Turn March Madness Into April Advantage: Engage the Hearts and Minds of Sport Enthusiasts


It started with Super Bowl Sunday.

This year roughly 103.4 million people watched the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots.  Seemingly some 16.5 million people or one in ten Americans skipped work the next day, according to CNBC, costing employers somewhere in the vicinity of $3 billion.

Then crossing oceans and time zones, for two full weeks the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics distracted an average 19.8 million American viewers daily.  If everyone who watched Olympic sports well into the wee hours came into work an hour late or spent even just ten minutes talking with co-workers about highlights instead of applying themselves to their jobs – well, it’s not just truant workers driving costs up and employee productivity down.

Then, no sooner are the Olympics behind us when we’re full bore into the Ides of March and March Madness, the 68-team NCAA basketball extravaganza that runs through until April. Over 23 million people watched the 2017 title game, which this year, happens to fall on a Tuesday. More lost productivity.

recent survey by TSheets asked employees about their work habits during the tournament. Respondents indicated:

  • Almost a quarter (24%) watch March Madness during meetings
  • Nearly 30% say they watch while working from home
  • Nearly 40% watch March Madness continuously during work hours, and
  • 23% of those who watch games at work, watch in secret

Why not expose those secrets? Seize the day to build team camaraderie. Use these occasions to bring colleagues together. Look at them as morale-boosting, employee engagement opportunities. Carpe diem!

  • Set up live stream stations where employees can check on results.
  • Hold pizza and wing department lunches around the lunchroom TV.
  • Offer late afternoon energy boost breaks complete with snacks and game updates.
  • Arrange morning debriefing meetings over that first coffee to rehash highlights, as a team.
  • Build on the momentum: start a basketball league as part of your health and wellness offering.
  • Incentivize productivity and efficiency by offering “late passes” leading up to the title game, to those deserving.

Or do it up in super grand style a la Heinz.  In lieu of a running a multimillion dollar Super Bowl commercial, in 2017 Kraft Heinz gave their salaried employees the day off following the game.

According to TSheet’s study, 29% of survey respondents reported looking forward to going to work and enjoying their working hours more than usual during March Madness. One in four said they noticed an increase in workplace camaraderie, one in five said they started work early to free up time throughout the day for game watching and 12% reported staying late to make up for time huddled around the TV monitor during the day.

So why not turn March Madness into April Advantage?  Give everyone something common to talk about that isn’t work and make the work environment just that little bit more engaging. A place that engages and brings people together is a workplace where employees bring their A-game to their jobs.

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