Just two days before the tip-off of the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, business writer Paula Burkes of The Oklahoman reported on the different approaches employers are taking to March Madness. While some are embracing the event as a way to have fun in the workplace, others are strategizing as to how to limit the seemingly inevitable decrease in employee productivity. According to global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the loss in productivity associated with filling out brackets, watching games, and engaging in other sports-related activities is expected to cost U.S. employers billions.
While Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet once again has offered $1 million a year to any of his employees who correctly pick a perfect bracket through the tournament’s Sweet 16, McAfee & Taft attorney and hoops fan extraordinaire Phil Bruce, who was quoted in the article, recommends that employers discourage large cash prize pools. Office pools are technically illegal in Oklahoma, he said, but the legal risks are low that state and federal laws will be enforced for low-wager brackets. Employers that do not have anti-gambling policies in place are also less likely to face scrutiny than those who do.