Reeling in March Madness

Take a Break During the Day to Increase Productivity in Fresno

Approximately 50 million Americans contribute to March Madness pools at work. This level of participation is estimated to cost employers more than $1.9 billion in lost productivity.

It may be tempting to bar all March Madness-related activities in your workplace, but … bah humbug! Experts agree this will not only hurt your reputation as a good boss, but also prove to be counterproductive in the long run – as workers spend time trying to circumvent your ruling.

Embrace the Concept of Knowledge Work

First coined by management guru and author Peter Drucker, knowledge work has its own set of productivity requirements. One is that employees must be given autonomy to get their jobs done. Another is that quality of work is just as important as quantity, if not more so. Quashing or banning employees’ indulgence in a reasonable amount of March Madness interest sends the message that work is no place to have any fun, which equates to no way to make people productive.

  • You should already have internet usage rules. If not, now is a good time to create your policy.

    Make it reasonable, so people are not paying too much attention during the course of the workday. Of course, in certain jobs such as operating heavy machinery, such distractions must be taboo, for safety as well as productivity reasons.


  • Allow for the distraction and hype.

    Recognizing the personal interests of your employees is an important sign of genuine care for their well-being. Encourage people to take breaks to watch the game for a little while, or go out to lunch and enjoy an update at a local restaurant. Maybe you can sponsor a productivity-related competition where winning employees get gift cards for this purpose. Or, throw a potluck lunch in the break room. Have the game on a big screen and ask people to wear their favorite team jerseys or colors. Use March Madness as an opportunity to boost engagement, morale and loyalty. In one study, 71 percent of people said such breaks during the workday helped them achieve higher levels of productivity.


  • Consider creating a non-betting workplace competition.

    Betting pools in California are an infraction, with a maximum fine of $250. The pool is not an infraction as long as it is not operated for profit, unless the same stakes are not available to all participants. The stake limit is $2,500 and pools cannot be conducted online.


  • Remember, not everyone is a sports nut.

    Be mindful of those who are not swept up into the madness. Plan alternative recognitions for them.


  • Lead by example.

  • If your company policy limits non-business cell phone or internet usage, then don’t get caught in the “Do as I say, not as I do” trap. Your credibility will be shot – and it can lead to a domino effect that impairs morale and productivity, as well.


A short-term tradeoff in the interest of long-term success often makes sense. Your goal is to make people happier at work. Employees who are more satisfied tend to be more productive and less likely to burn out.

Need more ideas for building and maintaining top levels of engagement, morale and productivity on a year-round basis? Read our related posts or contact the PrideStaff Fresno team today.

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