Fall is long gone, and the fantasy football frenzy has passed, but with the “March Madness” of the NCAA basketball tournament upon us, managers are once again wondering how to balance morale and productivity as their employees feverishly check scores and debate brackets.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the firm who published the staggering $14 billion figure for productivity lost through fantasy football, is at it again, this time estimating the lost business dollars attributable to March Madness. The good news is that it’s a much smaller figure than fantasy football. The bad news? With approximately 60 million Americans filling out tournament brackets, we’re still looking at a possible loss of almost $2 billion.
So how do you manage the madness while not losing the morale- and team-building that comes along with these kinds of activities?
“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.” – John A. Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas
Make the madness your own – While employees will likely start brackets and pools of their own, consider “owning” a piece of the action and starting a free company-approved bracket with rewards like a prime parking spot for a month or company-branded giveaways. Designate a casual dress day for interested employees to represent the team of their choice by wearing team gear and team colors to work.
Set boundaries – It’s important to know your audience, and if an employee is pressuring disinterested coworkers to join a bracket, it can get sticky. Keep an eye out for these situations and make it known that participation in any activity is strictly voluntary and shouldn’t interfere with getting the job done.
Give them some space – One of the biggest potential drains on productivity comes when everyone scrambles to stream the game on their computer, putting a strain on your bandwidth and bringing other network operations to a grinding halt. By designating common areas like breakrooms, lounges and cafeterias and putting games on the televisions in those places, you can encourage coworkers to watch together, reducing the strain on your network and increasing the camaraderie and teamwork in your office.
The price of morale and engagement can’t be overstated. Exercise common sense when addressing the sports enthusiasts in your office, and keep looking for ways to turn a potential distraction into a positive opportunity for your office.