Recent statistics reveal that March Madness has become more popular than ever before, thanks in large part to the worldwide betting that takes place. Over 60 million people are expected to fill out brackets this year, with an estimated $10 million being put on the table. However, there is another cost which people may not expect: A downturn in employee productivity.
“March Madness can be a drain on a company’s time and resources,” says Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA. “With millions of Americans filling out brackets and managing their bets, you can bet that employee productivity takes a hit during this time of year.”
In fact, research shows that lost wages caused by employee distraction and poor productivity during March Madness could amount to losses of up to $1.9 billion!
Wilson says, “Between filling out brackets, researching picks, watching the games and then calling in sick or skipping work due to game days or hangovers, you are looking at a sharp downturn in employee performance. Luckily there are some ways you can manage this common nationwide issue.”
Offer computers for personal use. “Make sure that you are keeping a close eye on your employees’ internet usage,” says Wilson. “Any time employees have free, unfettered access to the web, you are going to be looking at a decrease in employee productivity. Here’s an alternative: Offer your employees 1-2 computers for personal use during their breaks. Make sure the computers are in a public area and have a sign-in sheet to ensure that everyone will get a fair chance to use the computers and that people do not use them for extended periods of time. That way, if anyone needs to check their personal email or use the internet on their lunch break, they don’t need to use their official work computers.”
Put televisions in the break room. “Again, rather than having employees use their computers or phones to check the score, provide a television in the break room or similar area. Allow employees to use the T.V. to tune into the games on their breaks, but again make sure that you have a sign-in sheet so that everyone can have a turn, whether they want to see a March Madness game or watch Days of Our Lives.”
Send out a company-wide reminder about in-office betting. “Depending on the state where you work, in-office betting could actually be illegal. Even if it is not illegal, I would advise that companies have a no-gambling policy, including office pools or any other communal stakes. Send out a company-wide reminder during this time to refresh employees’ minds and ensure that no March Madness takes place on company time.”
For those who do bet, take caution. “Some companies do allow betting, and if that is the case, remember that it is not a good idea for managers or higher-ups to take part. Instead, make it for junior employees only and rather than betting money, make the winnings a gift card to a local coffee shop or even a bonus vacation day.”
Advise employees to ask for personal days in advance. “If you know that your employees are going to want to attend a game or watch it from their couches or favorite bars, now is also a good time to send out a reminder about asking for personal days. Remind employees that they need to ask for days in advance and that late call-ins could result in a penalty.”