Tell your boss: 52% of managers say March Madness boosts office productivity

The tip-off between the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

If your manager is getting on you for incessantly talking about your busted bracket, boasting about your college basketball team or discussing what happened in last night's games, you now have the perfect excuse.

Giving into March Madness at work can actually boost your productivity and morale, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half.

Almost three-fourths of managers say college basketball tournament activities lift their staff's morale, and 52 percent also see productivity benefits.

Maybe that's why 75 percent of employers don't fight the basketball fervor but rather embrace the national tournament by organizing sports-related festivities. The most popular are friendly competitions, offered by 45 percent of organizations. (The survey didn't specify if office winners earn just bragging rights or something greener, too.)

Companies also celebrated March Madness by allowing employees to wear their team apparel (43 percent of organizations do this), watch games in the office (29 percent), and decorate their workspaces (28 percent).

"Many companies recognize it's impractical to try to downplay the office buzz around major sporting events like March Madness," said Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director of OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half. "Organizing activities tied to sports can provide welcome distractions that help lift workers' spirits and engagement."

The positive effects of hosting such sporting activities at work isn't evenly shared across the country, the Robert Half survey found.

Managers in Des Moines, Iowa; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Raleigh, N.C., saw the biggest uplift in their staff's workplace attitudes, while leaders in Miami, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Detroit, Mich., reaped the most benefits from their employees increased productivity.

Of course, the college tournament comes with one major downside for managers: Almost half of workers admit they get distracted at work by sports, up from 38 percent in 2016. The most frequent offenders? Men and younger employees.

Almost 65 percent of male professionals say they get sidetracked by sports when they should be completing tasks vs. 33 percent of women. And even more millennial employees are guilty; 66 percent of workers ages 18 to 34 find that sports waylay them, while only 43 percent of Gen X staff and 27 percent of Baby Boomers say the same.

Don't Miss: The winner of Warren Buffett's March Madness office pool could get $1 million a year for life

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