On Tuesday, Lee Igel of Forbes wrote Stop The Insanity About NCAA March Madness Ruining
Workplace Productivity in which he reported that while March
Madness (according to a report from outplacement firm Challenger,
Gray & Christmas) "amounts to $1.9 billion in lost
wages to employees who are so distracted by the tournament that
they become unproductive... the report also suggests that attention
to the tournament is so widespread and intense that it isn't
worth trying to stop". He went on to state:
"Managers shouldn't fear employees engaging with
co-workers around a three week-long basketball tournament, so long
as everyone is accomplishing the work that is expected of them. The
challenge, then, is having to figure out where to draw the line
when it comes to indulging in March Madness at the office. Quashing
or banning it sends a message that the workplace is no place to
have a little fun, which is no way to make people
The report, indeed, recommends against employers banning
workplace pools and blocking access to streaming sites stating:
"This tournament and the betting and bracket-building
that come with it are ingrained in the national fabric. Trying to
stop it would be like trying to stop a freight train. When even the
president finds time to fill out a bracket, an employer would be
hard pressed to come up with a legitimate reason to clamp down on
March Madness activities..."
"But here's the thing: Many people taking time to
fill out their office bracket or surreptitiously catch the last two
minutes of a game while at work are also answering e-mail while
they sit on their couches at home. Worrying about how much
productivity is lost a few weeks every spring ignores how much
productivity is gained when employees do work while watching sports
at home the rest of the year.
So let's cool it a little on the March Madness
productivity panic. The intertwining of our professional and
personal lives is not really news. And it's not going to change
Some workplaces latch onto the so-called "benefit" of
allowing employees to participate in March Madness activities in
the name of increased employee morale. According to a survey of
1000 managers conducted by OfficeTeam in California, one in five
(20 per cent) of those surveyed felt activities tied to the college
basketball playoffs improve employee morale at least somewhat,
compared to only four per cent of respondents who viewed them
negatively. The majority (75 per cent) said March Madness events have no impact on morale or
productivity. Some companies allow staff to wear their favorite
teams' apparel or decorate their workspaces (within reason) to
get in the spirit. Hopefully your workplace is not filled with Badger fans.
Whether March Madness is an issue or not at your workplace is
something only you know given your particular workplace and
employees. Regardless of whether it's really much ado about
nothing or whether you intend to increase employee morale, March
Madness is a good time to review your workplace rules so that
everyone knows what's expected including the following
Appropriate computer and internet use
While there may also be other relevant policies, these five seem
to be the ones most vulnerable to March Madness breaches. While I
may be justifying my own time on the internet over the past few
days, there is ALWAYS room for fun in the workplace. Putting an
unwieldy damper on an opportunity that could increase employee
morale should always be well thought out beforehand. Look for, and
explore, opportunities and solutions that are appropriate for your
workplace before taking too restrictive an approach to March
Good luck with your brackets, live streaming and evading IT
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about your specific circumstances.
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