You may as well throw away the idea of having a productive workforce during the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. At least that's what reports such as the one commissioned by Challenger, Gray & Christmas want you to believe.
"IT'S MARCH MADNESS" begins the report's title, with a claim that the NCAA Tournament "could" cost $1.9 billion in lost wages paid to "distracted and unproductive workers." However, much of the college basketball competition in March occurs during the weekend, when a lot of the small and large business workforce is away from the office.
As for the games that remain to be played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament -- the Final Four -- the 2 semifinal matches will occur on Saturday with the championship game to tip off on Monday at approximately 9 p.m. Eastern, distracting very few from their normal jobs.
The hysteria over a depletion in job efficiency come March Madness is largely the result of a wrongful belief that filling out a bracket leads to distraction from your obligations at work. But for the die-hard fans, most employees are fine with following along to see who won and lost, and care little about lead changes throughout a given game.
However, new commissioned Nielsen research does indicate that Americans who visit bracket sites spend more time watching the NCAA Tournament than those who do not. The viewership is increased the most in early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, when some games do fall on weekdays.
Earlier this month, the American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated that 40 million Americans will wager $2 billion on more than 70 million brackets. A betting analyst from SportsBettingExperts.com predicts that the AGA's estimate is modest and believes hundreds of millions more will be wagered, mostly illegally.
When people make wagers, they naturally care about following their bets.
Why shouldn't employers be overwhelmingly concerned? Because the Nielsen study found that those who visit bracket sites spend only 86 more minutes watching the NCAA Tournament than those who do not, and a chunk of those minutes are spent watching over the weekend. Furthermore, those minutes are spread through a month's time.
Additionally, wise employers will figure out how to reverse engineer the problem by turning it into a vehicle for enhanced productivity. An example of same is provided by way of steam-cleaner maker Dupray Inc.
Last year, the company broadcast some NCAA Tournament games on the office's radio and allowed workers to stream games on their computer monitors. The result was that 2 large projects were finished ahead of time despite the fact that March Madness was underway.
"When leaders or bosses give a perk to employees, they want to pay it back," explained Dupray manager Matthew Mercuri in a BizTech article. "The people who work here aren't here to leech off the company. We have a good team."
Personal care product company NuSkin also embraces March Madness. Its 1,500 large workforce eats hot dogs and popcorn while working and tuning in to any 1 of 7 large TV screens during the NCAA Tournament.
"We understand that today and tomorrow they will spend more time watching games," said NuSkin vice president of human resources Dave Daines. "But next week, we'll get more productivity."
Maybe the key is to not treat March Madness like the plague. Understanding that people bet on games, fill out brackets and watch match-ups from time-to-time can create a corporate environment that thrives as opposed to one where employees will look over their shoulder throughout the day, wondering if they will be caught by a manager "wasting time."