March Madness could cost employers $1.9B - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

March Madness could cost employers $1.9B

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)
(KFVS) -

Office pools and constant streaming are well-known March Madness traditions.

However, the popular feature is causing more of a distraction than you might think.

Unproductivity because of the NCAA tournament could cost employers $1.9 billion in wages, according to calculations by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Challenger’s estimate is based on the number of working Americans who are likely to be caught up in March Madness; the estimated time spent filling out brackets and streaming games; and average hourly earnings, which, in January, stood at $24.78, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Challenger said that number depends on just how the tournament continues. With Kentucky and Michigan State out, there is a chance that number will be slightly lower.

Either way, lots are still expected to tune in. In 2014 alone there were 102 million unique viewers. On top of that, 60 million people filled out a bracket.

The question: should employers ban workplace pools and block access to streaming sites?

Challenger says no.

“This tournament and the betting and bracket-building that come with it are ingrained in the national fabric. Trying to stop it would be like trying to stop a freight train. When even the president finds time to fill out a bracket, an employer would be hard pressed to come up with a legitimate reason to clamp down on March Madness activities,

Challenger says an attempt to stop March Madness participation would likely result in long-term damage to employee morale, loyalty and engagement, something that would likely out weigh any short term benefit to productivity.

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