It’s time for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Millions of Americans have filled out their brackets, started office pools and are prepared to stream games to their mobile devices at work – potentially costing businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity.
But instead of fighting March Madness, corporate America should embrace the opportunity toboost morale and forge a more cohesive workforce, said Ben Wright, a Ball State marketing professor.
He believes companies should integrate college basketball into the workplace.
“We have to remember that some fans — which is short for fanatics — spend months simply anticipating this time of year, spending untold hours to create and then meticulously follow their brackets,” said Wright, who noted a recent estimate by the Bleacher Report suggests that as many as 70 million brackets will be filled out in 2017. “As the popularity of March Madness has grown, it is nonsensical for managers to expect employees to enjoy the tournament only outside work hours. In fact, instead of blocking, banning or slowing down streaming capability during March Madness, many companies are encouraging employees to watch the games.”
The two NCAA tournaments run from until early April, providing basketball fans with high quality basketball across 12 different platforms.
To avoid liability issues, Wright advocates businesses have clearly defined policies(e.g., live streaming at work, employee banter, presence of office pools, etc.) for acceptable practices regarding the tournament.
“Moreover, most companies have moved to an ‘ante-free’ pool, where no money is required for entry to a March Madness bracket competition due to legal reasons and the increased awareness of potential gambling addictions.”
Wright pointed out that a report by the American Gambling Association estimated last year’s March Madness betting total exceeded $9 billion.
“So, as we prepare for another year of buzzer beaters and upset wins, managers should be aware of the effects of March Madness on productivity, but focus more on the benefits and potential opportunities this time of year creates. The tournament pulls people together, allowing people to share very special moments. That makes for a better workplace.”