Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Here’s what this blog post is NOT going to tell you: how to raise your office’s productivity in the wake of March Madness. March Madness, if you are one of the few in the US and abroad that aren’t familiar, is the annual college basketball tournament that millions watch, according to Neilsen rankings. The tournament draws millions more online (8.6 million to be exact!) according to Tech Crunch. And guess what, employers—it starts at midday on Thursday and Friday, which means that your workers might be less than productive.

March Madness and productivity has been widely studied:

  • Investor’s Business Daily estimates productivity losses in the US to equal $192 million!
  • Chicago Business estimates that 46% of workers have participated in office pools.
  • The Miami Herald reports that over $2.5 billion (that’s billion with a B!) is spent on office pools alone each year.

So what this means is that chances are your employees will be unproductive and distracted this week. What does that mean for your workplace? For big projects and initiatives that need to get done? For workplace productivity? And how can you combat this?

My answer: Don’t combat it—embrace it! The short-term losses in productivity will be more than made up in the long term if you engender an atmosphere of fun, competition, and collaboration.

Employee engagement, as a whole, has clear ramifications for success. According to HR Management, reporting on a study by Wharton professor Alex Edmans, employee engagement is good for the bottom line. They analyzed the financial performance of a portfolio of stocks selected by Fortune magazine as the “Best Companies to Work for in America” from 1998–2005. By the end of 2005, these stocks “earned average annual returns of 14 percent by the end of 2005, over double market return.”

During this week, take a page from the employee engagement book instead of the productivity book; you might be surprised at how productive engaged employees can be. Here are a couple ideas of what our office is doing:

  • Lunch viewing party and potluck
  • Office pool with a designated prize (in our case a really amazing 8-inch trophy with a spinning basketball)
  • Worldwide online pool with our clients, Associates and colleagues

Have fun with March Madness and know that productivity can’t always be measured in clear ways. Engaging employees in new ways will pay off in the long run.