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Editor at Large

As the Eagles go, so goes the workforce?

- Last modified: October 25, 2013 at 3:23 PM

A caller to a sports talk radio show a couple of Mondays ago said he arrived at work early – happy and energized because the Philadelphia Eagles had won the day before to move into first place.

The worker’s morale was upbeat, and, in this case, it appeared to lead to a better performance on the job.

But anecdote aside, is there a correlation between how employees perform and how well their home sports team is winning?

If there is, it’s not much and it's not for long, according to Jane Wells Schooley, founder and co-owner of Northstar Development Team, Bethlehem.

The problem, she said, is that 70 percent of workers are unhappy and uninspired at work. Just because their favorite sports team – for example the Eagles, Giants, Phillies, Yankees, Penn State – is doing well, unhappy workers will not magically become more productive.

However, there is a team-building opportunity with the remaining 30 percent of workers, Wells Schooley said.

“It depends on the worksite,” she said. “In that 30 percent where employees are actively engaged and actively committed to their work and each other … they could find a way to celebrate that victory as a team.

“They could literally have a lunch where everybody gets together and looks at that [sports] team’s success and then apply it to work and celebrate some [of their] work successes.”

She said she does not see an extended positive bump.

“[Instead, workers] should have a great emotional and attitudinal state about the company and organization …” Wells Schooley said. “In fact, it could be a greater distraction, positive or negative. … Now they are engaged in a sports victory or defeat, and that just takes away even more [from focusing on work].”

After that Eagles' victory on Oct. 13, they lost on Oct. 20 to drop out of first place. Which begs the question about work performance when a favorite sports team is losing.

Wells Schooley said that if employees have “low emotional intelligence, a low ability to manage their relationships with other people, and low engagement. … it might cause much more disruption [when their favorite team is losing]. It could potentially lead to negative interactions at work.”

There is yet another down side to a major emphasis on sports at work, because many employees may not be sports fans.

“When you have a diverse team at work, not everybody cares about sports,” she said. “Then it can be a disengaging thing.”

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