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Syracuse's head coach Jim Boeheim cuts down the net after their win against Virginia in an NCAA college basketball game in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Chicago. Syracuse won 68-62. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The studies about March Madness making workers less productive may be wrong. Here's why.

The studies about March Madness making workers less productive may be wrong. Here's why.

WATCH  |  Managers might want to encourage their workers to partake in March Madness, a new survey suggests.

It's basically a cliché at this point: Productivity dips across the nation in March because we're all too busy watching college basketball and obsessively fine-tuning our brackets.

That might be wrong, according to a study by HR firm Randstad. The study found that 89 percent of workers agree office pools help build camaraderie and improve morale. That, in turn, can make workers more productive in the long run.

Of course, it also found 76 percent of employees checked scores while they were working. 

Highlights from the study

  • 41 percent of those surveyed say they have participated in a bracket contest
  • 83 percent of those surveyed said they participated because they love sports, not because of the money
  • The average amount of money added to an office pool is $22.44
  • 53 percent of those who play in brackets are men, compared to 29 percent women
  • 84 percent of workers said pools make their jobs more enjoyable
  • 39 percent said they grew closer to coworkers after participating in a pool

That said, it's not all fun and games when it comes to basketball.
Nearly 24 million workers will fill out brackets in America this year, many of them plotting out their lineups while on the clock.

Plus, better technology means greater access to the dozens of games being live-streamed during work hours. So for companies, this year's NCAA tournament could cost them a whopping $2.1 billion, according to data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The potential short-term distraction in the office may actually be a win for employee morale, engagement and satisfaction in the long-term.
Jim Link, chief HR officer at Randstad

In short, office pools make employees happier (presumably, until their bracket is inevitably destroyed by some upstart Cinderella). And based on a 2015 study, there's concrete evidence that happy employees are more productive.

We can imagine it's a bit more stressful for Berkshire Hathaway employees. Billionaire CEO Warren Buffett promised $1 million a year for life to anyone whose bracket was perfect through the Sweet 16 and $1 million flat for a perfect first round. 

But the odds of getting a perfect first round by random guessing are 1 in 4,294,967,296 (2 to the 32nd power), according to USA Today. The odds of getting the whole bracket right are a staggering 1 in 128 billion.

Of course, not everything in March Madness is happy. That's why we have March Sadness.


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