Half of managers say NCAA Tournament activities improve morale

March Madness and the office may make a winning team, a new OfficeTeam survey suggests. Half (50%) of senior managers interviewed said activities tied to the college basketball playoffs boost employee morale, and more than one-third (36%) felt March Madness has a positive impact on workplace productivity. These results are up from 32% and 27%, respectively, in a similar survey conducted one year ago.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States.

Managers were asked, "Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace, such as watching games or participating in pools that don't involve money, have a positive or negative impact on employee morale?" Their responses:

Very positive: 9%

Somewhat positive: 41%

No impact: 43%

Somewhat negative: 5%

Very negative: 1%

Managers also were asked, "Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace have a positive or negative impact on employee productivity?" Their responses:

Very positive: 6%

Somewhat positive: 30%

No impact: 49%

Somewhat negative: 13%

Very negative: 2%

View an infographic of the research results.

"Employers that encourage staff to enjoy events like March Madness recognize that these activities don't have to be viewed as negative workplace distractions," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Organizing friendly contests or watching big games together can give employees much-needed breaks and opportunities to build camaraderie."

OfficeTeam identifies five mistakes workers should avoid when celebrating March Madness:

  1. Going against the playbook. Before participating in any tournament-related activities, find out your company's policies on employee breaks, accessing the Internet for non-business purposes, and decorating workspaces.
  2. Taking too many time-outs. If your employer is OK with it, take occasional breaks to check scores or talk hoops with colleagues, but make sure to keep up with your assignments.
  3. Failing to have a game plan. If you want to take time off to watch the playoffs, let your boss know as far in advance as possible so he or she can manage workloads.
  4. Being a poor sport. It's fine to root for your favorite school, but don't get overly competitive in the office.
  5. Not being a team player. Even if you aren't a sports fan, try to join in on celebratory activities to bond with coworkers.

Learn what state law says about workplace betting pools.