Want a Happy Office? Let Them Watch the NCAA Tournament

embrace the tournament

The NCAA tournament is here and along with it office brackets and the never-ending debate about whether allowing employees to take part in “March Madness” activities at work is a good or bad thing.

Which side of that argument you come down on is probably irrelevant. According to CNBC a staggering 70 million tournament brackets were completed last year, amounting to about $10.4 billion wagered in total, according to a report by WalletHub.

That’s about twice as much as during the Super Bowl. And only a couple billion more than the cost of lost productivity during the tournament. All that time spent on those brackets has a huge impact on company’s bottom lines — an estimated $6.3 billion in corporate losses just last year according to the same survey.

In fact, a separate survey by Seyfarth Shaw at Work found that March Madness ranked third among tech-related office distractions, directly behind texting and Facebook.

March Madness…workplace productivity killer?

Marketwatch put together some research that shows that workplaces that embrace the tournament actually see a boost in morale.

According to another survey by staffing company OfficeTeam, 46% of professionals are all-in when it comes to celebrating sporting events like March Madness in the office, while 33% aren’t big fans but will play along. About 62% of workers said they check scores while at the office.

In less tolerant workplaces, 23% said they have to watch in secret, with one in five saying they’ve had to resort to watching games in the bathroom at work.

68% of those surveyed by TSheets said watching games increases or has no effect on their productivity. While one in five workers said they’ll work fewer hours during the tournament, although, about the same number of workers said they’d come in early or work later to make up for time spent watching games.

Watching the tournament boosts morale

Watching tournament games at work actually does seem to boost attitudes. Last year, a survey released by HR and staffing company Randstad U.S. found that 89% of workers said participating in March Madness activities helped boost morale, and 73% said they actually looked forward to coming to work more.

Bottom line – let workers watch

The message for stricter workplaces seems to be that it’s happening anyway, whether you want to or not so you are probably better off embracing the morale boost than worrying about the lost productivity.

Besides, most employees said they plan to make up for lost time. Good workers won’t miss a deadline over the tournament, even if they may take an extra break this week