Many employers have been annoyed by the effects of fantasy sports on employees’ productivity. Here’s a case of a company that took action … drastic action.
Fidelity Investments fired four employees (including a manager) recently for playing fantasy football at work.
The company defended itself by saying the employees were fired because they knowingly violated Fidelity’s policy on gambling.
Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio explained, “We have clear policies that relate to gambling. Participation in any form of gambling through the use of Fidelity time or equipment or any other company resource is prohibited.”
Regardless of whether or not Fidelity’s actions were a bit overboard, the popularity of fantasy sports has been increasing at an alarming rate.
- Citing a survey from last June, the Fantasy Sport Trade Association claimed that 29 million people played fantasy sports in U.S. and Canada in the past year (a 45% jump from 2007), and
- Challenger Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm, estimated that during the 2008 National Football League (NFL) season, employees playing fantasy football cost U.S. companies around $615 million in lost productivity per week.
When it comes to dealing with productivity problems from fantasy sports, experts suggest that employers avoid blanket policies — such as blocking employee access to sport-related sites.
What they suggest: Look at productivity loss on a case-by-case basis. Example: If a certain finance worker’s productivity drops significantly, it may be a good idea to schedule an informal one-on-one to see what the problem is.
Did Fidelity react too harshly? Does your company have a policy in place to deal with fantasy sports in the office? Let us know in the Comments Section.