For many companies, employee productivity is the lifeblood of revenue generation. Without productive employees, a company will never reach its business goals. However, employee productivity rarely takes quite the hit it does during the opening to March Madness because games are scheduled during working hours. Of course, March Madness turns non-basketball-fans into big fans because of the excitement and water cooler talk surrounding exciting finishes, big upsets and the “thrill of victory” or “agony of defeat” based on your personal brackets.
Loss of productivity costs companies an estimated 1.2 billion dollars during the first two days of the tournament. This sounds like a lot of loss, but it doesn’t have to be a net negative for your company. Employees will be following the games and filling out their brackets. So instead of trying to fight it to keep productivity up, you can do a few of the following things to encourage people to work while also building up morale by giving them a break to enjoy the games:
· Set up TVs. Rather than discouraging employees from following the games, set up TVs or monitors in a break room to allow employees to meander in now and then. Remember that small, frequent breaks are actually a productivity help! Conversations will not just focus on the games but also discussing projects or other work. Plus, getting the games in a set area can help remove the distraction from the operations floor.
· Create an office bracket challenge. Allow employees to compete against one another with the understanding it is all just for fun. Stronger bonds and friendships can happen through fun competition not focused around the work itself.
· Allow employees a timeout. Let employees sign up for times that they are going to take off so that they can see their alma mater (or other favorite team) play in the tournament. Provide sign-up sheets ahead of time so everyone knows who’s going to be watching games at certain times so that all work is covered.
· Have lunch together. Provide lunch or have a bring-your-own-lunch picnic to watch a game together. You’ll create a team-building experience and great bonding time.
Companies will find it a losing battle if they try to eliminate the distraction of March Madness and alienate employees by trying to take away the excitement of the tournament. Rather than trying to prevent it, turn it into a chance for employees to grow closer together and tighter as a team. After all, your teams can learn from watching those basketball teams working together and pulling off all sorts of upsets!