Make Every Day ‘Draft’ Day and Other HR Lessons From Daily Fantasy Sports

Steve Boese Good HR, HR & Sports, Sports, Steve Boese

Chances are you are familiar with, and possibly an active participant in some kind of Fantasy Sports.  Fantasy Sports have an estimated 40 million players in North America – that is a lot of people who enjoy playing selecting and managing fake teams of real athletes to attempt to win fake championships, (and sometimes real money). And some of the largest media companies in the world, (ESPN, Yahoo, CBS) are major players in the space.

But in the last few years the fastest growing and most potentially disruptive innovation in Fantasy Sports has been the rapid rise to awareness and popularity of so-called ‘Daily’ Fantasy Sports sites. These daily sites like FanDuel and DraftKings have found success with a combination of strategies and game play features that simultaneously make them a threat to the more established Fantasy Sports platforms and have expanded the audience for Fantasy sports in general. Simply put, they take what is fun about Fantasy sports and whittle it down to a daily experience, compared to the classic, months at a time ‘normal’ Fantasy season.

What’s the point of talking about Fantasy Sports on an HR/Talent blog? Because there are three distinct aspects of the rise of the Daily Fantasy sports industry that could easily be applied to all kinds of business, talent, recruiting, and workforce strategies.

Element 1 – Make every day ‘Draft’ day

Most traditional fantasy players will tell you that their favorite day of the season is ‘Draft’ day, that one day prior to the starting the season where the Fantasy team owner selects his or her roster of players for the upcoming season. Draft day is exciting, challenging, and just more fun than the actual fantasy games themselves.  The daily fantasy games have figured out a way to allow the players to ‘draft’ every day, thus giving them more of what they enjoy.

The lesson for the rest of us? Understanding what, where, and when in any process that creates the most interest and excitement for customers or employees and devising a way to create ‘more’ of that is a sure way to increase engagement and adoption.

Element 2 – Make it faster and easier

Daily Fantasy sports takes what has proven to be a successful concept and has distilled it into much more manageable and accessible chunks. But at its core, it is still the same game that traditional Fantasy Sports players are used to and have embraced. And this combination is allowing daily Fantasy Sports sites to do something almost unheard of – innovate off of an existing, successful platform to attract new customers while not alienating more traditional participants.

What most people in the workplace don’t nearly have enough of is time. Similar to how a month’s long Fantasy Sports season is too much of a time and effort commitment for many time-strapped fans, the daily games completely eliminate that barrier. Play when you want, when you can, when you have a few extra moments. This concept can be applied to just about any workplace process that people know is important, but just don’t have enough of a time commitment to complete. So think of ways that processes like training or annual goal setting or even annual feedback processes can be made more discrete and digestible and thus more accessible. Most folks want to do the right thing, but if committing four or six consecutive hours on a Wednesday is the price, then they might take a pass, (or make a half-hearted effort just to get it done).

Element 3 – Create a super mobile experience

Daily Fantasy Sports games have effectively translated the Fantasy sports experience to mobile platforms. This is completely in line with their design and their appeal (fast, easy, accessible, fun). Simply put, if you want mass adoption of anything – games, entertainment, and increasingly workplace technologies – they had better provide seamless and pleasing mobile capability. We used to ask ‘Will it work on the iPhone?’ when evaluating new technologies. Now no one asks that question, they just assume that it will, no matter what it is. If whatever tool, process, content you are trying to push does not provide the mobile experience that your audience expects, they will simply not engage to the level you hope for.

I am on record that we can in HR and Talent pros can learn just about everything they need to know from sports. I am ready to amend that statement to include Fantasy Sports, especially the emerging daily Fantasy Sports business. Emphasize the best elements of the experience, make it fast and accessible and fun, and think about whatever you are providing through the lens of your smart phone.