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Using March Madness as an Employee Engagement Tool

The annual March Madness tournament begins March 17, 2020. It is no secret that productivity in all offices suffer as a result of employees streaming games and talking about their brackets. It seems like good business practice to ban all this distraction, but what if this could be used as a team building activity to build engagement among your employees? Setting up a television in your break room or common area to allow employees to watch the games during lunch or breaks allows employees to relax and interact with co-workers they may not get to see as much as they would like. Don’t have an office television? Set up a laptop computer with a projector and stream the games. While it’s not necessary to have this going for several weeks, having the option to view games for the first couple of days and maybe the final days of the tournament would certainly be appreciated by your employees.

Allowing employees, a day or two, to participate in some fun does not mean they have the right to abuse these privileges. It is a best practice to remind employees of your company’s meal and rest break policies and that they are expected to follow these rules as they normally would. We also do not encourage starting or engaging in brackets for money as gambling at work is never a best practice. If the company feels strongly about creating brackets in the office, consider prizes of company “swag” such as coffee mugs, hats, sweatshirts, etc.

While TV at work can’t be an everyday occurrence, there are other ways to tap into an employee’s excitement. Having days during the tournament when employees can wear their favorite jersey or team shirt is always fun. If possible, allowing employees to wear jeans more frequently to celebrate the tournament would also be well-received by employees.

Since the tournament starts on March 17, it’s a great opportunity to couple March Madness with a St. Patrick’s themed food day! Since not everyone is a basketball fan, combining the two events will encourage more participation. For example, I once hosted a St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Charms breakfast with my former employer. It was very inexpensive and very well received by my co-workers. Remember, building engagement in the workplace does not have to break the bank.

Virtual Helpline clients may call or email the Helpline for resources surrounding employee engagement and culture shaping. HR Works’ HR Academy training series includes a training on “Solving the Employee Engagement Puzzle” taking place on Wednesday, April 22nd from 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Please see our training events link to register today!

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HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.