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Tackle the Madness of March Madness and Engage Your Employees

Sports are a large part of American culture, with countless Americans either playing or following sports.   

Sports take up a significant amount of time. And with different sports occurring year-round, it’s inevitable that sports would, at some point, interfere with your employees’ work. Especially the “big games,” such as the Super Bowl, which took place a couple weeks ago. Fortunately for you, it always falls on a Sunday, and while you may have a football-themed party to end that Friday’s work day, you otherwise don’t have anything to fear about lowered productivity.

Coming up in March, though, is March Madness. And unlike the Super Bowl, March Madness doesn’t fall directly on a weekend. The first (and busiest) round of the basketball tournament starts Thursday, March 15, and extends through that weekend. Then it picks up again on Thursday, March 22, and extends through that weekend. Whew, that’s a lot of basketball!

Most of the excitement, though, falls in those first few days (the 15th and 16th)—when spectators cheer for 64 teams, maybe their own included, to reach the coveted National Championship spot.

So, unlike the Super Bowl, you need to figure out how to handle the madness of March Madness. In the past, you may have discovered employees streaming basketball games at their desk or debating the best teams in the break room. How do you handle this? Do you brusquely tell them to get back to work?

There could be another way.

Have you tried leaning into the madness? Embracing the madness? Let’s see how this could work out:

Organize a bracket contest. Have your employees make brackets and keep track of the winners and losers of each game. This engages them in a little healthy competition and helps foster good work relationships. And don’t forget to have prizes! An award card or merchandise are great non-cash options.

Broadcast games in the break room. This could be your “hub” for the tournament. Post a master bracket so people can follow along and update their own brackets, and then have the games playing on a TV or two. That way, in their 15-minute breaks, they can enjoy a game and some community, rather than watching it in their car or in a hidden location by themselves.

Watch some of the game. Sponsor breaks to watch the first 10 minutes of each of a handful of games (essentially, it’s like watching the first quarter, since college basketball is played in two 20-minute halves). If you allow people to come watch the first 10 minutes of, say, 4 games, that’s 40 minutes of break time. That’s not even a full lunch hour, and it gives you control over when the TV is on and when it’s off. Plus, short breaks every so often can really improve your employees’ productivity, giving them time to clear their minds and focus on something not work-related.

Make it a lunch thing. Cater in lunch and spend an hour watching the games! This way, you’re taking advantage of the time your employees already take off during the day. Plus, they don’t waste time driving to and from home or a restaurant to watch it. They’ll be happy because they can see more of the game, and you’ll be happy because there’s no risk of them losing track of time or coming back from lunch late. You control the parameters—when the TV turns on and when it turns off.

Enjoy happy hour with your team. Call it a day at 3:00 and enjoy appetizers with your employees as you watch the game for the last two hours. Giving employees the freedom to have fun at work produces great results.


Customize It for Your Company Culture

These ideas are flexible! And whether you do something one day or both days, keep this in mind: It’s only two days. Try something out and see how it goes. It could be the first step toward a better company culture. And, most likely, with your employees not feeling like they have to hide their March Madness obsession (or mild interest), you’ll spark more productivity in the times they’re at their desk. Because they’re appreciative.

Need more ideas for how to improve your company culture? We have many great blog posts about that. Check them out here. Or, talk with one of our experts to find out more about more in-depth programs and rewards to keep your employees engaged and focused. Request a FREE demo here, or call us at 888.919.7600.