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Managing the Madness for Employers

As the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off during the middle of the workday today with Ohio State’s opening game against Dayton, employers have a dilemma.

ThinkHR’s Laura Kerekes put it this way:

So let’s face it: productivity is reduced somewhat during March Madness. But also consider that office morale and camaraderie can also be impacted favorably by this event, too. So what should an employer do? Embrace March Madness, ignore it, or manage it? 

Recent calculations by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimated that office pools and online streaming of basketball games could cost America’s employers as much as $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour during the first week of the tournament. In addition, office pools often violate state or federal anti-gambling laws.

Despite these dangers, employers gradually seem to be embracing, or at least tolerating the tournament. HR executives point to the positives of team building and employee engagement. At least one recent study says March Madness may even boost employee morale. In addition, employers likely realize that the ubiquity of smartphones allows avid fans to follow the games regardless of where they are.

So what should employers do to manage the madness? Recommendations include a free-to-enter company-wide office pool; televisions in break rooms; a relaxed dress code to allow employees to wear their team’s colors; or even flexible hours to catch the big game. And as always, well-defined and clearly communicated office procedures are a must.

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