Can you smell it? March Madness is in the air and we all know what that means: Folks fill out their brackets, watch games online and in the break room, chat about how they are doing and get less done. According to Gray & Christmas, a consulting firm specializing in workplace issues, about $1.7 billion is lost in productivity during March Madness. But figures like that assume people are busy little bees while at work, humming along, doing their job all day, consistently and persistently productive.
However, that's not really how it works at work, is it? You work, you surf the net, you work, you get some coffee, you work, you go out for lunch, you work, you take a break, you chat, you work, you go home. Right?
While March Madness may, theoretically, get in the way of productivity, all it really does is take the place of something else that employees would be doing instead of work. In any case, the good that March Madness does can easily outweigh the potential bad. For starters, the camaraderie that comes with bracketology is invaluable. The best workplaces are ones where employees get along, work together and strive for the common good of the enterprise.
March Madness fosters that.
People who might normally not talk find a reason to get to know each other. It gives people something to talk about other than work. It promotes teamwork and makes your office a more pleasant place to work.
People work for all sorts of reasons. We work for money, to socialize, to get ahead, for benefits, to learn skills, to be productive, for self-worth. Assuming that the only thing your staff is supposed to think and talk about is work misses the boat. Once you appreciate that work is about more than just work, you can begin to create an exceptional workplace. And know this too – once your staff knows you want them to be satisfied, fulfilled bees and not just busy little worker bees; they will bend over backwards for you.
It's ironic – the harder you push, the less you will probably get. It is sort of like trying too hard when you golf, you know that is when you do the worst, but as soon as you let go and trust, things flow easier.
Well, that is what March Madness is about.
Sure, it has somewhat to do with the greatest sport ever invented, but equally, it has to do with treating employees like adults, letting them have some fun, trusting them enough to know their work will still get done and promoting workplace unity.
Great small businesses value something bigger than the bottom line. They value values. That is why March Madness at work should not just be tolerated, but encouraged. It is about creating the kind of business everyone likes to go to every day ... or almost every day!
Someone should figure out a way to measure the value of having a happy workplace. If that ever happens we would see that whatever March Madness costs in productivity is made up, and then some, by increased goodwill and loyalty.
So the only thing left to say is ... Go UCLA!
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.