Are there “net” gains from celebrating March Madness at work? OfficeTeam recently asked more than 1,000 managers whether NCAA 300px-Coachkflsbasketball tournament festivities in the office, such as watching game highlights or engaging in friendly competitions, affect morale and productivity. One in five (20 percent) of those surveyed felt activities tied to the college basketball playoffs improve employee morale at least somewhat, compared to only 4 percent of respondents who viewed them negatively.

“It’s often better for managers to acknowledge the appeal of events like March Madness and provide opportunities for their staff to enjoy the festivities rather than ignore them,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. “Employees need a chance to bond with co-workers over shared interests. Group activities — whether based on the NCAA basketball tournament or other events — provide a channel for team building.” 

OfficeTeam offers  tips to help companies celebrate March Madness while keeping employees’ heads in the game:

  1. Grant time-outs. Allowing employees to take quick breaks to check scores or chat with co-workers about the tournament can help them recharge. An informal lunch or dinner at a restaurant to watch a big game also can build camaraderie.
  2. Foster friendly competition. Let staff wear their favorite teams’ apparel or decorate their workspaces, within reason, to get in the spirit. Consider organizing an office competition where individuals can win bragging rights or small items such as company-awarded gift certificates without the exchange of money.
  3. Go over the rules. Clearly communicate policies regarding employee breaks and Internet use so professionals know what’s acceptable when it comes to March Madness and other non-work activities.
  4. Take the lead. Set a good example by showing how to participate in tournament festivities without getting sidelined from responsibilities. If you complete assignments before talking hoops, employees will likely follow suit.