March Madness to cost employers $17B in lost productivity

The upcoming March Madness basketball tournament will cost employers $17.3 billion in lost productivity, according to a recent estimate from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

Many workplaces use the tournament to energize workers and build morale, the firm wrote in a  news release shared with Becker's. Teams might build brackets among each other and watch the games together. 

Forty-eight percent of workers work on their brackets at work, according to a 2018 survey from QuickBooks. On average, they spend 25.5 minutes per workday on March Madness activities, per a 2019 survey from OfficeTeam. 

Challenger, Gray & Christmas multiplied these figures by the average hourly wage — $33.09 — and the 16 workdays between selection day and the championship game. They concluded that workers would spend 408 minutes on March Madness related activities, costing employers $17,314,913,414.40. 

This year's $17.3 billion estimate is $1 billion higher than last year's because of rising wages and employment rates. In March of 2022, 2.7 million fewer Americans were employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

However, with layoffs on the rise, March Madness remains a welcome distraction for affected organizations. Challenger, Gray & Christmas recommends offering prizes for top brackets, coordinating watch parties, and encouraging workers to wear team gear to help boost spirits. 

"Creating events around March Madness, whether watching games or filling out brackets together with incentives for the winner, makes the workplace more exciting, for both in-person and remote teams," said Andrew Challenger, the firm's senior vice president. 

March Madness kicked off on March 12 with Selection Sunday and ends with the championship game April 3. 

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