One of the things that I miss about not being in an office setting is the camaraderie and things to do in order to make time pass by. One of my favorite ways to do that each year was by partaking in friendly March Madness tournaments and filling out my brackets. I’ve written before about how I love football at both the pro and collegiate levels, but following March Madness comes in a close second. To give you a little background, I grew up in ACC country where college basketball was everywhere and most teams were either good or average at worst. The NCAA Tournament games begin on a Tuesday (next Tuesday to be exact) and start out with games going late into the night and end up with One Shining Moment on a Monday evening early in April. Add to that the growth of some Cinderella teams the last few years and it can be easy to get caught up in the hoopla (pun intended). However, March Madness can be a major headache for employers as people call in sick or watch the games on their computer which impacts productivity. I think it’s the smart employers though that see this and try to use it to help improve employee morale while at the same time allowing employees to enjoy something they might like.
March Madness is About Following the Games
Many companies hate March Madness time as it never fails that employees are trying to watch the games on their computers or constantly checking their phones for the scores. I understand the frustration on many employers’ parts. In light of this, why not meet the employees in the middle and have the games on in lunchrooms, or if there are TVs in the common work area have the games on there? While it may mean you do not get to watch the game as a whole it, it does allow you to follow it casually while at the same time not slowing down the computer network. If you work somewhere that does not do that, simply ask if it’s an option. Don’t be the bad guy though and call in “sick” because you don’t want to miss the game, many employers are just too smart for that.
Fill Out Some Brackets
Half of the fun of March Madness is filling out a bracket. Whether you research it and have certain teams you think will make it to the Final Four, or simply guess it can be fun for many. This can be done in simple paper fashion, or you can use of a number of websites that offer doing this for free like Yahoo. Yahoo allows you set up teams of people that you can compete with or just enter a competition on your own against others with no money on the line. I have also seen this taken one step further by having teams of people go against each other with the winning team getting something like a free lunch at the end of March Madness or by giving them a free hour of vacation for each individual on the team. I will give a disclaimer though that I am not necessarily endorsing gambling on March Madness, nor betting on sports. The numbers, from 2011, show that $12 billion was wagered on the NCAA tournament and only $100 million of that was done through legal means. That is just a crazy stupid number.
Have a Potluck
What sporting event does not go with a potluck? This still holds true with March Madness. Just because it’s a potluck does not mean that is has to be junk food, as you’re likely sitting at a desk. I have seen veggie trays as well as fruit trays hold their own as desirable finger foods at times like this because they can be consumed quickly. I’ve also seen creative snack ideas revolving around teams in the NCAA tournament that always go over well. The point is to have fun with it and be a little creative.
Pick A Team
This final one is a bit like the filling out the brackets section. It gives you a little skin in the game without gambling on March Madness. How this works is that you have each interested employee choose a team, from a hat, that they’ll support and they all put in a certain dollar amount. It can be up to you, but I have seen anywhere from $1-$5 per person. The person who picked the winner will get to win the pot at the end of the NCAA tournament. This allows for some fun, while also some competition to see who might end up with the loot. Just make sure that your employer is fine with such an arrangement before pursuing this option.
Will you be following the NCAA tournament this year, and if so who will you be pulling for? What does your employer do to allow you to enjoy March Madness somewhat?
Photo courtesy of: Rbourque2