March Madness – Embrace It

Earlier this week, I typed “workplace productivity” in to my Google search bar, and one of the top auto fill options was “workplace productivity during March Madness”.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  It’s time for brackets, 12 seeds upsetting 5 seeds, explaining who’s in your Final Four, and much to my dismay, articles about how much productivity is lost in the workplace during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

This year’s estimate is $1.9 billion. 

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the oldest executive outplacement firm in the United States, approximately 77.7 million workers will spend at least one-hour wasting time on filling out their brackets, watching games, and bragging about their upset picks while at work.  The average hourly wage according to the Bureau of Labor is $24.78, which gets you to $1.9 billion.

I also read an article recently that said that enthusiastic workers are more productive and that they work harder.

So rather than sending memos reminding employees to focus on their work and not their brackets, why aren’t more companies simply choosing to manage, if not embrace, the inevitable distraction instead of fighting it?

While I agree that there’s little or no value that the actual tournament provides at work, it is an opportunity to bond, team build, and improve moral.  Something as simple as an office pool can bring people together who typically don’t interact.  Many companies have televisions in their space, specifically in conference rooms.  How much would it cost to bring in pizza and watch the games for an hour?

So on the dawn of the tournament, as March Madness swings into full gear, I predict that the forward thinking companies who are concerned with collaboration, employee engagement, and talent retention will not focus on the lost productivity.  Rather, they will be embracing the Madness and using it as a tool to enhance their overall productivity by creating an environment where people are excited to come to work.

Let the games begin.  Who do you have in your Final Four???