March Madness is a fun time for employee engagement

March Madness is back! For the next few weeks, both diehard and occasional fans will dive into college basketball. Instead of being irritated by the distraction of employees filling out brackets and chatting about buzzer-beaters, take this opportunity for some exciting employee engagement. Here are some considerations for turning March Madness into a team-building opportunity!

People Love Sports

Viewership for the Men’s NCAA championship game last year drew 14.7 million viewers. For the Women’s NCAA tournament last year, the championship game drew a record 12.6 million viewers, and the Elite Eight games experienced a record high of 2.2 million viewers. While the NFL and NBA conclude with one big game, March Madness has people excited for weeks! Whether rooting for an alma mater, the underdog, or the mid-blowing rising stars on the court, the excitement can’t be denied.

People Love Competition

Competition can be a way to bond with others. Sharing a common goal and working together to achieve it can create a sense of camaraderie. This easily translates to the workplace, where people can connect over similar team picks, or enjoy rivalries that won’t likely cross over into work projects. Here is an easily downloadable bracket. It’s not too late!

A pre-pandemic survey by Randstad U.S. found that 73% of workers said they “look forward to going to work more” when they participate in office pools.

That same survey also found that:

  • 84% agreed that office pools go a long way to “make their jobs more enjoyable;”
  • 79% said that participating in office pools greatly improved their levels of engagement at work;
  • Half of the respondents meet up with coworkers after work to watch a college basketball game in March, leading to closer relationships; and
  • 39% became closer with a coworker after participating in an office pool.

People Love Prizes

Have a blast deciding when to award prizes and don’t just save it for the best bracket!

  • Perfect Bracket Bonus: If you’re offering a prize for a perfect bracket, obviously this would be awarded at the end of the second round, when all first-round upsets have been revealed.
  • Upset Picks: Award prizes for the most correct upset picks during this period. This creates excitement during the early, unpredictable rounds.
  • Daily/Weekly Challenges: Run smaller, daily or weekly challenges with prizes. This could involve predicting specific game outcomes, point margins, or conference winners.
  • Most Points Scored: Award a prize for the person who correctly predicts the team with the highest total points scored across these games.

Additional Tips:

  • Bonus Rounds: Consider bonus rounds throughout the tournament where participants can earn points or entries for additional prize drawings. This could involve trivia questions, polls, or social media engagement.
  • Participation Prizes: Even if someone isn’t winning all the contests, a small participation prize for sticking with it throughout March Madness can be a nice touch.

Offer gift certificates, sports tickets, restaurant gift cards, candy, half days off, and more!

Engage with employees by asking who they are rooting for, whether their favorite school is in the tournament, who they hope gets to the Final Four. Follow up with them as the days go by to see how their teams are doing. This casual banter can build rapport that leads to an open environment of communication.

Day to Day Employee Celebration CalendarKeep this high-energy engagement all year long! Use this free resource to start building an everyday culture of gratitude that employees will love. You’ll find inspiration and employee appreciation ideas for every month of the year.

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