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Wanna bet? March Madness and a dozen other office games of chance

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in HR Soapbox

As if Facebook weren't enough of a pull for daydreaming office workers, March Madness makes working hard even harder.

Starting at noon today, many of the NCAA basketball games take place during the workday. The annual hoops hysteria saps productivity as employees spend countless hours filling out tournament brackets, monitoring scores on the web and talking trash across cubicles.

The consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has estimated that lost productivity during the 19-day tournament can top $1 billion. And although NCAA tournament pools are on the knife's edge of legality, try finding an office without one.

But March Madness isn’t the only reason workers are signing up for office pools. Workers will bet on anything to break up the boredom of the workday.

Employees told online job-search site CareerBuilder.com that people in their workplaces had placed wagers on:

  • How long someone could keep binder clips attached to his body.
  • What time during the day a co-worker would fall asleep at her desk.
  • The number of words a manager would say in a meeting since he was very quiet. The winner was a co-worker who guessed 11 words.
  • The measurement in inches around a pregnant co-worker’s belly.
  • What a co-worker would use as his next excuse to call off work.
  • How many people would call in sick the day a new video game came out.
  • How late a co-worker was going to be to a meeting.
  • Who would be the next pope.
  • Who would win the National Spelling Bee.
  • Blood alcohol results on drunk patients.
  • How long two co-workers would date.
  • Who could grow the best mustache.
So who do you like to be standing at the end of the big dance? Not that I'm the betting type, but I'm putting my money on Kansas to cut down the nets. Rock, Chalk, get back to work!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Susan March 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I think people who have a little fun at work are happier, more productive workers and March Madness is a harmless, fun morale booster when even for people like me who don’t follow sports have a reason to route for ‘our’ teams in the pool. I agree with Diane Swanso: “Instead of people sitting solemnly around and not connecting, these kinds of things can help to connect people and create bonds around a focal point of interest.”

When I participate in an office pool, I find that, instead of being annoyed at all the people talking about it (at work, at home, in the media) and thinking “when will this ‘madness’ be over already!?”… I’m interested and engaged and suddenly share a common interest.


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