What Does Fantasy Football Have to do With Employee Engagement?

177698593Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means two things. (No, not the kickoff to the holiday shopping season that we’re made to believe started around Halloween… sigh).

It means great food with family and, of course, football. And if you’re like me, you’re probably in at least one fantasy football league. In fact there are over 41 million people playing fantasy sports in the U.S. and Canada this year.

There are a myriad of reasons why people participate. It’s a great way to meet friends or co-workers and build camaraderie, stay in contact with friends and former colleagues, and it adds a level of excitement to any game you’re watching – not just ones with your favorite team. Regardless of the reason, it’s fun and it’s something to talk about around the water cooler.

Fantasy football does have some drawbacks that companies are starting to notice, though. One statistic claims that 30 percent of fantasy football participants manage their teams while on office computers (I may be guilty of this… I hope my boss isn’t reading!).

Another recent stat from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consultancy firm out of Chicago, says that fantasy football may cost employers more than $13 billion in lost productivity, up from $6.5 billion from their same study in 2012. John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says in the study that he “fully acknowledges the absurdity of trying to put a firm dollar amount on lost work output resulting from the virtual competition.”

Does this mean you need to run down to your IT department and block every site running these leagues? Well, no. If employees aren’t spending time monitoring fantasy football, then they’re checking social media sites, getting the latest Hollywood gossip, online shopping – the list goes on. And these “extras” are important for employees to have in their lives. Employers should trust that they’ve hired the best people to get the job done, and for their employees to be their most productive selves, they need breathing room. As it is, 41% of employees feel guilty or stressed about taking time off from work. As Sir Richard Branson said, “If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your business.”

The fact is, we’re all bombarded by distractions! Think about possible repercussions of banning fantasy football or sports Websites in general. As Challenger puts it, “an across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites is likely to backfire and cause a drop in morale, loyalty and, ironically, productivity. The end result could be far worse than any loss of productivity caused by an hour or two of team management each week.”

Employers who trust their employees to get the job done will always be better rewarded than employers who feel they have to control every second of their workforce’s day from the moment they arrive, to the moment they clock out. Supporting a culture that gives employees some wiggle room in their schedule will help them be their most productive selves.

Let us know what you think of fantasy football as it pertains to your office culture in through Twitter or Facebook, and learn more about improving employees’ productivity without banning fantasy football by downloading the eBook, “4 Ways to Help Drive Employees Productivity.”

Giving Back Matters: Volunteering the Virgin Pulse Way

Conveyor BeltHere at Virgin Pulse, it’s important to us to make time to give back to our community. As part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group – one that’s committed to using business as a force for good and to aligning people, planet and profits to make business sustainable – we’re committed to not just taking care of our people, but also our surrounding community as well.

As a team and a company, we take opportunities that let us give back whenever we can. Earlier this year, we participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and supported the charity organization Free the Children through our annual Cycle USA bike ride with our friends at Virgin Atlantic, among other events.

Most recently, Virgin Pulse employees spent a day volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), with half the company taking a morning shift and the other an afternoon shift. With its mission to end hunger in Eastern Massachusetts, GBFB aims to distribute enough food for everyone in need in Massachusetts to have at least one meal a day.

“Obviously one meal isn’t enough, but we wanted to start with a goal we feel will make the most impact, and is achievable,” Ilana Borson, our group leader at the GBFB said.

Delivering 48 million pounds to as many as 545,000 people last year, GBFB’s goal to top those numbers is a huge responsibility, but the organization’s ready for the challenge. To help address hunger, GBFB works with over 25,000 volunteers each year to help manage operation costs, and donates 92 percent of all donated money straight to hunger-relief efforts.

SortingTo help GBFB achieve its goal, our groups assembled on its warehouse floor with the goal of sorting 5,000 pounds of food each. True to our core, our teams quickly found a way to kick-off some friendly competition, and each shift worked hard to outdo the other and surpass that goal.

“The competition was a fun way to get the groups into the job at hand. But the incredible part was seeing us all work together towards a larger goal,” commented Carolyn Vernon, Virgin Pulse Office Manager.

In the end, Virgin Pulse sorted more than 14,000 pounds of food, with the afternoon group beating out the morning shift by about 1,500 pounds.

