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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If you can't beat them...

Note: This post was originally published on March 18, 2014 and has been updated with new information.

If you can’t beat them…
Employers are gearing up for their next big challenge and it’s not health care or minimum wage. It is the road to Phoenix, the NCAA basketball tournament. March madness is about to tear through the country and the business world. Every year businesses struggle with the dilemma of keeping productivity at optimum levels while not dampening morale. In recent years, companies have experienced another problem…clogged networks caused by streaming videos.

Most games tip off in the middle of the work day. A 2014 MSN survey said that 86% of those polled said they plan on devoting some of their work day to the tournament. Turner Sports, which operates the NCAA website, said that visitors who watched games online averaged one hour and 51 minutes of open stream time. For unprepared companies the demand on networks can be strenuous, at the least. Responding to the expected demand, companies are better planning for late March and staffing their IT departments.

Over 10.7 million people watched the tournament in 2013, the highest since 1994.  A Challenger, Gray & Christmas study revealed that 50 million Americans participate in some sort of March Madness office pool. Further, companies stand to lose $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour in the first week of the tournament. On the flipside, Quicken Loans is offering a billion dollar prize for the submission of a perfect bracket.

…Join them
Employees will find a way to watch, if not through the office network, then through their personal phones and tablets. Some who are wary of snooping supervisors have installed apps that have “boss” buttons, which quickly turns the image into a spreadsheet. Blocking websites and strictly enforcing policies may not be the best for morale. Society for Human Resource Management revealed that human resource professionals found that morale went up with office sponsored pools. Experts are saying that companies should embrace this time of year. Offer office pools or challenges. Provide televisions to discourage streaming.

You can’t fight it. Employees are going to watch games, check scores and stats, and compete in pools. What is really going to affect morale and productivity is how your business handles it.