March Madness Distraction: Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Watching_TV_GuyLast week our company did something that likely struck a cord with our employees. We live streamed a company-wide internal announcement at the same time the first March Madness game tipped-off. While we may have stolen the market share of a few hundred folks, it certainly didn't stop an estimated 54 million live video streams in the first week.  

To be clear, this wasn't done intentionally, and we weren't trying to send a message. However, we did address the fact that March Madness is estimated to cost employers upwards of $1.9 billion in lost wages. In the fast-paced world of staffing and recruiting, addressing the time spent (and lost) in workplace distractions is an important message. But, how do you convey your message effectively?

You could follow the lead of the Nebraska capital office's Chief Information Officer, Brenda Decker who went as far as blocking the widely popular NCAA basketball tournament. She addressed legislative and judicial administrators in an email stating:

"As a policy, the office of the CIO blocks several items such as gambling, pornography, sites notorious for malware, etc.," the email read. "Also, in each March we block March Madness to ensure that that the network doesn't have an issue with productivity as a result of several people video streaming March Madness during the work hours."

Too far? Maybe, depends on your company and its culture. To better assess how to counter the distractions of your organization's sports-crazed faces, let's start with the root of the problem. To do so, you have to understand what is motivating your employees. We came across this great blog that shared tips to avoid the madness. Below are a few suggestions for you to consider. For our Philadelphia-based corporate office, with Villa Nova out, it seems like it's back to business as usual. 

Bracket Distraction

Each March, some unlucky schlep (who probably started it for fun with a few buddies) gets burdened with managing an office pool. It can included everyone from the boss to the person in accounting who knows nothing about basketball, brackets, or breakaways. The NCAA March Madness office pool really is madness. If you're going to a be on board, then you've got to be all in. Allow for flexible hours or set a designated area in the office where these actives can happen (and be monitored). 

Team Spirit

According to the blog, one-third of executives stated that March Madness has positively impacted employee morale. I know in an office filled with diverse and competitive individuals, showing a little team spirit can go a long way. Specify a day or period of time when employees can come to the office in their team jersey. Not only will this boost employees' spirits, but it's great social media content. 

Assign a Referee 

If you are going to allow the office pooling or brackets to happen, then be smart about it. Instead of turning a blind eye, have a key member in the organization involved in the process. By putting it all on the table, employees are less likely to sneak off to compare brackets, and you'll ensure that company policies are not violated in the process. 

You can apply these tips to a number of popular champion sports divisions. As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


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