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Things to consider in a March Madness policy

March 20, 2013

March is here and it can only mean one thing:  the NCAA Basketball Tournaments.

This Thursday, March 21st is the first full day of the men’s tournament and this Saturday, March 23rd the women’s.  With 16 men’s games being played Thursday and another 16 Friday, there is the ever-so-small possibility that an employee or two of yours can be slightly distracted from the job. Does it make sense for your organization to implement a March Madness policy?

Let it be known that if you decide to implement such a policy, you very well can be shunned by your co-workers for eternity if you don’t do it right.  Envision no more friendly chats with your colleagues at the water cooler, maybe even no more eye contact with them. Ever again.

Now that we’ve established how important this week is, on to three things your organization must consider in implementing a March Madness Policy.

  • Bandwidth – Your Internet can only handle so many information packets moving back and forth. With every game available to be streamed online, your Internet may become backed up and extremely slow. Imagine trying to funnel the water from the Hoover Dam through a water hose, and you get the picture.
  • Productivity Loss – With 32 games in a two-day period on Thursday and Friday, you can expect that people’s attention may be focused elsewhere—from preparing brackets and debating picks, to keeping up-to-date with the latest scores, to moaning about why their picks should have won or gloating about the lack of red on their brackets.
  • Legal Issues – Office pools with money on the line may violate state or local gambling laws.  While Michigan law does deem such gambling as illegal, historically the laws in Michigan have gone unenforced against March Madness pools provided the stakes are within reason. It may make sense to oversee any pools in your workplace to mitigate the possibility of any legal issues.

With these three major areas to consider when implementing a March Madness policy, it is also wise to accept the fact that March Madness is simply a fun time of year.  You probably have the choice to rule like a dictator or turn a blind eye; somewhere in the middle is probably where you want to be.

The goal, as with most policies, is to be able to appropriately deal with the “abusers” while not punishing the average worker.

Whether you like it or not, employees are going to peek a look at scores here and there as well as discuss the tournament with co-workers.  That is not at all bad, especially since you are not going to be able to stop it.

In most organizations, and probably yours, the side effects are positive: morale will go up, and the office will feel a bit friendlier than usual this week. Carpe diem!

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