Office Time-Waster: NCAA Bracket Pools May Cost Businesses a Billion

Office Time-Waster: NCAA Bracket Pools May Cost Businesses a Billion

Think the water cooler, cubicle-invading motor-mouth, or Facebook destroys company productivity? This week, year-round time wasters may be surpassed by a once-a-year phenomenon: NCAA basketball betting pools.

A Chicago Tribune article speculates that if just one hour of work gets wasted filling out brackets, gazing at scores, or chit-chatting over the tournament per employee, American businesses will lose over a billion dollars. One firm estimates a loss of $1.2 billion.

“The impact on productivity comes from several directions,” John A. Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas told the newspaper. “You have employees talking about which teams made or didn’t make the tournament. You have other workers setting up and managing office pools. Of course, there are the office pool participants, some of whom might take five minutes to fill out a bracket, while others spend several hours researching teams, analyzing statistics, and completing multiple brackets.”

The Tribune article points out that roughly 50 million Americans, including the president of the United States, participate in some form of bracket selection this week. If money changes hands, the pools, technically, bristle with the law. But Mr. Challenger advises employers to look the other way, if only for this week, at the office scofflaws.