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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Talk Politics? Maybe Not. Football? You Bet!

Politics may be in the air, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be in the lunch room. Better to talk about football.

It’s natural for employees to want to talk politics as campaign season heats up and Election Day is less than three weeks away. And good company cultures don’t have a problem with that. In fact, “It’s not good management practice” for employers to monitor everything people discuss at the water cooler, Bryan Cave, an employment lawyer in Washington, D.C., noted in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Employers may be better off encouraging office participation in a different contact sport: football.

Not the contact part, exactly. But a new column on suggests that managers can use football fandom as a way to create a more engaged work environment.True. A recent study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the outplacement firm, estimated that employers lose $6.5 billion a year due to “employees’ procrastination and managing their fantasy football rosters.”

But Halley Bock, a leadership-development consultant, suggests that “instead, football can be an opportunity to build a more personal, engaging workplace.”


She suggests that managers encourage discussion of the games, even debates about upcoming contests – and perhaps launch an internal fantasy football league. These and other football-centered activities, she maintains, can enable managers and executives to show personality and encourage fun. Besides organizing internal fantasy leagues, she suggest hosting off-site events that might be centered around football or other sports, and to talk about sports and other personal interests and activities.

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