NCAA Basketball Tournament

Embracing A Little Madness in the Workplace

The 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a viral, annual American tradition woven into society and the workplace. Today, as the tournament begins, many sports fans will tune into the first round of games ranging from early afternoon until later this evening. And today, managers and IT teams around the country are wondering if and how they should put a stop to the disruption in work productivity.

The answer is no! A better way to approach the madness in the workplace is to stop complaining and start embracing.

It’s true, the tournament is definitely a documented source of productivity loss. In recent research, this year the tournament could cost as much as $1.9 billion in lost wages paid to distracted and unproductive workers.

The report also suggests that madness is a tradition not to be reckoned with and is truly too massive to be stopped. For example, as many as 60 million Americans, from your neighbor to the President, take time out of their workday to research and create their brackets. Obviously, the distractions will continue as the games begin today and workers begin clogging up servers by streaming games.

But instead of fearing the short-term loss of productivity, employers should embrace this opportunity for team building and cohesion, and a boost in employee morale. An OfficeTeam survey reported that “nearly one-third (32 percent) of senior managers interviewed said activities tied to the college basketball playoffs boost employee morale, and more than one-quarter (27 percent) felt March Madness has a positive impact on worker productivity.”

You heard that right: putting the option of tournament activities on the table for your employees could actually increase productivity. Having scheduled activities throughout the next three weeks will give employees something to look forward to, helping encourage them to finish their work on time so they can participate. You also may see a decrease in those true die-hard fans calling in sick to watch the games if you plan activities ahead of time.

Activities to consider:

  • Brackets are a great way to get all employees involved, but it’s worth noting that not all employees may understand “bracketology”. Consider planning a lunch or after-work happy hour to teach employees tips and tricks on how the tournament and brackets work. For your virtual teams, put together a fun and quick interactive webinar. Also remember to follow company polices and be mindful of your state’s gambling rules if you decide to give a prize to the winner of the bracket competition.
  • The majority of your employees will probably opt-in for the bracket competition, but for those who don’t, have a casual day where employees can dress up in team jerseys or colors and give a prize to the most spirited. Don’t forget to take pictures and post on your company’s social media sites.
  • If some of your team is remote, but still wants to be in on the fun, consider using virtual business collaboration tools to keep up with the scores and activities planned within your office. With a tool like PGi’s iMeet®, your members can use chat, video and audio features to keep in touch, while staying productive, whether they’re in the office or remote.
  • If your company has the capabilities and equipment, play the games live around the office or in your break rooms to limit employees using large amounts of bandwidth to stream games on their computers—you’ll keep IT happy this way as well.

The important key here is to keep employees working and productive while indulging in the tournament fun with moderation. When all is said and done, the madness will only last three weeks, but the ability to boost employee morale and encourage team building will last much longer.

Want to keep the teamwork going? Check out PGi’s free eBook, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, to learn more about teambuilding activities to foster collaboration and productivity in the workplace.


About Andrea D.

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