Could March Madness boost your workplace productivity?

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The basketball frenzy known as March Madness is here, and a recent survey estimates nearly one third of American workers will spend up to three hours watching tournament coverage at work.

The same survey estimates American companies will lose $134 million because of distracted workers, but other business experts say not so fast.

"They're asking employees questions like, 'How much time do you spend watching the games on the computer or things of that nature,'" said Dr. Robert Ployhart, a professor of Business Administration at the University of South Carolina, "Of course everybody's doing that, but that doesn't mean that they're still not getting their work done."

Ployhart says it's important to look at the factors behind a survey. "Most of those studies make the assumption that all those employees are working 100 percent of the time prior to March Madness which is probably not true," he added.

He says if under control, March Madness action may a good thing for your workplace. "I think there's actually a positive to it, and that's getting people together and building a sense of community and organization," said Ployhart.

Ployhart says if the activity is organized by an office manager, you're less likely to see a drop in production. "It's then controllable because people are now accepting the fact that the company is sponsoring it, and so they'll be more likely to act in accordance with the company's rules and procedures."

He adds that companies are more likely to see drops in productivity from every day issues like workplace relationship conflicts, social media management and even the state of the economy.

"Really what companies need to pay attention to attention to is ensuring employees are doing the job as they've been hired to do, but also trying to create a supportive work environment which is going to enhance employees productivity and make them want to come to work," said Ployhart.

Ployhart says even if you think you are experiencing a productivity loss at your workplace during March Madness, in the long run it may be more beneficial than you think.

"Even if there is a short-term hit to their productivity, there's probably a long-term advantage in that it gets people talking to each other that they don't normally speak to," said Ployhart. "People in one department who don't usually interact with people in another department suddenly have a reason to be engaged in a friendly competition. Long after March Madness is over, they have a face associated with a name, they know people within the company and they have a better sense of the company's overall identity than they did before they made those relationships."

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