Should NCAA Tournament Brackets Drive Employers Mad?

Monday, March 7, 2011

As NCAA basketball fans begin to research ESPN for information that could prove useful for their brackets – many on company time – employers are voicing concerns that the madness surrounding bracketology will cause declines in productivity. But Claire Simmers Ph.D., chair and professor of management at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, believes that if handled correctly, office pools are useful for boosting morale, as long as productivity is balanced.

“I think office pools need to be recognized and managed beyond March Madness. If management turns a blind eye, and doesn’t utilize them as a team-building exercise, there could be problems,” says Simmers. “Employers should embrace the activity, and say ‘O.k., here is something fun to do, but we still expect the same level of productivity.'”

Although employers have some control over how workers spend time on office-issued computers, Simmers says that with the availability of cell phones and smart-phones, workers are likely to check basketball sites anyway, making office pools virtually impossible to curb.

Simmers adds that management should meet with their human resources team to create identical standards to cover all office pools.

“The issue of the pool itself is something that should be addressed in HR processes and applied equitably across all pools,” says Simmers. “Procedures should be set in place because these activities occur during every sports season.”

Simmers also notes that employees should be able to remain productive and still participate in the pools. If productivity drops, Simmers says that workers are likely to be falling behind in other aspects of their work life, and an intervention may be needed.

Media Contact

Simmers can be reached for comment at 610-660-1106,, or by calling the Office of University Communications at 610-660-1222.

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