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Is March Madness the Morale Boost Your Office Needs?

If your office is anything like ours, then the topics of busted brackets and buzzer beaters have probably taken over. That’s right – It’s March Madness!

It’s a popular myth that March Madness is a productivity killer for office places, but a large majority of employees said they didn’t believe they were any less productive during the three weeks of beloved basketball games. Plus, we learned last year that we can actually learn a lot of lessons from the tournament, like a sense of teamwork and pride in one’s accomplishments. But what if we told you there’s a way to make March Madness a morale booster at your office? It’s possible, and all you have to do is follow these 3 simple steps.

1. Wear Team Apparel

Everyone’s got their favorite team they love to root for (or against). Encourage employees to show their colors during the tournament. Maybe it’s your alma mater, the school you rooted for as a young child, or maybe you just really love the mascot – we’re looking at you, Peter the Anteater. No matter what you wear, this is a great way for employees to get a glimpse of a more personal side of one another that isn’t always seen in the office. Plus, it can inspire conversation among employees who might usually not interact as often. After all, nothing brings people together like their shared love (or hate) for a team.

2. Host a Competition

There’s nothing better than a little bit of friendly competition throughout the office, so consider creating a competition that employees can participate in. Fun ideas like a bracket or office pool that’s open to the entire company can garner lots of excitement. Not to mention, 89% of employees said taking part in a competition like this makes them more excited about coming to work each day. Before you get too far, be sure that any competition you manage in the office abides by all state and federal laws, as well as your own company policy. Avoid monetary prizes and sweeten the pot in other ways. Office swag, a paid lunch, and of course, bragging rights until next year are all great prizes!

3. Organize an Activity

As much as we don’t want to admit it, March Madness might mean an employee spends a few minutes each day checking the scores or following a game here or there. But there’s also a great opportunity with an event like this to drum up a sense of camaraderie among employees. Try organizing an activity or two outside of the office that brings all the employees together and gives them a chance to bond over something other than work. This can create stronger relationships between coworkers, which in turn leads to better engagement and productivity in employees.

Dealing with the event of March Madness can be a struggle for HR professionals. It’s a delicate balance between creating an enjoyable work environment for employees while also making sure their work gets done. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity to boost morale, productivity, and engagement. Give this guide a try and bring the madness to your office this year!

Bring Some Madness Into Your Office

The frenzy of March Madness is alive and well in our office and it’s got us thinking about the dynamics that make these teams thrive. From recruiting top talent to honing players’ skills, there are a lot of factors that go into building a championship team.

In the spirit of the season, here are our favorite ways for developing great teams from March Madness.

Selecting Your Players Well

You know what they say – “You’re only as strong as your weakest link”. Selecting and recruiting the right candidates is essential to building a strong team. While it may take more work up-front, all the research and time invested will pay off as you build a solid foundation to support what lies ahead. Start off by investing in recruitment and make sure you’re adding people who will complement your culture, not just blend in. Determine your weaknesses and find players who will fill in the gaps.

Play to Their Strengths

According to Gallup, employees who use their strengths are SIX TIMES more engaged than those who don’t. Once you’ve attracted the star talent, now you have to keep them! Start by defining your employees’ strengths. A strength should be defined as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” Strengths should be invigorating, not draining and produce clear, effective results. You may find that one employee produces several great results but are on the edge of burnouts while another employee is bored. Developing your employees helps them stay passionate and forward-thinking, while creating a balance on your team.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

It’s a lot easier for basketball teams to stay focused on the goals ahead of them – win the game, win the championship, don’t get injured! In the office, however, it’s not so cut and dry. As a leader, it’s important to help lead your team to success by keeping them focused on your goal. Whether it’s a short term goal to accomplish for the week or a long-term goal for the year, find ways to track and measure progress towards your goals to keep employees motivated and united.

Spend Time Together Off the Court

David DeBusschere, named one of the greatest players in NBA history, once said “The best teams have chemistry. They communicate with each other and they sacrifice personal glory for the common goal.” The same is true in our workplaces. The best teams are the ones who spend time getting to know each other. Spending time outside the office can create a stronger, loyal, and happier team. When they have each others’ backs, they become unstoppable.

Celebrate Your Wins

No team leaves a championship game with a quick high five. They celebrate with loud cheers and celebrations. The same should be true of our wins in the workplace. When your team accomplishes a milestone, remember to take time to celebrate and acknowledge their achievements. After all, this is what all the work is for!

What are some ways you’re building strong team cultures in your workplace this year?

March Madness Doesn’t Have to Kill Productivity

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.