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What does March Madness have to do with Employee Engagement?

March Madness: The three-week period during which die-hard and recreational college basketball fans alike come together to watch what has been informally dubbed the "most exciting tournament in college sports."

With 68 teams from across the country playing the single-elimination tournament, there's a reason for just about everyone to watch. In fact, last year CBS/Turner reported its best performance for the men's Sweet 16 in 28 years, with an average of 12.9 million viewers and nearly 17 million viewed the 2021 championship game. Every year, approximately 40 million Americans fill out a bracket with their predictions on which teams will reign supreme throughout the tournament, giving them even more incentive to tune in.

A number of games are played during normal work hours, and millions of employees participate in some sort of office pool—either officially sanctioned by the employer or off the books. So, it’s no surprise March Madness inevitably seeps into the workplace. And while not everyone will be streaming their favorite team's game during the workday, most will periodically check scores online or talk over the previous day's game highlights with their coworkers.

If you're an employer, you may be concerned about employees spending time away from work—watching or talking about the games. Bonnie Scherry, G&A Partners' director of Corporate HR, offers up a different perspective—one that encourages employers to embrace March Madness as an employee engagement tool.

“Throughout March Madness, employers have a chance to engage with employees in a fun way,” Scherry says. “And with so many companies shifting to remote and hybrid workplaces due to the pandemic, it provides managers with the ability to connect with their employees in a way that can have lasting benefits well beyond the championship game. For example, you may find out more about an employee’s ties to a specific geographic region, or who their favorite team is and why. It sparks conversation and camaraderie and can even provide an opportunity to discuss the importance of teamwork and working together toward a common goal.”

In addition to workplace bracket challenges, Scherry suggests additional ways to use the tournament to boost your organization.

  • Encourage employees to decorate their workspace, whether virtual or in person
  • Choose a day for employees to sport their favorite team’s gear or colors
  • For those in the office, create a Sweet 16 watch party complete with themed snacks
  • Keep the games on a common room T.V.
  • Create a virtual basketball trivia game
  • If you use a chat platform, create a designated space for Tournament Talk

“While on the surface, it may seem like these events will reduce productivity, the long-term benefit from boosted morale may be the only guaranteed win of the tournament,” Scherry said.

How G&A can Help

G&A Partners offers you access to a team of HR regulatory experts who can help ensure you remain in compliance with all federal and state regulations. For more information on how outsourcing your HR to G&A can help you reduce your risk and get time back to grow your business, schedule a consultation with one of our trusted business advisors.