As the March Madness frenzy gets under way — especially at the office — a new report finds that the annual NCAA basketball tournament can actually improve workplace morale.
According to a study by the staffing and recruiting company Randstad US, 89 percent of American employees agreed that office pools help increase team camaraderie, engagement and work satisfaction.
Study participants also said they became closer after taking part in office pools or watching games together after work, especially among Gen X and Z employees.
More than 50 million workers this year will use company time to research and fill out their brackets and follow their most valuable teams in the Big Dance, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. All that time adds up to $1.3 billion per hour in lost wages and productivity. In the NCAA tournaments first week alone, the firm estimates $3.9 billion will be lost to unproductive workers.
Productivity aside, some workers are actually encouraged to engage in tournament play at the office. Take Warren Buffett’s more than 367,000 employees of Berkshire Hathaway, which is made up of nearly 90 companies. This year, like every year since 2014, Buffett — who is worth more than $74 billion — is offering $1 million a year for life to any employee who correctly picks the Sweet 16 teams, according to CNBC. If no one accurately predicts the Sweet 16 teams, the employee who gets the furthest in their bracket will receive $100,000. To date, no one has successfully won the grand prize.
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“Given the heightened competition for talent and the need for organizations to improve employee engagement and collaboration, our study indicates the significance of socially connecting with peers to foster deeper connections and boost employee morale,” said Jim Link, chief human resource officer at Randstad North America.
The average worker pays about $22.50 to participate in an office pool, the Randstad study found.