March Madness has significant effect on business productivity

Mike Ulishney, The Carroll News

Avid college basketball fan or not, it is the time of the year again when friends, families and coworkers gather around their televisions and computer screens to watch the thrilling Division-I basketball tournament known as March Madness.

According to The New York Times, it is estimated that nearly 47 million people will participate in this year’s March Madness bracket challenge, betting their own money in a chance to win a cash prize. The expected combined total for this year’s bracket challenge is $8.5 million. More money is expected to be put on the line in individual office brackets and those that are printed out, rather than using the online website.

While these exciting games draw attention from many across the nation, the series has a significant effect on productivity in the workplace. Many employees in the past have spent more time creating their bracket and watching the games than doing actual work. Instead of filing a report for a client, workers are filling out their brackets in hopes of bringing home the cash prize.

The growing popularity of streaming services makes it even easier compared to in years past to watch the games. All 67 tournament games will be available through 17 different streaming sites this year, making them accessible to almost everyone, says Fox Business. In an article published by CNBC, it said that last year there were an estimated $6.3 billion worth of losses during the March Madness tournament. This year, according to Fox Business, there will be an expected $13.3 billion lost as the March Madness fever continues to grow throughout the nation. Though these losses are extreme, many companies have no plan in place to police the office during the tournament.

March Madness, the hysteria stirred up over the NCAA college men’s baksetball tournament, was named the third top distraction in the workplace, according to CNBC. According to Fox Business, workers will typically spend six hours of their work time engaging in March Madness activities such as creating the bracket, speaking to co-workers about the tournament or watching the games, over the duration of the tournament.

The distraction of March Madness is not all bad news. This yearly event does carry some good into the workplace. Fox Business mentions that the bond created by co-workers helps to boost overall morale in the workplace.

Such bonding between managers and co-workers is time well spent. Vice President of Marketing at Emergenetics International, Mark Miller, claims though there may be short term losses during the March Madness tournament, in the months after the tournament, productivity will pick up and companies will be more profitable than in earlier months.

Miller advises other companies to follow Emergenetics’ footsteps and make this time enjoyable for employees, whether it be hosting a lunch viewing party or creating a company bracket — anything to boost co-worker morale is a plus.

As expected, this year’s March Madness tournament has been a thriller. As the tournament narrows down to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and ultimately the national championship, managers and executives can only expect more distractions in the workplace.

Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, Fox Business and CNBC was used in this report.