4 Reasons to Embrace March Madness

Employees love to waste time at work during the NCAA tournament. Turns out, that can be a good thing.

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Steve StraussOK, so it's that great time of year again -- March Madness. Are you ready for some basketball? Here are a few statistics to whet your appetite:

$55: The cost to buy a Jimmer Fredette jersey. Fredette is the BYU guard who leads the nation in scoring, at almost 30 points per game.

$1.3 million: The cost of a 30-second ad during the Final Four.

48 million: The number of people who watched at least a bit of last year's Duke vs. Butler championship game; the highest-rated championship since 2005.

$2.5 billion: The estimated amount that will be bet this month on March Madness.

And the most important number, for our purposes . . .

8.4 million: The number of hours wasted by employees during March Madness, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

So the question of the day is: Should you put the kibosh on the "Madness"?

I say, embrace it. Instead of policing brackets and offing office pools, the better course of action is to not only allow it -- but encourage it.

Here's why the strategy makes sense:

1. Its unifying. The Big Dance has become one of the most beloved sports events in the nation. People love it, whether they follow hoops or not (and most don't), whether they are young or old, geek or nerd, male or female. That someone may not know George Mason from George Costanza makes no difference. How many events can claim that? Not many.

Moreover, offices pools are fun and people love a little wager. Anyone can enter and anyone can win. How great is that? All in all, March Madness is a team-building activity, if you ask me.

2. It's realistic. If you really clamp down, people won't start an office pool. At least not out in the open. But will they do it surreptitiously, behind your back? Probably. And since you don't want to become the basketball police, a strategy of embracing the tournament will cause people to sneak less, work more.

Indeed, fighting bracketology is like swimming upstream. Sure, you can do it, but why? It's hard work. You're better off not fighting the tide. Instead, use the current to your advantage.

That you will have happier, more loyal employees as a result makes it a winning shot from downtown.

3. It's a fine diversion. Not everything at work should be about work. Your employees are still going to work hard while goofing off a little too, right? So if they want to watch the final five minutes of a game, is that any different than them perusing celebrity gossip sites during their break?

4. It builds your business. In the best-selling book, Fish: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, authors Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen show how having a fun workplace often is the difference between an ordinary business and an extraordinary one. What sort of fun, you ask? What about something like an office pool or a basketball break?

We don't need to go into overtime on this one. The score is clear: Lightening the load by embracing March Madness makes yours a much better, more enjoyable workplace.

And while we are at it -- Go Bruins!

Tags: Business Trends, Challenger Gray Christmas, March Madness, March Madness productivity, NCAA, NCAA pool, NCAA tournament, office pool

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