Across the U.S., workers may be focusing more on sports brackets than spread sheets as Americans fixate on the popular NCAA tournament known as March Madness.
But that's just the distraction of the moment. Add March Madness to a list that includes texting friends or relatives, poring over Facebook posts and tiptoeing off to take personal phone calls, all among the top time-wasters at work, according to a new survey by Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a subsidiary of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
In the poll of more than 400 managers and human resources specialists, March Madness ranked third among tech-related office distractions, behind texting and Facebook, as the top time waster. Some 30% of those surveyed said it was a "major'' diversion
Even when staffers are doing a work-related task on their computers "it's way too easy to open up another tab to your Facebook page, or to eBay, or to ESPN" to follow the latest game, says Ed Yost, human resources business partner, employee and management relations for the Society for Human Resource Management.
But right now, the nation is in the midst of March Madness. And every minute spent rooting for a team, tweaking a bracket, or trash talking a colleague is money drained from employers. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.predicts employers could collectively lose $2.1 billion for each hour of productivity squandered because American workers are transfixed by the basketball contest.
It's not just die-hard sports fans who are obsessed. "People who've never watched a single college basketball game during the season get ecstatic about March Madness because it's . . . .such a huge cultural event,'' says Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
With the American Gaming Association projecting that sports fans will wager $10.4 billion on this year's tournament -- a 13% leap over the $9.2 billion estimated to have been bet in 2016 -- excitement over March Madness may even slow the workflow of staffers who could care less about the competition.
"People are actually streaming those games live from their desk tops, laptops and smart phones, watching it every way possible, and dragging down Internet productivity for everyone else in the office,'' Challenger says.