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Does fantasy football affect workplace productivity?

August 29, 2011 | 11:59 am

New Orleans Saints Football teams are gearing up for the start of the season, as are more than 21 million U.S. workers in fantasy sports leagues. But bosses shouldn’t be alarmed, according to one employment consultancy.

Employees may spend as much as nine hours a week perfecting their fantasy drafts before the National Football League kickoff on Sept. 8, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The impact on workplace productivity, however, will be minimal, the firm said.

Challenger actually suggests that employers encourage company leagues to boost morale and output, claiming that “in the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.” Other research has found that fantasy sports boost camaraderie among employees and networking.

More than 70 million free and paid leagues operate in the U.S. and Canada, with the average player belonging to more than two, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Assn. Membership has spiked 60% in the past four years to 32 million players – with 80% of them involved in football.

And of all full-time workers in the U.S., 19% are fantasy sports players.

A Challenger survey last year found that most fantasy participants didn’t find playing in a league to be very distracting. On a scale of one to 10, where one represented no influence on productivity, nearly 70% of players chose four or below.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (28) is tripped up by Oakland Raiders cornerback Walter McFadden (22). The Saints will play the Green Bay Packers during the regular season kickoff on Sept. 8. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire

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