March 21st marks the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, and you know what that means; an unproductive work force. Managers and HR departments struggle to keep their employees operating at a normal production level, and according to Chris Morris from www.fortune.com, “the average worker will spend up to six paid hours focusing on sports related activities during the tournament.”
A study conducted by WalletHub found that approximately 24 million people participated in NCAA March Madness pools, and they anxiously follow scoreboards to see how their bracket shapes up. Chris Morris states that “On average, workers spend 25.5 minutes per day monitoring the games- with checking game scores and team rankings being the most popular distractions.” Employees can also be more inclined to spend extra time chatting at the water cooler or coffee machine as a direct result of their March Madness brackets. Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a subsidiary of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, found that March Madness is almost as distracting as texting and Facebook. Wallethub estimates that over $6.3 billion in corporate losses occur due to employees participating in March Madness related activities.
While the financial impact is distinctly negative for corporate offices, there is an upside to workers watching the tournament, mainly morale building. Employees can get a sense of rejuvenation from taking a quick break to catchup on scores and also bond with their coworkers. Direct production certainly decreases this time of year, but office morale tends to be higher than usual and the lasting effects can be a big bonus to businesses.