March Madness in the Office

It’s that time of the year. The time affectionately referred to as “March Madness.” (Not sure how to add that copyright thingy there, so know that I’m thinking about you, R with a circle around it. And, spread some of that copyright love to the image in this post.) It’s the time when millions of people complete a bracket for the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments in hopes that their team may win. They hope to get them all right. It’s that time where you will hear phrase like “The 12-5 upset,” or “my bracket is busted.” There will be a buzz around the water cooler as people are talking about their bracket. And, this is a great opportunity to embrace the bracket in your organization.

You will start to see many articles pop up about the lost productivity during the NCAA tournament. Managers will do all they can to make sure their employees aren’t paying attention to the games. Some companies will block the sites to the various games so their employees can’t watch or track the games at their desks. Meanwhile, these same employees will head to the bathroom, break room, or walk around the block, to get a sneak peak on their phones. Instead of doing everything you can to block your employees from watching, I recommend you embrace it and encourage them to participate.

A few years ago, when I was a relatively new employee at a particular media company, I decided to introduce the bracket to my team. I was the only person interested in college basketball, at the time, and none of my peers even new what a bracket was. So, seeing an opportunity to have some fun and introduce them to something I enjoyed, I printed off some brackets, provided them with some instructions, and we plugged away. At a staff meeting, we all went around the room and explained our decisions on why we picked who we did. The answers ranged from the pretty uniforms, to our alma maters, to liking the mascot. We then hung the brackets on our doors and had a blast keeping track. I was fortunate to have a TV in my office (all employees had tv’s in their workspace. One perk to working in the media industry) and I could “keep track” of all the games throughout the day. And we all were able to remain productive.

March Madness has always been a fun time for me. Even though I’m not a huge college basketball fan, I love this time of year. My mom was an elementary school teacher and she would bring home several brackets and have me help her fill them out for the teacher pool. Of course, we always had one bracket with the Hoosiers winning it all. That wasn’t always a stretch in the early to mid ’90s. I’ll print out brackets for my kids and we’ll keep track for the next few weeks. Even though I complete them online, I still love printing them out and crossing off the winners and losers. My brothers and sister will spend time on the phone talking about all the great upsets and what teams we need to win so we can take home the prize.

For this March Madness, I encourage you to have a little fun. Sure, you will see those articles around the legalities of office pools. Hey, don’t do it for money. If you do, don’t tell me about it (or send me the link and I’ll jump right in.) In all seriousness, there are some things to be aware of if there are pools going on for money. I’m not going to get into that here and I recommend you check out some other great HR and legal sites to get the info.

I’m just asking you to look around the office and see what your employees are interested in. Talk to them about their passions. Engage in the conversation. You may learn a thing or two about them and may even have a little fun in the process.

Now, off to complete my brackets!




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