March is here and Tourney Time begins in a little over a week. According to a report by employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas released this week, companies should expect to see a dip in productivity, particularly during the first week of the tournaments.
“There are distractions every day at the office, but the first week of the annual men’s college basketball tournament is particularly hazardous to workplace productivity. While March Madness distractions may not alter the nation’s quarterly GDP numbers, you can be assured that department managers and network administrators notice the effect on work output and company-wide internet speeds,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The report goes on to cite a 2012 MSN survey reporting that 56 percent of workers devote over an hour of each workday to following the NCAA Tournament. However, rather than banning office pools or online streaming, Challenger suggests using this time to build employee engagement and morale.
“Department managers may notice that their workers are more distracted and the IT department may notice the loss of bandwidth. However, at the end of the day, it is unlikely that a few days of March Madness distraction will impact the company’s bottom line. Taking a hardline on office pools and online streaming, on the other hand, could have a dramatic impact on the bottom line, if it leads to increased turnover or causes employees to become disengaged, which will not only lower work both the quantity and quality of work output,” said Challenger. “Instead, employers may want to seek ways to use March Madness as a tool to increase employee engagement. Promoting a company-wide office pool that is free to enter, for example, could help boost camaraderie and encourage interaction among co-workers who may not typically cross paths. Relax dress codes and allow workers to wear sweatshirts and t-shirts in support of their favorite team,” he suggested.