For the sports fan, it’s one of the best times of the year – March Madness.
My school, Villanova, is one of the prominent teams in this year’s tournament, having earned a number 1 seed after winning the Big East championship. The campus is buzzing with excitement, and I am sure it will be pretty easy to find a place to study in the library on Thursday when Villanova plays Lafayette.
While I have not seen any reports on what happens to student productivity during the NCAA tournament, there have been studies on what happens to worker productivity, and it is startling.
The Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently issued a press release based in part on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which puts the effect of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament into stark relief. It found that employers could lose up to $1.9 billion in wages to the more than 60 million Americans who are in the office solely to watch games and devour bandwidth!
But instead of trying to stop such a loss of productivity, it is recommended that firms embrace the excitement that comes with March Madness. It may be a great opportunity to improve morale and to foster a sense of community. Free food and time away from work can do wonders for employees’ attitudes. And research has shown that happy employees are more productive employees.
Some firms may want to use March Madness as a time to invite customers, potential customers, and members of the local community to office parties where everyone can watch the game together, in a fun atmosphere. If any business is conducted at the time, that would be a bonus. Such parties are more about building long-term relationships.
So if workplaces can’t overcome the allure of March Madness, you can imagine what it is like on a college campus that has a team in the tournament. There will be a lot of missed classes, and even for those who attend class, there will be a lot of glances at smartphones.
So while I am quite excited about Villanova’s chances, I must admit I’m also relieved that I’m not teaching on Thursday. Accounting is no match for March Madness.