Make Sporting Events Contribute to Teamwork in the Workplace

How to Engage Your Employees in Teamwork and Team Productivity

Watching sporting events in the office can build your team.


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Sporting events, presidential inaugurations, national tragedies, deaths of prominent individuals, and acts of terror all detract from workplace productivity as employees focus their interest and energy on the event. Whether they watch television in conference rooms and gathering areas or watch unfolding events in front of their computer, little work is accomplished.

Workplaces can honor their employees’ need to view and participate in national events or tap into their downright interest in sporting events through teamwork.

Employees will be distracted and involved anyway. Why not use these events to further positive teamwork in your workplace?

Focusing on sporting events, as a more positive national event for involving employees in your workplace, consider the range of activities the company could sponsor to tap into teamwork and their team spirit. Rather than forcing employees to huddle alone in their cubicles to furtively watch the tournament games stream, create a way for employees to join together to watch and celebrate teamwork.

You may avoid the worst hits to your productivity, that generally accompany employee preoccupation with sporting events, by scheduling company events to coincide with employee interests. The company benefits from encouraging teamwork and positive employee morale, while intangible, are real.

Sporting Events Most Likely to Sap Productivity

Global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., according to a press release, created a non-scientific ranking of the top sporting events that potentially affect workplace productivity. These are the events you might want to prepare to manage and potentially, turn into plusses for teamwork and employee motivation within your company.

These are applicable to all fan sporting events. Managed and celebrated effectively in your workplace, each of these events can contribute to the development of your teamwork culture.

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (AKA, March Madness)

Office tournament pools and the fact that about half of the first 32 games are played during work hours makes March Madness the granddaddy of productivity sappers. Need proof? The NCAA "Boss Button," which instantly hides the tournament webcast behind work-related pages if the boss comes into view, has become increasingly sophisticated and useful in every year since it was first created in 2006. (How silly is that? These are adults, people.)

NFL Fantasy Football

Millions of fantasy football participants manage their teams from their office. Whether it's preparing for their fantasy draft, recruiting league co-players, or initiating trades, the time devoted to fantasy football may seem minor, but over the 17-week season, the hours add up. Then, there's all of that midnight oil burned plotting strategy to consider, too.

The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is not played during work hours, so the impact is felt on Monday when the revelers return to work. Check your attendance records and count your hungover, tired staff members to assess the real damage in your workplace. Did you know that some fans have launched a campaign to make post-Super Bowl Monday an official work holiday? You know, get a life.

World Cup Soccer

Not yet big in the U.S., World Cup Soccer has a huge impact on workplace productivity worldwide. Some companies in Europe and South America shut down on the day of a big match.

College Football Bowl Season

Bowl games start in mid-December and, whether they are played during the day, or just keep your workforce up at night, their impact is felt in the workplace. Fortunately, work in many workplaces around the holidays is typically slower than normal.

Baseball Playoffs and World Series

Games, though mostly played in the evening, produce groggy fans at work the next day, particularly in cities with playoff/World Series teams.

NHL Playoffs/Stanley Cup Finals

Professional hockey playoffs last almost two months. For cities with teams in the playoffs, these games create distractions as fans critique their team's performance and plan post-game celebrations.

NBA Playoffs/Finals

As with baseball and hockey, productivity is mostly killed in cities with competing teams. The biggest employee productivity threat comes from late-night game-watching on work nights.

The Olympics

Since four years pass between the winter Olympics and the summer Olympics, these events attract a lot of dedicated viewers. Most employees put in their watching time during prime-time television hours, but faster internet connections are making the live streaming of events from employee desks possible. And, what's not to love about beach volleyball, gymnastics, ski jumping, or the half-pipe?

Apple Product Announcements

Okay, Challenger is mostly tongue-in-cheek with this but Apple product announcements do foster almost as much pre-event hype and water cooler speculation as actual sporting events do. Blogging the event, product reviews, reading all of these pages, and maybe even waiting in line for stores to open, sap employee productivity. Employ an up-to-the-minute IT staff? You know exactly what the situation is when a new Apple product comes to town.