Does March Madness really have an impact on workplace productivity?

Almost one-third of workers admit too watching event while at work: survey

Does March Madness really have an impact on workplace productivity?

March Madness is one of the most anticipated events in spring — but the basketball tournament can also be a big distraction within the workplace.

According to a survey by Paychex, 28% of employees have watched March Madness while they worked, with an average of two hours of viewing for every weekday. While about 26% of them admitted to being caught watching, 69% of them said they did not get reprimanded for doing so.

When it comes to work setups, the largest number of employees who have watched March Madness while engaged in their work were those in a hybrid work arrangement with 31% of employees admitting to this, found Paychex. Meanwhile, only 25% of those in a remote setup admitted to doing so while the number was 28% for those who worked solely in the office.

The top issues that HR professionals noted when it comes to employees watching March Madness are:

  • decreased productivity (22%)
  • misuse of company resources (21%)
  • inappropriate workplace behavior (16%)
  • gambling policy violations (13%)
  • difficulty managing time-off requests (11%).

A 2023 study said that the tournament could cost employers over $17 billion in lost productivity.

Workplace policies for March Madness

A majority of workplaces (30%) had no formal policies put in place regarding March Madness. However, they expect their employees to maintain their productivity, found Paychex. Meanwhile, 26% of workplaces only allowed employees to engage with March Madness during their breaks or lunch hours.

About 25% of HR professionals have suggested balancing work and event enjoyment for productivity in managing March Madness while 20% opted for the promotion of event-based team-building activities.

The Paychex study involved a survey of 851 employees and 151 HR professionals. About 30% of the employees were in a hybrid setting, while 36% worked in-office and 34% worked remotely.

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