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Here’s How Much March Madness Is Costing Your Employer

March Madness is an exciting time for college basketball fans — and a potential productivity nightmare for their employers.
march madness

“Between streaming games during work hours to filling out brackets to just discussing the games with co-workers, it’s likely employees will spend much more than one hour during the week-long tournament engaged in March Madness-related activities at work,” says Andrew Challenger, Vice President of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., in a statement.

Challenger adds: “The 2017 games saw 88 million livestreams. Even workers who aren’t deskbound will be distracted by these games. Bump time spent to two hours, and the tournament could cost employers nearly $5 billion in wages paid to distracted, unproductive workers.”

How March Madness Affects Productivity

  • 40 million Americans fill out brackets, according to the American Gaming Association. Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that this includes 23.7 million workers.
  • Average hourly earnings currently stand at $26.74, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • A 2012 MSN survey, cited by Challenger, found that 56 percent of American workers — or around 86.5 million employees — planned to spend at least an hour a day on March Madness-related activities.
  • Each lost hour of productivity costs employers $2.3 billion total (86.5 million workers X $26.74 per hour = $2.3 billion).

Should Managers Put the Kibosh on Sportsball Fun?

In a word: no. Human beings aren’t machines. They work better when they work together as a team — and Challenger reminds us that March Madness is a chance for workers to connect with their colleagues.

“The tournament is a perfect opportunity for colleagues to bond in the workplace,” he says. “Any attempt to keep workers from the games would most likely result in real damage to employee morale, loyalty, and engagement that would far outweigh any short-term benefit to productivity. Employers should embrace March Madness and seek ways to use it as a tool to foster camaraderie.”

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Tell Us What You Think

March Madness at the office — team-building fun or productivity sapping nightmare? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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