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Rethinking Productivity and Engagement During March Madness

Good news, sports fans – the annual NCAA March Madness tournament has kicked off in earnest, as the leading teams in College Basketball compete for the championship title. Across the country, offices have set up their own brackets and pools to build team cohesion around one of the biggest sporting events of the year. In fact, Warren Buffett has once again issued his famous challenge to Berkshire Hathaway employees: he’s offering $1 million a year for life if they correctly predict the “Sweet 16” teams in the tournament.

Historically, HR professionals have been split in their opinion on whether or not to encourage workplace-sponsored March Madness pools. On one hand, there is a concern over loss of productivity. On the other hand, it is consistently reported that March Madness is a significant driver of employee engagement and morale. It’s a conversation that arises like clockwork as the outside world bleeds into the office. Whether it is March Madness, the Olympics or the World Cup – how do you balance encouraging shared interest and building employee cohesion with the need to limit loss of productivity? The truth of the matter is, you don’t.

The concept that dedicating time to outside interests is bad for business reflects an increasingly obsolete understanding of the modern workplace. As the popularity of mobile grows, the traditional 9-5, desk-bound employee is becoming proportionally scarce. The modern workforce is flexible, they believe that work is something you do, not somewhere you go. As they take greater ownership of how they are productive, team-building events like March Madness should be encouraged. Employees don’t see it as a barrier to productivity, but rather an opportunity to find greater balance and build a community within their organizations.

Fostering Remote Unity

While interest in March Madness is limited to the United States, it shares many of the same team-bonding opportunities as global events like the recent Olympics games. As remote employee populations grow, some managers often struggle in creating that same sense of community and rapport among dispersed teams. Outside events like these are an incredible equalizer – regardless of location there is an opportunity to participate, compete, and grow as a unit.

The debate, much like the direction of modern workplace collaboration, comes down to balance. March Madness does not come in place of work – it is supplementary to the workplace experience. By taking advantage of it to support a diverse and dispersed workforce, businesses stand to not only jumpstart employee engagement, but demonstrate trust in their staff.

Learn more about how to support a flexible, dispersed workforce here.

Amanda Maksymiw

Amanda Maksymiw

Amanda is responsible for setting and managing the Fuze content marketing strategy including creating, producing and publishing engaging content. Throughout her career, she's worked with fast-growing tech companies and VCs on developing content marketing, influencer marketing and social media strategies. Amanda received her BBA in Marketing from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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