Setting boundaries for March Madness in the workplace

march madnessThe tournament is now set. Brackets are being completed. For fans of March Madness, the days ahead could be filled with nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat, basketball excitement.

For those who manage the office and workplace, it’s a good idea to think ahead and consider boundaries for employees.

Virginia Tech’s William Becker, an associate professor in the Department of Management at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, warns managers to be careful about taking too much of a hardline attitude when it comes to the tournament.

“I think the danger is pretty minimal. It really only is a big conflict the first Thursday and Friday when games are occurring during the day. I think the biggest danger is taking a draconian approach that sends a message that the organization and its leaders only care about profits and see employees as cogs,” said Becker, hose research interests include work emotion, turnover, organizational neuroscience, and leadership.

Becker suggests addressing the “elephant in the room” when it comes to expectations with the work week.

“If certain work or projects have to get done on that first week, make it clear why. Then incentivize it getting done early and well, with an office watch party,” said Becker, who is based at Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region campus in metro Washington, D.C.

Becker also suggests embracing the festive atmosphere around March Madness.

“I love the idea of being proactive and organizing a bracket with non-cash prizes and celebrating everyone’s school ties,” Becker said. “Especially leaders since it makes them more human and connected to employees. I think anything that makes employees identify more with the organization will pay huge dividends in the long run and far outweigh short term losses in productivity.”


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