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Embracing 'March Madness' Is Better Than Ignoring It

March Madness surrounding the annual NCAA basketball tournament can wreak havoc with employees' concentration, but one business expert advises companies to just go with it.

“Employers are voicing concerns that the madness surrounding 'bracketology' will cause declines in productivity,” said Claire Simmers, professor of management at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. In a typical office betting pool for the college tournament, participants will guess the winners for every game in the 68-team bracket.

Simmers said that as long as they're handled correctly, office pools are useful for boosting morale. “I think office pools need to be recognized and managed beyond March Madness," she said.

"If management turns a blind eye and doesn’t utilize them as a team-building exercise, there could be problems,” Simmers added. “Employers should embrace the activity and say, ‘Okay, here is something fun to do, but we still expect the same level of productivity .'”

Although employers have some control over how workers spend time on office-issued computers, Simmers said that with the availability of cell phones and smartphones, workers are likely to check basketball sites anyway, making office pools virtually impossible to curb.

Legal or not, pools of all sorts exist in the workplace, Simmers told BusinessNewsDaily. So, it’s worth the effort to turn them into productive behaviors by emphasizing camaraderie within the context of the specific workplace.

Simmers adds that management should meet with its human resources team to create identical standards to cover all office pools.

“The issue of the pool itself is something that should be addressed in HR processes and applied equitably across all pools,” she said. “Procedures should be set in place, because these activities occur during every sports season.”

Employees should be able to remain productive while participating in the pools, Simmers said, but if productivity drops, workers are likely to be falling behind in other aspects of their work life, and intervention may be needed.