March Madness Will Draw Your Employees’ Focus from Work, Surveys Says

How can you stop the drain on employee productivity during March Madness?

The madness has begun. And if you have millennial employees, there’s a good chance the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will distract them.

Employee Productivity During March Madness

You’re likely to see the famed basketball tournament brackets floating around your office. And the chatter at the water cooler may have more to do with underdogs and Cinderellas than it does with getting that big project done on time. In fact, the March Madness tournament is likely to cost American businesses, overall, at least $600 million this year.

That figure comes from employees spending time filling out their brackets and following the results instead of doing work. That’s a lot of down time.

And it’s likely the most time wasted is being done by millennials.

New data from The Tylt shows that employees in the millennial group are likely to put off a work deadline to catch the games on TV (or wherever they’re watching these days). According to a survey conducted recently, 55.8 percent of millennial employees put their brackets first over a work project. Just 44.2 percent of those surveyed say work comes first when it comes to the work and basketball balance.

It seems small business owners are up against it like a 16-seed facing a 1-seed in the opening round of the tournament. There may be no way of preventing employees from following the tournament, even when they’re at work.

Another survey from The Tylt shows 63.5 percent of employees are going to watch the early basketball games on Thursday and Friday (the first and second rounds of the tournament) while they’re at work. Only 36.5 percent of employees say they’ll only watch games at home.

The Office Pool

So, with the odds against you, what can you do to take advantage of your distracted employees?

An office pool may be the answer. Of course, you’ll want to make sure this is a legal office pool with no money involved. Instead of a cash prize, offer some type of work-related prize, like access to a prime parking spot or the keys to the executive restroom.

More Tylt data shows office pools (legal or not) are quite popular among millennials. Among those surveyed, 78.5 percent say “Office Pools FTW” while just 21.5 percent say the pools have no place at work.

All this information shows it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent your employees from getting distracted by the basketball tournament. At the very least, keep a majority of your employees engaged with their work while they’re tracking their brackets.

Photo via Shutterstock


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

2 Reactions
  1. But you can also use it as a motivation tool. If you do it right, it can make your employees more productive.

  2. As my own boss, I know that I get distracted. But being all work, no play can be really exhausting. Find ways to leverage an event like this to improve morale while still ensuring that the necessary work gets done.