Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March Madness and the Workplace

AOL has a great article on March Madness and its impact on employers: Is March Madness Really Good for the Economy? Everyone loves the college basketball tournament (OK, maybe not everyone) but for some reason it starts on weekdays. Namely, this Thursday and Friday. By Saturday, a full half (more if you count the "play-in" games) of the teams are gone. Thursday and Friday may be employees' only shot to see their team play.

So, what do employers see? Well, according to the article: "hangovers, missed work, depression and other downsides." In fact,
viewership is expected to skyrocket to 8.4 million hours during the workday.... And the potential loss in productivity... could easily add up to $192 million worth of financial loss.
Ouch! What's an employer to do?

The article advocates turning March Madness into a bonding opportunity, which is great if you can afford to have everyone sit around and watch basketball for two days. Maybe that can be done for one key game for a local team. That still leaves plenty of other games to distract employees though. Other ideas include using March Madness as an incentive - Set up performance competitions with the winner earning the privilege of watching a game.

Or, employers could draw the hard line - redistribute Internet policies, monitor computer usage, and block certain sites. This all becomes harder when seemingly every employee has a smart phone. Remember when employers ruled the Internet at work? Those days are gone. Managers could also setup specific productivity targets that must be met, whether basketball is on or not (easier in some jobs than others).

The point is, there is plenty for employers to think about. And just when you think you've got everything covered... there's the office pool! I'll direct you to Dan Schwartz on that issue: Beware the Ides of March (But that Office Pool is Probably Okay).

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.