How Did March Madness Affect Work Productivity?

Geoff Ratliff@@geoffratliffContributor IIIApril 2, 2013

How Did March Madness Affect Work Productivity?

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    The NCAA Men’s Division-I Basketball Tournament is notorious for rendering office workers all over the country for three weeks.

    The growth of the Internet and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have become huge time sucks for millions of office workers, but the NCAA Tournament takes the normal lack of productivity to an entirely different level. 

    Let’s face it: Even your boss—who loathes the widespread lack of focus from his team—is secretly pulling you into his office wondering if Lousville is a legitimate threat to be the last team standing when One Shining Moment marks the end of the tournament. 

    According to Forbes contributor Darren Heitner, the drop in office productivity around March Madness may be a bit overstated. Still, here are 10 statistics that suggest the theory may have some truth to it.

10. 2.5 Million People Per Day Follow the Tournament at Work

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    According to this 2011 study by employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, about 2.5 million people spend an hour and a half of each workday following the NCAA Tournament. If your employees have not been answering telephone calls and seem a little slow responding to emails, now you know why.

9. More than 8 Million Hours Spent Watching Games During Workday...

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    According to the same study, workers spent roughly 8.4 million hours watching NCAA Tournament games during the workday. This only includes the people live streaming games on CBSSports.com, not the ones sneaking off to their local Buffalo Wild Wings for extended lunch breaks. 

    Note to office managers everywhere: Do not try scheduling any meetings or conference calls this Thursday or Friday, because attendance will be very poor.

8. ...But Your Employer is Desperately Trying to Stop You

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    Your employer is using every means necessary to stop the three-week brain drain that is March Madness from infecting your office. Sixty-five percent of IT professionals say that their employers are actively searching for ways to reduce or prevent streaming of tournament games on office computers.

    As many of you may well know, your employers are often successful at this.

7. And God Help Your Employer if they Cannot

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    Even if your employer somehow manages to prevent streaming of NCAA Tournament games, they cannot shut down the Internet entirely. 86 percent of people surveyed say that they will follow the games online or check scores while at work. 

    Unless your boss starts confiscating smart phones and iPads at the door, I do not see this percentage dropping any time soon.

6. Mobile Technology is the Devil

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    It may not seem that way to your employer when they are constantly tracking you down through your Blackberry or iPhone during off hours, but when it come to following March Madness, mobile technology becomes their enemy.

    The mobile application formally known as March Madness on Demand reported a 47-percent increase in total users last year. This included nearly 27 million unique visitors, with almost 40 percent of them live streaming games.

5. Increase in Sick Days

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    A survey of human-resources professionals sites an 11-percent increase in sick days or tardiness during the NCAA Tournament. Now you know the real cause of that “flu” that seems to keep John out for a couple of days in mid-March every year.

4. $1 Billion in Wages Paid to Distracted Workers

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    That’s right folks, more than $1 billion in salary and wages will be paid to workers who’s attentions will be divided as they root for their alma mater during this year’s tournament. Heck, they might even be rooting against their favorite university if it will increase the odds of winning the office pool.

    If you feel like some of your employees or coworkers are overpaid, you might actually be right during this time of year.

3. Only 40% of Your Office Will Be Spared

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    People who could normally care less about college basketball suddenly get sucked in by the allure of winning office bragging rights during the NCAA Tournament. 

    According to an MSN survey, nearly 60 percent of all office workers will participate in at least one tournament pool. Don’t be surprised when your secretary starts soliciting you for advice on filling out her bracket.

2. Some People Might Be Willing to Stretch the Truth

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    Only around thirty-one percent of people polled stated that they would participate in more than one NCAA Tournament pool. That means that a whole lot of folks aren't telling the truth when they are polled.

At Some Point It Will All End...

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    At some point "One Shining Moment" will be playing, nets will be cut down and coaches and players will be celebrating.

    At that point, you will have your workers back...until next year.