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This March, Try Embracing the Madness.

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

It’s here! The annual NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament, or March Madness, is in full swing and diehard sports fans have made their brackets and are trying to watch as many games as they can. Passive fans, too, have heard about it – probably from their coworkers.

Taking a look at a survey CNBC referenced in an article about last year’s March Madness, somewhere near 70 million tournament brackets were filled out in 2017, with over $10 billion wagered. That’s actually twice as much betting money as what a Super Bowl usually gets.

Further down in the same article, CNBC referred to a survey by Seyfarth Shaw at Work, which said that March Madness ranked third among tech-related office distractions. The only things more distracting were Facebook and texting, which are, well, year round.

So as a business owners, you have a love/hate relationship with the massive sporting event.

Needless to say, distracted employees tend not to be the most productive employees. So, what do you do? Ban office pools, get rid of your TVs, and put firewalls up to prevent employees from searching the internet for game streams and results? You could, but you might be missing out on a major opportunity to actually boost productivity and morale.

Instead, why not embrace the opportunity?

Now, in most states and jurisdictions, it’s illegal (or at least questionable) to have workplace betting. But, consider creating some sort of office pool that will give workplace related (and non-financial) incentives to employees for participating.

Instead of forcing people in your charge to duck around the rules and find ways to watch games while on the clock, why not create an office excursion to watch a particular game? Or plan an office party around it?

There is a little risk involved in the “all-in” perspective. You have to be careful not to break laws when trying to reward employees for filling out a bracket. You also toe a bit of an HR line of exclusion.

While it’s proven that a really large and diverse group of people love participating in March Madness related activities, there are people who have no interest. You can work to alienate some of them if you go a little too basketball tournament heavy.

It’s a fine line, but if you know your employees, you should be able to find something fun and engaging to involve your team in, while not alienating people who don’t want to participate.

These rules can go for any major cultural event. While your workplace isn’t a daycare center full of fun and devoid of work, you’ll get more out of your team by embracing things they do for fun as much as you can and trying to integrate it into what they do for a living.

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