Are You Ready for “March Madness?”

Are You Ready for “March Madness?”

Many of you are probably aware that March Madness is here! This year it runs from March 13 to April 2. For those college basketball aficionados, this is a favorite time of year to participate in office pools and fill in the “March Madness” brackets.  March Madness is one of the most watched championship sports series and many of the games typically take place during weekday business hours. This is a HUGE event at Kistler Tiffany Benefits. In fact, our own Tom Ingelsby, an Employee Benefits Consultant of more than 30 years, played for the Villanova Wildcats into the 1971 NCAA Championship game. Tom was one of the Big Five Hall of Famers from the 1971 team.

What does this means for employers? It depends. On the positive side, according to a 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll, 81% of employers surveyed did not have policies regulating office pools and a majority of HR professionals see office pools as ways to improve employee engagement and promote team building. Employers can consider setting up a television in the break room so that employees can watch the games during break or lunch times and bond with other employees.

Alternately, March Madness can mean a loss of productivity with employees chatting with others about the games and office pools, checking their smartphones or computers for score updates, game watching and game highlights.  Office pools can also be a cause for concern and an area of risk. They are considered to be a form of gambling. Although gambling laws are rarely enforced regarding bracket pools, employers who allow such pools should make them open to any employee who wishes to participate, not require a monetary buy-in, and award a non-monetary prize to minimize risk. If your company has a policy regarding gambling or the use of personal devices during work time, you may wish to take this opportunity to remind your staff about your policies. Also, alert managers to consider not participating in an office pool at work (so that they are role models for their staff) and to keep an eye out for any taunting, harassment or bullying to ensure a professional and respectful workplace is maintained.