A few years ago, I wrote about the effect March Madness has on productivity and your options for mitigating the inevitable distractions. Apparently not many of you were listening, because the Society for Human Resources Management reports that 81 percent of employers do not have a policy regulating office pools.
Allowing, or turning a blind eye to, March Madness pools makes sense because it is extremely unlikely that the IRS or local authorities are going to come knocking just because your employees created an office pool. So instead of telling you all the possible negative consequences resulting from March Madness, let’s find some positives.
March Madness pools bring employees together. As long as you can avoid arguments and fights, employees can bond over a shared love of sports and good-natured competition. March Madness may provide a means to encourage different departments, and even office locations, to interact, particularly in larger companies.
While it is almost inevitable that March Madness will cause a dip in productivity, of some degree, the increase in employee bonding and engagement may lead to greater productivity overall. Employees that are allowed to have a little bit of fun at work will be happier employees. And happy employees will produce a better work product and will be less likely leave to look for other jobs.
The effect of March Madness on work productivity may actually bit a bit overstated, according to a 2013 study by OfficeTeam. The study found that only one in five workers were distracted at work by major sporting events, which is good news with the FIFA World Cup approaching in a few months as well. Even those workers who are somewhat distracted will simply just work harder once the tournament ends to catch up on work.
In short, a little March Madness may not be so bad and allowing your employees to indulge a bit could be beneficial. Maybe this year you can relax, put your feet up and join in the fun. Or, at the very least, you can limit your enforcement to large wagers, body paint and those clearly not getting any work done, whatever you feel comfortable with.