Mar 31, 2008

March Madness: The Big Dance Costs Employers Big Dollars

March Madness -- the unofficial name for the NCAA basketball tournament that actually extends into April -- has descended on the American workplace. And apparently, lots of us (more than 37 million, in fact) have spent plenty of work hours completing our brackets for the office pool, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.

When the Challenger firm added up all the hours spent on office pools, researching teams (so we can win those pools), talking about the games with coworkers, and actually watching the games while at work, they estimated that American employers would experience $1.7 billion in lost productivity (.pdf) for the 2008 hoops tournament.

How can this happen? Of course, plenty of managers are also fans, right in there with the rest of us placing bets and checking scores. For those employees who work in less sports-friendly environments, CBS sports offers a "boss button," which employees can use to switch their screen from live action to a spreadsheet. There could be trouble if the boss actually stops to chat, however: The spreadsheet purports to log products consumed during sporting events in 2006, including pork rinds, pizza, beer, and cough syrup.

Lisa Guerin