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Let the Madness Begin

March 18th, 2019 by Kenneth Abrahams

NCAA basketball

Every year there are events that occur that prompt news outlets and bloggers to discuss significant lost productivity in American businesses. One of those events has just passed, the Super Bowl.  Another is right around the corner, March Madness, the NCAA Division One basketball tournament; where 60 plus college teams around the country vie for a chance to become the National Champions. This tournament, like the Super Bowl, attracts ardent fans as well as casual observers from across the country, if not across the globe. Offices everywhere have their “for entertainment purposes only” tournaments. Where participants try to guess the outcome of each and every game in the bracket. These games are played on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and the final is on a Monday. 


Years ago, the loss of productivity could be contributed to a few office workers sneaking a peek at the scores and the pool organizer having to tally the sheets. A select group of employees would throw caution to the wind and call in sick to head to their local watering hole where they parked themselves in front of a bank of TV’s for about a dozen hours watching all or part of 16 games per day during the first two days of the tournament. Technology has given corporate America some of these man hours back with the advent of a number of sites that organize and track your pools for you. But, before you jump for joy, streaming services have people now staying at work but sneaking more than the occasional peek at the games throughout the day.


If you are in the undesirable position of managing staff during these events, what is one to do? How about instead of trying to police it, often unsuccessfully, we embrace it instead. March Madness comes at a perfect time of the year. For many it’s three-months removed from the holidays and at the end of a long dreary winter for many parts of the country, with short days and frigid temperatures. What a great time to do a little team bonding. Regardless of the size of your office or whether you are a small company, higher ed organization or major fortune 500 company, there are a lot of things that you can do.


Here are a few ideas:

  • Have a tailgate style potluck for lunch during one of the first few days of the tourney. Everyone brings a family favorite dish and the company provides beverages, plates other paper goods and decorations. 
  • A nerf or other small basketball hoop can be purchased for a free throw or HORSE shooting competition.
  • Have everyone fill out their brackets and the best score gets a gift card or scratch tickets. You can even do small prizes to give out at the end of each day.
  • Have a contest where people get to vote for the uniforms that they like the best.
  • Take your team out after work to go watch some of the games together.


Regardless of what you do, your team will appreciate it. When March ends you are already one quarter of the way through the year and there is no better investment you can make then in those folks that you work with. If we are truly being honest, people waste time at work every day. They check Facebook and other social media platforms, they play games on their computers, cell phones and tablets, take a “lunch break” to get their hair done and still manage to find time to eat lunch.


If your organization is anything like ours, your people are your most valuable asset. Spending a little time to get to know them and have a bit of FUN at the office is never a bad thing. If you need some help planning your big tourney celebration call us or send us an email. We are happy to help. Whether you want ideas for events or help booking hoop-themed caricatures, just let us know. Wherever we go we bring the FUN.

After I completed this blog, the Outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray and Christmas came out with a press release and a report on this very topic. They estimate that companies will lose 13 BILLION dollars in productivity due to the NCAA Tournament. However, they also believe that trying to stop or regulate it is even more difficult and potentially damaging. They reached the same conclusion I did that this gives organizations the opportunity to help bolster their corporate culture and attract good workers to their organizations. So don’t take my word for it take the word of the experts.

About the author:

Ken Abrahams is from Indiana like Larry Bird –  a Hoosier born and bred. Unlike Larry Bird he has zero basketball skill but is a long-standing fan of the NCAA Tournament. If you are struggling with your picks for your bracket please don’t ask his advice, he is probably more clueless than you are. 



Photo by Todd Greene on Unsplash

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