- Most senior managers (72%) in a new Robert Half survey said the annual college basketball championships — known as March Madness — raise worker morale. And more than half (52%) said the games bolster productivity.
- In key survey findings, 75% of employers said they organize activities around sporting events like March Madness, with friendly competitions and invitations to wear team apparel the most common. Companies in Des Moines, Iowa; Austin, Texas; Chicago; and Indianapolis were the biggest sports celebrators, while those in Boston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh were most likely to pass on celebrating. Men and younger professionals were distracted by games the most.
- Survey results also showed that managers in Des Moines, Indianapolis and Raleigh experienced the biggest morale boosts from college basketball playoff activities; Miami, Los Angeles and Detroit have the largest number of senior managers who said tournament festivities improve productivity. Nearly half of workers said they're distracted by sports at work, up from 38% who said so in 2016.
A 2018 survey by OfficeTeam, a Robert Half subsidiary, also found March Madness boosted employee morale. According to the survey, employees enjoyed the chance to bond with colleagues over the tournament — even just for a few minutes out of the workday — and returned to their jobs afterwards feeling rejuvenated.
The obvious downside to sports-related activities in the workplace is the high number of people — nearly half — that reported being distracted by the festivities. HR may need to consider how sporting events affect this segment of workers to mitigate distraction while capitalizing on morale boosting opportunities. HR also can make clear that workplace policies on office decorum still apply during March Madness, the Superbowl and any other major sporting events.
"Many companies recognize it's impractical to try to downplay the office buzz around major sporting events like March Madness," Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director of OfficeTeam, said in a press release announcing the latest findings. "Organizing activities tied to sports can provide welcome distractions that help lift workers' spirits and engagement. Employees just need to remember to play by the rules. Make sure completing assignments remains the top priority by staying within company guidelines and celebrating in moderation."