In some office cultures you find co-workers participating in group social activities, like fantasy sports leagues, book clubs, and health & fitness programs. Some of these activities are sanctioned by employers and some are arranged by individuals.
I have certainly worked in settings where my co-workers became involved in a fantasy baseball league each spring. I’ve never participated. I think I’d take it too seriously and go all Moneyball in my strategy planning.
In addition to the fantasy leagues, there are actual athletic teams, like softball and touch football clubs (even four square – one of my favorites!). I’ve been invited to join book clubs, too. In some cases, employers offer diet and health groups, like on-site Weight Watchers meetings and yoga classes. I also recently heard about a group of co-workers at a bank collecting funds to invest in stock together and planning to share any dividends.
There are also less formal assemblages that, for example, regularly go to happy hour together, set up betting pools, and purchase lottery tickets together. In the news recently, we’ve seen the story of the 15 McDonald’s employees in Maryland who purchased a ticket together for the big Mega Millions drawing for $656 million. That deal isn’t working out so great. The woman who went and bought the tickets for the group claims that she bought an additional ticket for herself and that that was the one which ended up being worth $105 million. Her co-workers insist she’s lying. Yikes! That’s going to be messy to sort out!
These at-work cultural phenomena seem to be gaining in popularity and range of interest. People seem to enjoy them, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t affect the work of the people who do it. But maybe I’m wrong. I suppose that one could hypothesize that something like a fantasy league could be a detriment - or a boon - to the productivity of staff members involved. Some could say that it’s distracting or that trade negotiations for that hot leftie pitcher might spill over into company time. Others could say it boosts moral and creates camaraderie. Also, what about those co-workers who do not participate? Do they miss out on the possible benefits, become annoyed by the baseball banter or feel like they end up having to pick up slack? It’s worth some thought: what kind of impact do groups like these have on the work place? How many of these kinds of activities are appropriate to share at work? How should they be promoted? Do people with different work schedules, like part-timers miss out? How do you make sure that no one feels left out?
What do you think? Are activities like this a help or a hindrance at work? Are there any groups like this at your office? Do you participate in any? If you are an employer or a manager, what is your view on social groups?