The madness is starting. Today marks the official beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and according to global outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, this year could cost employers over $2.1 billion in productivity. They also estimated that approximately 23.7 million workers are filling out brackets… most likely on company time.

So does the old saying hold true, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”? Or should we put a stop to the madness?

march madness doesn't have to kill productivity

A survey by Office Team reported that 57% of managers feel that while they don’t encourage watching games or participating in office pools, they are ok with these activities in moderation. 32% said they should not be allowed at work and a mere 11% actually encourage this behavior.

Let’s be honest, though. Would you rather work with these 11% of employers who embrace the insanity of March or with the 32% that shun this type of behavior? Odds are you’re in favor of the former.

But, March Madness doesn’t have to kill productivity. Here are a few ways to have your cake and eat it, too:

Embrace the Competition

A great way to celebrate March Madness at work is to embrace the competition. This can be awesome for team bonding and office morale. Keep pool minimums low or consider offering a “free pool” option where you give away company swag or other small prizes to the winner.

Keep it Playful (and Respectful)

While some friendly competition can be great for office morale, it can also get into slippery territory when office fanatics find themselves facing a losing streak. Make sure to manage expectations around the office and keep conversations light-hearted. Smack talk is fun but can turn into bullying quickly. Steer clear of anything that could be offensive or disrespectful.

Manage Expectations

While streaming the games during lunch may be totally acceptable, there still needs to be an expectation of office performance during these crazy few weeks. Make sure expectations are clearly communicated during this time. Consider offering extra incentives for high-performers by letting them leave early to catch a game or providing some team gear. By celebrating wins both on and off the court, you can enjoy the season while still reinforcing productivity standards.

You can make the most of the Big Dance while still staying productive by preparing strategically and being transparent about the impacts of the tournament. Celebrating and staying productive is easy… picking your winning bracket is not.

About Katie Williamson

Katie Williamson is a Senior Marketing Associate at PerkSpot, providing creative insights and challenging the way we think about the workplace.

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