1 in 5 execs say March Madness boosts morale: Survey

Consider allowing employees to take quick breaks to check scores, organizing office competition

Are there "net" gains from celebrating March Madness at work?

One in five (20 per cent) executives in the United States said festivities around the NCAA basketball tournament, such as watching game highlights or engaging in friendly competitions, positively improve employee morale.

The majority (75 per cent) said March Madness events have no impact on morale or productivity, found the poll of 1,000 executives.

Just four per cent viewed the activities negatively.

Nearly one in five (16 per cent) managers said the activities had a positive impact on productivity. Three-quarters (75 per cent) said the activities have no impact while nine per cent cited a negative impact.

"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 five tips to help companies celebrate March Madness while keeping employees' heads in the game:

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.

• Foster friendly competition: Let staff wear their favorite teams' apparel or decorate their work spaces, 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.

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.

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.

Evaluate your bench: If team members want to take time off to watch the playoffs, ask them to submit requests as far in advance as possible. This will help you manage workloads and determine if interim assistance is needed to keep projects on track.

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