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Watching NCAA Tournament at Work? You’re Not Alone

bracket productivity

The NCAA Tournament has kicked off, causing billions of dollars in lost productivity. But is playing in the NCAA men’s basketball pool at the office a lose-lose situation for businesses?

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Productivity is going to decrease as workers focus on whether the Gonzaga Bulldogs can go all the way, or whether the UNC Wilmington Seahawks can beat Virginia in the East Region, or whether Villanova can repeat.

Workers are going to discuss their brackets, upcoming games or spend time streaming the live broadcast. That’s why it’s estimated it will cost businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Estimates vary on how Americans participate in March Madness pools each year. The American Gaming Association says about 40 million people will fill out more than 70 million NCAA Tournament brackets, with an average wager of $29 per bracket, according to FOX Business News.

“Efforts to suppress the Madness would mostly likely result in long-term damage to employee morale, loyalty and engagement that would far outweigh any short-term benefit to productivity...” Andrew M. Challenger

Outplacement consultancy firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates employers will lose $1.3 billion with workers paying more attention to the NCAA tournament than their jobs.

Office workers frantically checking their brackets and watching NCAA basketball tournament live streams will cost their employers billions of dollars of productivity this year, according to a report. But the effects of March Madness fever on the workplace aren’t entirely negative.

“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,” said Andrew M. Challenger, vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., in a press release. “That’s about $3.9 billion in lost wages paid to unproductive workers in the first week of the Tournament.”

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So if you are a boss, should you prohibit your employees betting on the NCAA tournament? Well, there might be good reasons not to take that action.

“Efforts to suppress the Madness would mostly likely result in long-term damage to employee morale, loyalty and engagement that would far outweigh any short-term benefit to productivity,” said Challenger. “And, with labor markets getting tighter and tighter, employers would be better off embracing March Madness.”

OK, so who do you want to go all the way this year?

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About the Author: 

Mike Hardman is a veteran editor and journalist, working for on line and newspaper publications and in radio and television during a 35-year career. He has been honored nationally, regionally and statewide for excellence in editing and reporting. Mike was also a regional editor for AOL-Patch, covering Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and has written for a variety of publications, including GateHouse Media, the Boston Globe and the MetroWest Daily News. He earned a degree in Multidisciplinary studies (broadcast journalism) from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

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