NCAA tourney will cost you money

If Tennessee’s mens team does well in the NCAA basketball tournament it could cost your company money — lots of it.

March Madness will cost U.S. employers an estimated $1.8 billion in lost worker productivity in the first week of the tourney, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based global outplacement consulting firm.

“For the nation’s employers, the men’s college basketball tournament, better known as March Madness, marks the arrival of several other annual rituals: employee-organized office pools, a potential dip in productivity and a marked decline in Internet speed, as workers soak up bandwidth watching live streaming broadcasts of the tournament games during office hours,” according to the firm’s press release.

Based on what happens around the News Sentinel, especially when the Vols are playing, Challenger, Gray could be underestimating the cost.

How much will it cost your company? Will you be watching the games? I will.

Challenger, Gray’s cost estimate is based on employees spending 20 minutes of daily work-time watching games or other tourney-related activities.

March Madness and the subsequent office pools have been going on long enough, that employers can no longer claim to be caught off guard by the annual event. Some have tried to squash these pools, most simply ignore them and others have found ways to embrace the tournament as a team-building and morale-boosting opportunity,” John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a press release.

Given today’s economic client and worker anxiety about their jobs, the tournament is a good stress reliever, Challenger, Gray says.

“In the end, employers may or may not see a significant impact. Even if they do, few are compelled to go out of their way to ban March Madness related activities. Especially in this economy, when many employees are already anxious about their jobs, there is no reason for employers to make a big deal about what amounts to a blip on the productivity radar,” said Challenger.

Now that’s sound advice.  

Put high-def TVs and big comfy chairs all over the office. Lay out trays of hotwings and buckets of popcorn. College basketball. There is nothing better, especially when North Carolina is stumbling.

Read more about how Challenger, Gray calculates the financial impact of March Madness here.