Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness and Worker Productivity

It's that time of year . . . and here in the Hoosier state it may be even more pronounced than elsewhere (especially this year when the home town team actually gets to play). March Madness. Worker productivity grinds to a halt today and tomorrow as nearly everyone gets caught up in following his or her favorite team and tracking his or her successes and failures in the office pool.

Today's USA Today reports on the productivity losses associated with March Madness.

Some excerpts:

Employers will lose $237 million in wages for every 13.5 minutes workers spend on the Internet tracking games, according to an estimate by outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas . . . .

A big new draw: CBS Sports is offering online viewing live, except for locally televised games. For about 12 hours on Thursday and Friday, as many as 200,000 people will be able to simultaneously view games. In all, millions may watch . . . .

Given the expected crush to view CBS' service — and other tournament-related websites — some corporate computer networks might be taxed, says Mike Hronek, a networking engineer at information technology firm CDW. "If a company is not set up to handle excessive traffic, it could certainly slow network performance," he says. "The company could block access to certain websites, but their employees might head to other sites" . . . .

An estimated $4 billion to $5 billion will be wagered on the 63-game tournament this year — about a third on the Internet, says gaming consultant Michael Tew.


Blogger Scott Freedman said...

Those are some interesting statistics. There is definitely no single way to prevent employees from accessing tournament information. However, as it states in the article, blocking primary sports news websites is a good start. I remember in high school my school would block additional sports websites come March. While it stifled our ability to check scores, we got around it by checking regular news websites and, in nicer teachers' classes, TV.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Aldo Huitzil said...

So it is not only a game, it is a a money game! $237 million in wages! It would seem that shocking statistics like these would prompt employers to try everything possible to monitor their employees during the workday. "March Madness" has been occurring for a while and I would think that employers would adjust their efforts during this time. I mean it is like the "Little 500" in Bloomington, more policemen are called into Bloomington to handle the crowds. So, what do the employers do, if anything, to counter this problem? If I was a shareholder, $237 million per 13.5 minutes, I would expect them to do something fast!

11:53 AM  
Blogger Matthew Crawford said...

Coming from an employer who doesn't want to see my wages stolen from me, there have to be a number of ways to tell an employee to not spend Thursday afternoon watching Gonzaga lose to UCLA on If you get caught once, you get written up. If you get caught twice, your punishment gets escalated. But on the other hand, would you be willing to fire a top employee because they are interested in watching their time possibly play the last game of the year? On the bigger scale, imagine THAT loss of productivity.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Corey Meridew said...

Does this loss in productivity really mean a loss for the company? It may not.

I know this post is a stretch but bear with me. I have two reasons.

The first is simple; if every company is dealing with this same problem does this loss in productivity truly put a company at a disadvantage? (I guess if you want to technical larger companies have more workers and would incur greater losses but at the same time have greater revenues.)

My second reason is a stretch but that is why I like it. Although companies in fact due lose an enormous amount of money it is a necessary evil. Sports and current event knowledge are part of the business world. Could being knowledgeable about a March Madness game help a salesperson close a deal? Could a game be the icebreaker to get the door open in a negotiation between executives? So much of business is the ability to communicate effectively. Sometimes these communications are between people who have very little in common and March Madness is a common thread between many Americans so could it possibly help businesses in ways outside of efficiency?

Okay I take back the “it may not,” at the beginning of my post that was just to get you to read on. I do not claim that these two reasons come close to making up for the losses companies incur but they might limit the loss to an extent.

9:14 PM  
Blogger John Kluka said...

March Madness is part of our culture and to strictly watch over your employees during this time is ridiculous. I have no problem with some lost revenue in wages about this, and I don’t think that the lost revenue in wages statistics is that accurate. Sure we spend time filling out brackets, but that is the kind of stuff that helps build a good company culture. I just think watching over your employees too much will hurt your company in the long run.

7:39 PM  

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