How To Turn Fantasy Football Into A Competitive Advantage

Did you know that $18.7 Billion worth of productivity is lost every year to fantasy football in America? Every year in late August and early September, more than 70 million people get together with friends and family for their fantasy football drafts. And that number—along with those productivity costs—is only increasing.

But don’t fret just yet. As Hugh Miller put it, “problems are only opportunities with thorns on them.” Just as businesses now use Facebook to their advantage (even though it costs $28 Billion worth of productivity a year), you can use Fantasy Football to your competitive advantage. Depending on your business, it might make sense to start your own fantasy football league. Here are some reasons to organize a work league:

Build camaraderie. Just look at fantasy football as another team-building activity. Similar to a company softball team, it’s an easy way to build camaraderie and a unique way to relate to coworkers—but with way fewer injuries.

Control the situation. If you’re in on it, it’ll be much easier to regulate time spent on fantasy football. You could make official rules that state you can only check lineups during lunch breaks or non-work hours. Nobody will feel singled out—since it’s a work thing too—and you’ll be able to ensure fantasy football isn’t a significant distraction.

Have fun. Fantasy football is increasingly more popular because it’s really fun. Unless you’re already worried your company is too lax, adding a little fun might be a great addition to your culture.

Even if it doesn’t make sense to start a work league at your company, there are still plenty of lessons that fantasy football can teach HR professionals and managers—especially when it comes to recruiting. Here are five lessons we can learn from fantasy football that will give you a competitive advantage:

1. Be patient and get your guys. Fantasy football auction drafts can be stressful. When you’re in the middle of a draft and don’t have very many players, you can get antsy. Suddenly, without thinking about it, you pick players you don’t even want (“gotta spend that money sometime”). The same is true for hiring. Sometimes it feels like time is running out, and so we just hire a candidate that mostly fits what we’re looking for—rather than waiting for the right guy (or gal). Even though you can’t wait forever, never rush a hire. Make sure you know exactly what you need, and then wait for the right candidate to come along. And once you find the right people, get them! You may need to spend a little more than expected, but it’ll be worth it since hiring the wrong people is far more expensive.

2. Know your players. If you pick a quarterback who has had three knee surgeries in the past couple years, and in the first game of the season he injures his knee, you have nobody to blame but yourself. You should have done some homework on the player before picking him up. The same is true for hires. If you fail to do the necessary homework on your candidate, you’re leaving yourself susceptible for trouble. Check references, social media, whatever. Just make sure you know the person you’re hiring. (Note: please don’t segregate candidates based on their knee health; that’s a sports-specific requirement.)

3. Take it one week at a time. You win some, and you lose some. That’s a fact of life in both fantasy football and in business. Not every new business initiative will work, and sometimes things won’t go your way. But never overreact to the losses. Sometimes stuff just happens that you have no control over. As long as you have a plan and trust it, you’ll learn from mistakes and use them to your advantage later on. And in the end, you’ll have more wins than losses.

4. Never assume you know it all. There are a lot of fantasy football experts out there to learn from. People who win their fantasy football leagues listen to podcasts and read articles from fantasy experts, then set their lineups accordingly. Call them geeks all you want, but they get the job done. The same is true of every type of business and industry. The more you become acquainted with industry experts and thought leaders, the more you will see trends coming, know best practices, etc.

5. Enjoy your guys’ successes. There’s nothing quite like watching a star football player win a fantasy matchup for you with a highlight-worthy touchdown. Sometimes it can seem silly celebrating other people’s accomplishments as if they’re your own (or so my wife tells me), but if you picked them for your team, and you supported them through thick and thin, you shouldn’t feel silly at all. Go give them a big pat on the pack, and then give yourself a small little pat as well.