A few years ago, I profiled an employment termination based on an employee’s overuse of company time and computers for his Fantasy Football league. Fantasy Football has literally changed both the way fans watch football and the amount of time they devote to following football and making league decisions during work time. There is a nonstop scroll on the bottom of every television screen during game coverage identifying the individual statistics for every player. It seems like now we are more concerned with individual production as opposed to game scores.
Nevertheless, as leagues continue to grow in their popularity, it is not surprising that participants use work time to adjust their teams, make trades, and follow the waiver wire for that one player that may push them over the edge. Fantasy Football is a big business, and literally millions of people participate in it each season.
So the question for the employer is, there is no doubt some employees are participating on company time, but what can you do about it? Fantasy Football is no different than any other "online" participation forum. There is really no difference between Fantasy Football, Facebook, Twitter or the employee who excessively shops on eBay. The extreme position is to prevent employees from accessing any of these types of sites from their work computers. Some businesses do that, but it certainly creates a big brother mentality. The most pragmatic choice is to simply let employee access these sites in accordance with social media and other policies that may apply to the use of company computers, networks, etc. for personal use. Employers will have to do their best to try to monitor these type of activities and reinforce any policies through e-mails about these types of issues.
The reality is, employees are going to use some of the employer’s time for personal hobbies like Fantasy Football or filling out the NCAA Tournament basketball bracket. The expectation has to be clear to the employee that while some of this type of participation is expected, it should be kept to a minimum. Make sure all company policies are up to date and make sure all employees understand what is expected.