“I walked away [from the food bank] feeling very fulfilled,” said Brad Blanchette, Product Marketing Manager at Virgin Pulse. “I got to spend some time with colleagues I normally don’t talk to, got a little exercise lifting boxes of food, and we got to help those not as fortunate as us. Overall, it was a great day,” he added.

Time well spent! Even besides volunteering for a great organization and getting to learn a little more about the hunger issue in Eastern Massachusetts, the Virgin Pulse team got time to bond, and at the end of the day building the team and creating a positive culture is always a worthwhile investment.

Group pic“The day of service was a great opportunity to build unity across the company and to live Virgin Pulse’s mission in a very real and practical way,” said Tim Ciampa, Account Specialist at Virgin Pulse.

“It’s easy to get lost in the numbers sometimes and forget that what we do is ultimately about people, so I was grateful for this reminder and the chance to express our commitment to improving people’s lives,” he added,

Looking for ways you can give back while building your organization’s culture, too? Find your local food bank to arrange a volunteer day for your employees.

7 Elements That Impact Employee Well-being

empA lot of light’s being shined on employee wellness these days, but what about employee well-being? This important shift goes beyond supporting employees’ physical needs. It also supports mental and emotional health, happiness and sense of their own prosperity – and it’s key to creating an engaged workforce.

With an astonishing 70 percent of employees actively disengaged from their work, according a Gallup study, it’s no surprise that supporting employee engagement drives quantifiable results. The stakes are high. Companies with low levels of engagement are collectively losing billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. With highly engaged workforces driving business performance – in some cases, realizing shareholder returns that are 28 percent higher than industry peers, according to a Towers Watson study – employers working to improve employee engagement can create a real competitive edge.

Benefits like productivity gains, better workplace safety results, higher quality work, lower absenteeism and turnover and, ultimately, higher profitability for the company, are just the beginning, though.

To truly engage and motivate employees, you need to support all aspects of their well-being. Help them feel their best in all areas of life and they’ll bring their best selves to work each day – along with the energy, focus and drive they need to get things done.

But before you dive into your employee well-being strategy, it’s important to really understand many of the key elements impacting a person’s well-being – and what you can do to support them.

  1. Purpose and meaning. Employees who feel their lives have purpose and meaning are more likely to engage in their work and be motivated to achieve their goals. To help enhance these aspects of well-being, give your employees some level of autonomy, opportunities to tap into their creativity on the job, and a sense of how their work positively impacts the lives of others.
  2. Social connections.Supportive relationships are a crucial part of well-being. One way you can help is to provide ways for employees to work in teams and bond with co-workers.
  3. Belonging and contributing. Individual well-being also depends on a sense of belonging in the places you spend most of your time, like at work and in your community. Support this area helping employees give back to the community as part of their role in the workplace, and be sure you’re acknowledging employee contributions to the company and their departments or teams.
  4. Security and safety. An obvious, but important, way to enhance employees’ feelings of safety and security is to provide them with a salary and benefits package that’s competitive for their area of expertise and location.
  5. Stress and resilience. Stress is an inevitable part of life, that’s for sure. But helping employees increase their resilience when things go wrong can help boost their well-being. One way to help employees with this? Create a pleasant and positive work environment. Plus, consider offering sessions like stress management lunch-and-learns.
  6. Wonder and creativity. Help employees satisfy their need for wonder and creativity by providing meaningful work, opportunities to develop new skills and competencies, and generally encouraging personal growth on the job. Bring on those topical seminars!
  7. 182756129Physical health and lasting behavior change. Healthier people have a greater sense of well-being. Two huge ways you can show some support? Create a healthy company culture and encourage lasting health behavior change.

Of course, improving an employee’s well-being ultimately lies with that person. But building positive workplaces and providing the financial security, opportunities to grow intellectually and socially, and programs to improve overall well-being will help you understand how to fully engage your workforce and create a strong, competitive edge.

Want to dig deeper into the nitty-gritty aspects of employee well-being and how it impacts your business? Check out this whitepaper “Making the Case: Supporting Employee Well-being, Molding Better Business.

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!

Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!