Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

March Madness: How to Keep Your Corporate Culture Productive

The craziest part of March Madness might be how many productivity hours and how much money your company could lose. You’ve worked hard to establish an attractive corporate culture, so you’re not crazy about the idea of cracking down on Internet usage just in March. You trust your employees, and that trust is part of what makes your corporate culture so great.

However, ignoring the NCAA Division I championship tournament, with all its betting and brackets? That might just be madness. 

How Does March Madness Impact Productivity? 
Why is March Madness such a productivity drain? It’s hard to say for sure, but many of your workers will likely go in for a few friendly wagers in the month of March. In fact, according to this infographic about the madness that takes hold in March, 58 percent of workers (more than half of your staff!) plan to place their bets on the NCAA tournament.

Since workers are closely following all the action, you’ll likely see employees working hard on their brackets instead of the big project you just gave them. In fact, 86 percent of workers will spend at least some time at work keeping track of the results. This might explain why you’ll be losing an average of 90 productivity minutes per day to the siren call of March Madness.

Unsurprisingly, all this bracketing can be terrible for your bottom line. Last year in the first two days of the tournament, it was estimated 2.5 million workers cost approximately $175 million in lost productivity hours. Other estimates put the amount of lost money due to the basketball tournament as high as $1 billion dollars. Ouch!

How Can You Combat March Madness and Preserve Your Corporate Culture? 
The problem is, your employees love March Madness. Cracking down on the crazy brackets and betting pools entirely is likely to have a negative effect on your hard-won corporate culture. So what exactly should you do to keep your employees working and maintain your organizational culture at the same time?

Put Time Aside for Brackets
You know what they say: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This might actually be a good way to approach the madness sweeping your office. Instead of watching like a hawk for anyone filling in their brackets, put aside a day at the beginning of the NCAA tournament and make bracketing an office affair.

By putting aside a specific, measurable time for workers to put together their best guesses, you’ll be undercutting their urge to work on their basketball bets in the office.

Turn The Tournament Into Team Building
March Madness isn’t just a productivity drain, it can also be a great way to actually improve your corporate culture. Use the tournament as a way to improve your relationships with employees and get the whole office involved in a fun activity.

Sure, it’s not work-related, but the benefit to your organizational culture might be worth a little office time spent discussing your teams. This team-building in the name of basketball might pay off down the line, when more engaged employees are willing to work together like a well-oiled machine because of the fun organizational culture you established in March.

Stress Deadlines
As fun as getting a little crazy in March can be, you know work needs to get done. Looking at the lost productivity and profits above, you know a little team building is not going to take the place of $1 billion dollars.

So while it’s great to have a fun organizational culture in March, make sure every employee knows the first priority is always to get work done. If all projects are completed, all emails are answered, and your employees have gone over and above, only then is it time to turn an eye towards NCAA basketball scores.

March Madness can be a stressful time for your company, but it can also be a great time to improve your organizational culture while keeping your office on track.

How do you maintain your corporate culture during college basketball season? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr Photo by mvongrue.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).