Can March Madness be good for the office?

It’s the time of year many employers dread — March Madness. Productivity often drops significantly when college basketball games are played one after another.

It’s estimated corporations lose billions due to unproductive workers during the span of the NCAA tournament.

Why are people so interested to cheat company time to watch tournament games?

Former Virginia Commonwealth University professor Steve Karau, who is a professor at Southern Illinois University, tells WTOP it’s due in part to the “Cinderella effect,” or the chance of a university making a surprise run in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.

“If you are the fan of a small school in a minor conference, they can get big time notoriety just by winning one or two games,” Karau said, adding that paying attention to the games can also be a fun, bonding activity that makes the workplace more enjoyable and builds morale.

He says employers that are worried about productivity should just be upfront about what they expect.

“‘Hey, folks! I know March Madness is coming up and I know you’re going to be interested.’ And let them know, based on your environment what you think is appropriate,” he said.

Sixty-eighth million American adults plan to put $15.5 billion into this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). And many of those bets are wagered in the workplace.

“[The] fear of missing out draws people in to check on things. They’re afraid they are not going to know what’s going on,” he said.

Get your pool ready: D.C.-area fans can watch the Virginia men’s team take on Furman and Maryland take on West Virginia on Thursday. The Maryland women’s team will face Holy Cross and Virginia Tech will host Chattanooga on Friday.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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