 1.50% 15

A13 Drop the ball 2.80% 28

A14 Slam dunk 8.50% 85

A15 The gloves are off 10.30% 103

A16 Other 1.40% 14

A17 None

A18 You can put it on the board

A19 None

A20 None of them

A21 None

A22 None as most are negative and my motto is you

always have another move

A23 I hate sports metaphors

A24 Idk

A25 none

A26 Rode hard and put away wet

A27 Dislike sports. None.

A28 none

A29 Could care less about it

A30 None


Q8 Have you ever falsely called out sick the day after a major sports event?

A1 Yes, I have 17.30% 173

A2 No, but I would consider it 35.60% 356

A3 No, I never would 47.10% 471


Q9 How have sports rivalries impacted your relationships with colleagues?

A1 They’ve improved relationships 29.40% 294

A2 They’ve harmed relationships 4.90% 49

A3 They haven’t had an impact 60.30% 603

A4 I’m not sure 5.40% 54