Does March Madness Lower Productivity?

March 19, 2011

So? How far did you take Illinois in the pool?

Half of you have no idea what I’m talking about. The other half, I can only assume, either answered ‘losing to UNLV’ or ‘falling to Kansas.’

Of course I’m referring to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, a.k.a. March Madness.

It is estimated that one in five workers enter office pools, approximately 20 percent of every workforce.

The global outplacement consultancy, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., estimates that workers will watch about 8.4 million hours of NCAA action during work hours via smart phones, tablets and computers this year.

Multiply that by the average hourly wage of $22.87 among private-sector workers and the financial impact surpasses $192 million.

According to CEO John A. Challenger, that’s no big deal.

“At first glance, 8.4 million hours of lost productivity seems like it would deliver a crushing blow to the economy,” he said.

“Over the three weeks of the tournament, the nation’s 108 million workers will have logged more than 11 billion hours of work. The 8.4 million hours lost to March Madness is a relative drop in the bucket, accounting for less than one-tenth of one percent (about 0.07 percent) of the total hours American workers will put in over the three weeks of the tournament.”

Challenger compares March Madness to a traffic accident, which doesn’t have a major impact on the overall economy, but if you are stuck in the resulting congestion and are late for work, that accident has now had an impact on your day’s productivity.

“Basically, there is no measurable impact on the economy or even an individual company’s bottom line. However, if you ask department managers or IT staff whether March Madness has a noticeable effect on productivity, they are likely to answer in the affirmative,” said Challenger.

“For an office with 50 to 100 workers, five or 10 people streaming basketball games will definitely have an impact on everyone else’s Internet speed.”

According to a 2010 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, about 33 percent of companies prohibit workplace gambling.

I’m pretty sure my boss is okay with it, since he’s in a pool too.

I’ve got Kansas going all the way, by the way.

My boss, who else? Illinois.

Categories: Economy

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