It’s that time of year again, when even the most casual of sports fans’ thoughts turn to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. In offices all over the U.S., employees will be filling out their brackets in hopes of choosing the ultimate winner, and maybe winning some of their coworkers’ hard-earned cash.
While this obsession with college basketball may seem like a distraction from work, nearly one in four companies actually encourage their employees to celebrate the annual college basketball tournament, according to a recent survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam. Of senior managers surveyed, 23% said their employer organizes activities tied to sporting events like March Madness. Among those whose firms do get into the games, the top benefit is showing the company supports a healthy blend of work and play (39%), followed by building camaraderie among colleagues (37%).
“Many companies are capitalizing on major sporting and cultural events to bring teams together and have more fun at work,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Embracing the basketball tournament by holding friendly competitions or watching games as a group can boost morale and engagement. Just remember to set guidelines so business priorities are still met.”
Don’t Be That Guy
Even employees whose companies don’t actively encourage involvement in March Madness can enjoy the tournament: More than half of employees (53 percent) reported celebrating sports events with office buddies. Not all coworkers are welcome, however: Being a poor sport or overly competitive was identified as the most distracting or annoying sports-related behavior (30%), with too much time talking about sports coming in second (26%).
Here are the four types of coworkers you might encounter during the college basketball playoffs and tips for dealing with them, according to OfficeTeam:
- The Rookie doesn’t follow the playbook regarding employee breaks and internet use during the tournament. On game day, this person arrives with a jersey, face paint, and giant foam finger. Advice: Encourage him or her to read up on company policies to find out what activities are acceptable.
- The Commentator spends more time talking sports than completing assignments. Advice: Take quick breaks to chat about tournament highlights with this colleague, if allowed, but don’t let your work suffer. If you’re the boss and he or she wants to take time off to enjoy the playoffs, mention it’d be helpful to know as far in advance as possible so you can reassign projects or bring in temporary professionals.
- The Poor Sport takes competition too far, throwing jabs at anyone who doesn’t root for his or her favorite college. Advice: Remind this coworker it’s just a game. Don’t let friendly banter get out of hand, regardless of team allegiances.
- The Benchwarmer doesn’t know a thing about “The Big Dance” or “bracket busters.” This spoilsport passes on all the hoopla. Advice: If colleagues are celebrating by watching games together or having an informal contest, invite this person to join. Make it easy for non-sports fans to participate and have fun.