Businesses lose $14B in productivy to fantasy football

WASHINGTON — Workers who check how their fantasy football teams are doing while on the job will contribute to an estimated $14 billion in lost productivity, the global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. says.

About 31 million working-age Americans participate in fantasy football, with much of their drafting of players and team management done while on the job.

Challenger came up with the $14 billion figure using an estimate of $20 an hour per worker for 59 percent of workers who might be distracted. In July, $20 an hour was the average hourly earnings for the nation’s 117 million workers who did not work on farms.

Challenger says if somebody is researching players or shuffling rosters on work time, that $20 would be lost wages.

But the firm says it isn’t demonizing fantasy football.

“If it’s not fantasy football, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip, shopping on Amazon, or checking Facebook,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a news release.

But the company says the impact of fantasy football is not at all negative, and says businesses may want to embrace the idea of fantasy football to build morale and camaraderie and improve productivity.

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites is likely to backfire and cause a drop in morale, loyalty and, ironically, productivity. The end result could be far worse than any loss of productivity caused by an hour or two of team management each week,” Challenger says.

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