It’s March, and for an estimated 40 million Americans, that means filling out our best guesses as to who is going to win the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament. Actually it means guessing who is going to win each of the 63 games that are played in the tournament. If you count the 4 play-in games, which I do not, then you could move the total to 67. So I decided to risk $10 of my hard earned money and play in 2 pools. One with friends at the bank and another with my wife’s family.
I remember the old days back when I worked in Davenport, before the internet, when a co-worker used to gather up all the paper entries and track each one individually. It took a lot of time and effort and of course he used to do it on bank time because it was primarily bank employees who were playing. Actually we had 2 games, one totally random game where you blindly picked a team to win and another completing the bracket. On the blind pool, you always wanted to draw Illinois because there was a woman was such a huge fan she would buy your entry for way more than you paid for it. But I digress…
In 2018 the consulting firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the tournament will cost employers around the country $2.3 billion in lost employee productivity. That is A LOT of money! I know that my productivity suffered during the first two days of the tournament when quite a few of the games are played during the time I should be working. Instead I was watching the Loyola-Tennessee game on my computer at the bank, while working on a spreadsheet at the same time. When Loyola won the game on a last second shot, I was looking around to see who saw me cheering the win. Sure I had Loyola winning on my bracket, but I was more excited to see a Missouri Valley Conference team pull an upset.
Many employers see the value of the office pool in relation to the cost. As small business owners and managers, do you? Or do you simply see the cost in terms of lost productivity? The consulting firm I mentioned above does not recommend that you eliminate the bracket, instead use the tournament as a way to bring your team together. What is better than a friendly competition to create company comradery? Not much. But here are some things to avoid.
First of all, the entire amount of any money put into creating brackets has to be returned to the winners. No fair for anyone to keep anything for coordinating, especially in this day and age when online apps will do all the hard work. Secondly any gloating over those lucky enough to win or shaming those who didn’t do as well. The rest of us who didn’t win feel bad enough we lost some money. Finally you need to celebrate the process. Potentially coordinate a food day and let people cheer for their teams to win. Don’t get all caught up lost productivity, but do make sure the work that is essential does get done. No sense in losing customers and productivity.
So after two rounds, I am in a solid 18th place out of 27 entries in one pool, with little to no chance to get into the money. In the other pool I am lucky enough to be in first place. But with 15 games still to go, I am in no way counting my potential winnings. Of course I will be watching and cheering for my picks to win. I might even have a game on my computer while I work on another spread sheet.