March Madness: 4 tips for Houston businesses to embrace 'The Big Dance'
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.
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.
Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.