Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Employers Advised to Embrace March Madness

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Employers Advised to Embrace March Madness

Article excerpt

March Madness is here. For millions of fans of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, it's the most wonderful time of the year, with apologies to Christmas. But for employers, it truly can be maddening trying to get staffers to concentrate on their work rather than their brackets.

Andrew Sassaman wants you to know it doesn't have to be that way. His message to employers is simple: Don't scorn March Madness. Celebrate it.

"Our recommendation is that as much as you can, embrace what's going on and try to put it in a positive light," said Mr. Sassaman, Pittsburgh branch manager of Robert Half, a staffing agency with 325 offices worldwide.

In his office, workers compete in a sales blitz dressed in their favorite college team's attire. On the first Friday of the tournament, there will be a potluck meal featuring favorite dishes or tailgating foods.

"We're trying to turn it into a positive thing as opposed to a distraction," he said.

He's not the only one going a bit crazy over the college basketball tournament. Twenty-three percent of more than 300 senior managers of U.S. firms with 20 or more employees surveyed by OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, reported their businesses had organized activities tied to sporting events.

Such events can produce dividends, according to the survey. Thirty-nine percent of the managers said they show that the company supports a healthy mix of work and play; 37 percent said the events foster togetherness among co-workers; and 25 percent said they provide a diversion from the daily grind.

For employees, mixing March Madness and the office is a slam-dunk no-brainer.

According to a separate OfficeTeam survey of more than 300 U.S. workers, 66 percent believe that celebrating major sporting events in the office can boost employee happiness.

One-third said they would like to celebrate such events by watching games with their colleagues. Another 24 percent would like to do so by wearing team apparel; 10 percent by participating in friendly competitions; and 6 percent by decorating work spaces.

There are ways to embrace the Big Dance without affecting productivity, Mr. …

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