The NCAA basketball tournament begins this Thursday (or Tuesday/Wednesday if you count the new 2 games pre-tournament tournament to get from 68 teams to 64 teams). I always enjoy the NCAA tournament and in particular the Thursday and Friday games that open the tournament. Since the games start at Noon and go until midnight there is constant action and often many exciting finishes.
After a long winter the NCAA tournament is truly a harbinger of spring. But it’s also a harbinger of lost worker productivity. One article from last year http://bit.ly/9zrEtQ noted that more than $ 3.8 billion would be lost in worker productivity during the 2010 tournament. The simple fact is that a large number of people are distracted (happily so) from their day to day activities. And there are arguments on both sides of the equation – is that loss of productivity offset by an improvement in employee morale?
The largest illegal betting event in the United States, the NCAA’s position on betting the games is that it is illegal and frowned upon. Tell that to the newspapers that print point spreads and CBS Sports which has coined the term ‘Bracketology’ to help people with their strategy in filling out their game by game tournament predictions.
But I argue that while there is definitively lost productivity during the tournament the overall excitement and positive feeling generated by the games helps make the workplace a much more pleasant environment in the short term, and an even more productive workplace in the long term. Why? Because people talk to one another, email one another, call one another, customers and co-workers interact in a fun and more casual way which results in building better relationships all around.
Interpersonal relationships are built one moment at a time. And the more people get to know one another the better the chance is for a deeper understanding of what the person is all about. Having fun in the office is a part of that – an undervalued one if you ask me. It’s hardly a secret that the best working environments have a big component of fun and laughter being a part of their everyday life.
March Madness allows for the opportunity for your team to blow off steam, have a little fun and not have the same old conversations over and over. I’m not suggesting hosting an office pool but for those people that manage teams and employees you should consider how you can make a big event like the NCAA tournament a team building exercise instead of trying to police the situation in the hope of recovering what you perceive as lost productivity.
Besides that, you can take solace there are still many people who don’t like college basketball anyway.
Too bad for them.