Owners of small and micro businesses know better than anyone that every hour of employee time can make a difference to the bottom line. So what do you do when a major distraction like March Madness threatens to siphon your team’s attention during work hours?
While your first instinct may be to panic and ban the tournament at work, analysts suggest that that strategy could backfire, given that 86 percent of respondents to a 2012 survey confessed they planned to devote some work time to the tournament.
Instead, use try using the tournament as an opportunity to rally your coworkers for increased productivity. Here are a few strategies.
- Reward your team with in-office game time. With 67 games to watch during March Madness, some of them will no doubt fall during your regular work hours. If your team is dying to watch certain matchups, set specific goals for them to meet and promise an in-office viewing of at least part of the game if those goals are met.
- Play to your strength: flexibility. As a small business, you have the advantage of being able to offer flexible work hours. If viewing games is a priority for one or more of your team members, offer a modified schedule that allows for watching key matchups.
- Start an office pool worth winning. Sure, you could start a standard cash pool, but why not up the ante to encourage bonding? Wager prime office real estate or coffee-making duties if your team thrives on competition, and enjoy the comradely, bond-boosting banter that ensues.
- Offer a quick way to check scores. Assuming at least some of your employees will spend work time checking in on at least some of the March Madness games, your best bet may be to minimize the time required to catch up on scores. Use your company Facebook page to host a score aggregator (the Washington Post offers one), and your team can catch up with on all the key information they need in one easy stop.
Skeptical that better bonding among your team could translate to actual growth? Don’t be: a growing body of evidence (including this study) shows that more involved employees pave the way to direct business gains, including higher productivity, lower turnover rates, and even higher customer loyalty rates.
Have plans for dealing with March Madness in your business? Share your tips below, and help other small-business owners maintain peak productivity during one of the season’s biggest distractions.