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March Madness: 4 tips for Houston businesses to embrace 'The Big Dance'

This major sporting event doesn't just have to disrupt your team. Photo via Getty Images

For sports enthusiasts, one of the most popular competitions that attracts tens of millions of viewers is here – March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. As fans gear up for three weeks of action, employers are also excited, but for very different reasons.

March Madness can be a distraction in the workplace that hinders productivity. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., lost productivity during the tournament can cost employers over $13 billion, with nearly 50 percent of workers spending more than six hours of work time on March Madness activities. With an increase in hybrid/remote workers, the stage is set for more employees to view games during the workday, leading to higher levels of productivity losses.

Although these numbers are staggering, savvy employers can leverage March Madness to promote team building and boost employee engagement, which can have a positive impact on long-term success. Below are four tips for business leaders to consider as they embrace March Madness.

Embrace the reality

Employers should accept the reality that employees will participate in March Madness activities regardless of company policies. With access to the tournament through streaming services, updates on websites, social media discussions, bracket activities and more autonomy in remote situations, it is impossible for employers to monitor.

Companies that embrace the madness will experience less frustration for management and greater appreciation from workers. More importantly, it demonstrates a human side when companies incorporate current events into daily interactions that support the interests of employees, along with business needs.

Understand the reality

While the tournament is a short-term event, the way employers handle it can have long-term benefits. As countless businesses look for ways to extend the culture to remote workers, leaders can rally around this event to facilitate more interactions and develop stronger bonds, further connecting employees to the company.

With proper management, levels of employee engagement, morale, performance and retention increase, which can have a dramatic effect on future initiatives and the bottom line. When leaders extend trust and enable employees the flexibility to enjoy the tournament in some manner, they are investing in the future.

Set guidelines

Business leaders should be proactive about March Madness by recognizing employees’ excitement and setting guidelines. A best practice is to distribute an email about the tournament and expectations surrounding activities, along with a reminder that sports gambling is illegal in the workplace.

For those coming into the office, enable televisions to display games so employees can get quick updates or watch games during breaks/lunch hours. When employees understand expectations, they are better able to manage their responsibilities and appropriately share in the festivities, leading to continued performance and improved morale.

Nurture the culture

March Madness is an ideal way to incorporate relevant activities that nurture the culture and involve remote employees. Encourage employees to wear jerseys of their favorite teams on game days, take pictures and post them on the intranet/social media. Hold a contest for the best-decorated workspace that includes home offices.

Hosting virtual events like bracket-picking breaks, game-watching gatherings and hoops happy hours offer groups a chance to connect. Awarding gifts cards to employees who pick winning brackets for the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four promotes friendly competition. A PTO raffle for picking The Big Dance national champion is a bonus. When employees are part of a fun environment, it increases camaraderie and team building that nurtures the culture.

As the hype around March Madness builds and people scurry to finalize their brackets, employers should join in on the excitement and seize the opportunity to bring remote teams closer to the fold, promote the culture and position the company for continued success.

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Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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Building Houston

 
 

With fresh funding, this Houston and Canada-based company has made an acquisition. Courtesy of Validere

After raising $43 million in funding for its series B round, Validere, a commodity management platform for the energy industry, has acquired Clairifi, whose technology helps energy businesses comply with environmental and regulatory requirements. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The funding round was closed in March and was led by Mercuria Energy and select funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, with participation from Nova Fleet, Pioneer Fund and NGIF Cleantech Ventures, as well as existing investors, including Wing VC and Greylock Partners, according to a news release.

“Validere’s mission is to ensure human prosperity through energy that is plentiful, sustainable and efficiently delivered," says Nouman Ahmad, Validere co-founder and CEO. "We facilitate this through integrating our customers’ core business with new environmental initiatives. In order to manage the energy transition well, environmental attributes cannot be managed in a silo, they need to be integrated in the day-to-day operations and commercial decisions."

Validere is based in Calgary, Alberta, and has its United States presence based in Houston. Clairifi also is based in Calgary. According to the company, the purchase of Clairifi strengthens Validere’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) offerings.

“Companies across the energy supply chain are often burdened by the arduous task of compliance reporting, a time-intensive process that is usually performed manually in Excel spreadsheets by costly environmental consultants,” Validere says in a news release announcing the Clairifi deal. “These issues are coupled with constantly changing environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, as well as disorganized data, which can cause confusion over meeting reporting requirements.”

Validere says that thanks to the integration of Clairifi, businesses can easily comply with current and future regulations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and can access a central platform to accurately measure, manage, and forecast emissions strategies.

“The implementation of costs on carbon and emission reduction requirements introduce new immediate and long-term consequences that cascade from the field to head office,” says Corey Wood, co-founder and CEO of Clairifi. “While regulatory compliance is often considered a burden on industry, requiring resources and continuous innovation, if we are well-prepared, these challenges may be used as catalysts to revive, refresh and improve.”

As part of the acquisition, Wood has joined Validere as vice president of emissions, regulatory, and carbon strategy.

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