Five Ways to Improve Morale and Productivity During March Madness

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The NCAA tournament is just around the corner and offices are abuzz with friendly banter and cries of team loyalty. Along with plenty of excitement and newfound bragging rights among fellow colleagues, March Madness brings forth a torrid fear of lost productivity in the workplace.

Though accurate numbers are incredibly difficult to pinpoint in such instances, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, estimated in a 2008 press release that lost productivity during the tournament could cost businesses an estimated 1.7 billion every year. While these numbers are seen only as an estimate and in some opinions as a heavily aggrandized estimate, it would be foolish to think that there is not a significant impact on time and productivity for the duration of the tournament.

While an employer's first reaction may be to try and limit March Madness related activities in the workplace, there are definitely a few things to consider before taking any action against tournament involvement. First, denial of participation could be seen by employees as overbearing and in opposition to a fun work environment.

Employee morale is crucial for productivity, and would therefore seem counterintuitive for employers hoping to retain a high level of productivity to discourage participation in an activity considered somewhat of a sports holiday. Instead of discouraging involvement and risking a discontented office, consider using March Madness to your advantage. There are many different ways an employer or manager could use the NCAA tournament as a way to improve employee morale and create a stronger sense of camaraderie throughout the workplace:

1. Create an online, office-wide bracket.

Creating a bracket on a website such as ESPN.com or Yahoo! Sports would eliminate the need to create, hand out and fill in paper brackets. Encourage people to participate only if they would like, and if the employees would like to have a buy-in for competitive purposes, we suggest the money go towards a charity or non-profit organization of the winner's choice.

2. Offer small, fun and/or personalized prizes for top placers.

An already stated prize would not only encourage friendly competition and participation, it would also help to discourage against illegal gambling in the workplace. Some example of appropriate prizes may include gift certificates, a favorite team souvenir, or perhaps a meal on a supervisor's tab.

3. Offer flexible hours and dress code allowances when appropriate.

A possible solution to the distraction of an early evening game could be a flexible work week. Also, since Fridays are often considered a more causal day in the workplace, employees could be encouraged to wear a tie, jersey or even socks to show where their hopes and loyalties lay within the tournament.

4. Encourage watching the tournament as a group

Many workplaces allot for short breaks throughout the day. Encourage employees to gather to the TV in the break room (or at single designated computer as to not take up too much bandwidth) during those times. One could even promote a potluck lunch, catering or group gatherings after work to watch the game together.

5. Designate times to stay involved and keep the competition alive.

A bi-weekly e-mail or short announcement at the end of an informal meeting discussing up-to-date results would help to discourage employees from constantly tracking brackets while at work and would also help the manager or supervisor to stay involved.

While this list is not at all exhaustive, these are a few simple ways to take what is consistently seen as a drag on productivity and turn it into a way to promote a healthier and more enjoyable work environment. For more information or any questions, contact Staff One at 1-800-771-7823 or visit http://www.staffone.com.

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Founded in 1988, Staff One is a leading Human Resources Outsourcing firm with an ESAC accredited and bonded PEO service offering. Staff One operates as a full-service human resources department and delivers a comprehensive range of solutions that provides clients with a level of support and value previously only available at much larger companies. By aggregating the buying power of hundreds of firms, we provide premium benefits, risk management, compliance management, payroll outsourcing, tax administration and strategic HR services to our customers, so they can focus on growing their core business.

Alyshia M. Foster is a Client Service Executive for Staff One, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas.

Founded in 1988, Staff One is a leading Human Resources Outsourcing firm with an ESAC accredited and bonded PEO service offering. Staff One operates as a full-service human resources department and delivers a comprehensive range of solutions that provides our clients with a level of support and value previously only available at much larger companies. By aggregating the buying power of hundreds of firms, we provide premium benefits, risk management, compliance management, payroll outsourcing, tax administration and strategic HR services to our customers, so they can focus on growing their core business. http://www.staffone.com

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Five Ways to Improve Morale and Productivity During March Madness

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This article was published on 2010/04/15