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By March 15, 2017No Comments

Happy March Madness! The following is our annual post about how the NCAA Championship Basketball Tournament affects American workplaces. (Full disclosure: The main reason for covering this subject is so we can embed a video of college basketball highlights at the end.)

This week starting at 12 Noon Eastern on Thursday bandwidth at offices around the country will be affected by live streaming of college basketball. Managers of organizations big and small will, in their own ways, remind workers that they are to work while in the office not pray for buzzer beaters. Many mangers may also remind staff that their lunch breaks are 60 minutes long and not 120 minutes long. They do this for good reason. This basketball tournament does, for a short time, have a negative affect on office productivity.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates about 51 million office workers join office pools during this time of year. Based on the country’s average hourly wage of $25.35, the firm estimates employers will lose $1.3 billion in pay to slacking employees per hour of distraction. And that’s just money lost watching the games. When you add up the time spent to organize pools and complete brackets the losses reach nearly $4 billion.

“Let’s conservatively assume that workers will spend at least one hour putting together their office pool brackets, and then at least two more hours streaming games during the workday on Thursday and Friday,” Andrew M. Challenger, vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., said in a press release. “That’s about $3.9 billion in lost wages paid to unproductive workers in the first week of the Tournament.”

Okay, so it costs the country a little bit of change for a few days. Are there any positive effects from all this co-worker interaction? There are!

A new survey by Randstad US finds March basketball brackets and office pools can improve key workplace initiatives, including employee engagement, camaraderie and work satisfaction. The study found nearly 9 in 10 workers (89%) agree office pools help build better team camaraderie and 58 percent completely or strongly agree. The findings also point to other positive outcomes, particularly when it comes to Gen Z and Gen X:

  • 84 percent of workers agree office pools go a long way to make their jobs more enjoyable (91% of Gen Z; 88% of Gen X)
  • 79 percent of employees agree participating in office pools greatly improves their levels of engagement at work (85% of Gen Z; 84% of Gen X)
  • 73 percent of workers agree they look forward to going to work more when they participate in office pools (82% of Gen Z and Gen X)
  • 50 percent of employees meet up with coworkers after work to watch a college basketball game in March (58% of Gen Z; 53% of Gen X)
  • 39 percent became closer with a coworker after participating in an office pool (58% Gen Z; 41% Gen X)

This is great. We finally know how much it costs to keep up morale in the workplace! About $4 billion a week.

And as promised, that highlight reel video. Good luck all you Cinderella’s!


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