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Performance management during March Madness: technical foul or slam dunk?

Is it reasonable for companies to hold their employees accountable to maintain normal productivity expectations and adhering to workplace rules during March Madness? (via MySafetySign.com).

Is it reasonable for companies to hold their employees accountable to maintain normal productivity expectations during March Madness? (via MySafetySign.com)

Back in 1891, a main form of transportation was by horse and buggy. Ellis Island hadn’t opened its doors yet. Heck, Abercrombie & Fitch wasn’t even in existence. However, a monumental invention occurred that year when James Naismith developed the game of basketball. Fast-forward 124 years to present day, and the sport has evolved to colossal proportions. Not only basketball has changed, though; technology and the way we acquire information and news has gotten an epic face lift.

Where basketball and technology merge nowadays is concretely evident in the upcoming NCAA Tournament—a 67 game marathon over a three week span, many during the day hours, which streams for free online. A large debate has arisen whether or not this ease of access to follow live games during the workday is a threat to performance management and company profits.

Organizing tournament bracket pools, often involving money to participate, is apropos in offices across the country (via USA Today).

Organizing tournament bracket pools, often involving money to participate, is apropos in offices across the country (via USA Today).

One of the stricter arguments against fusing March Madness with on-the-job duties revolves around its legality. Requiring a money buy-in to join an unofficial office pool is technically considered workplace gambling in many states, and outrightly forbidden in federal offices. In addition, businesses are concerned that streaming live video feeds hoards bandwidth and could cause network connectivity issues. The bottom line is that March Madness’s price tag for compromised labor hours of nearly three million employees stacks up to $134 million. This amount looks like quite the chunk of change, but are there other beneficial effects that might make that figure more palatable?

Basketball rules don't fully apply to the workplace, but many employees would argue otherwise during March Madness (via PlaygroundSigns.com).

During March Madness, basketball rules take precedence over workplace ones (via PlaygroundSigns.com).

Despite the expense, it’s possible that managers have warmed up to employees actively following tournament games and collaborating in organizing office bracket challenges. Here’s some data: just 9% of upper management in a survey consider watching March Madness on the job as a hindrance to productivity, down from 22% in 2010; on the other hand, one-fifth of executives voiced optimism that the tournament actually boosts office morale and output. Altogether, three out of four managers consider the Madness to have an insignificant impact on business operations.

We’d love to know what the attitude towards March Madness is like in your office. Do you plan on switching back and forth between spreadsheets and games? Or are you a die-hard fan that uses vacation days during the tournament to keep tabs on all the action?

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