manage productivityNo company wants to be known as a sweat shop, the same as no manager wants to be seen as a tyrant or overlord who runs their people into the ground. With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament approaching, the ability to manage productivity among employees will be challenged unlike any other time during the year.

Estimates say that companies experience approximately $6 billion in lost productivity due to office pools and live streaming games. Although companies are well aware of employees participating in non-work activities (office pools, holiday shopping, fantasy football), why don’t more of them block these websites? Why do they openly allow office pools?

Morale is an important factor in cultivating an inviting company culture. Even a less-than-ideal job becomes more tolerable when surrounded by a great culture and high morale. With that said, the company still needs to operate at a high level. Here are some ways to manage productivity and tournament fever while limiting individual distraction:

1. Televise the games – Showing the games in break rooms, cafeterias, or even around the office will reduce the need for staff to view on their computers, ultimately distracting them from work. The public screenings take away from the assumption of management disapproval and sneakiness and allows them to check in on the scores periodically. Simultaneously, it works as a self-check where employees will not want to be seen gazing at the screen all day.

2. Lunch Party – Games tip off between 12-12:30, which would be a great time to have a company or team lunch. If you have the space, provide some great food and watch the tourney during a lunchtime party (say 12-1:30). If not, hosting the team at a local sports bar/restaurant works as well. Great way for staff to socialize, enjoy the games, and get a recharge before getting back to work.

3. Company Office Pool – This will vary among organizations but an office pool with some type of non-monetary prize for the winner (lunch for a week, reserved parking, etc) would be a great way to engage and invoke excitement among your staff while limiting one-off office pools around the company.

Whether you like basketball or not, March Madness is one of the most anticipated sporting events for the year. The downside is that it has zero regard for the standard work day (I once took 2 consecutive 1/2 days of vacation to watch the tournament at home uninterrupted). However, utilizing these steps or at least acknowledging your staff’s interest will allow your company to manage productivity while also fostering a great sense of culture and engagement.

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