6 Ways to Make March Madness & Employee Engagement a Winning Combination

March Madness is just around the corner. If your business has been around for a while, you’ve probably heard the seasonal cries of alarm. Headlines may read “Is March Madness Killing Business?” or “Study: American Business to Lose Billions to March Madness.” But savvy small business owners don’t need to worry. March Madness isn’t a business killer. And it doesn’t have to ruin your team’s productivity. In fact, March Madness is perfect for employee engagement.

What is March Madness?

Just in case you missed the memo and don’t know what March Madness is, here’s a brief rundown. March Madness includes two collegiate basketball tournaments (men and women) that occur in March and end early April. Hosted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the tournaments are single-elimination with 68 teams. The games are fast-paced, surprising, and bound to bring out the competition (and camaraderie) of your employees. 

March Madness and employee engagement

No matter what, there’s a chance your employees will tune in to a March Madness game while at work. And as it turns out, they’re happy to do it. Four out of five employees admit that watching and celebrating March Madness boosts morale at work. 

So instead of wringing your hands about March Madness ruining American business, why not join in on the fun? If you’re worried about March Madness employee engagement, we’ve got you covered. 

6 Ways to make the most out of March Madness 2023

In 2022, over 10 million people tuned in to watch the madness unfold. That’s a 13% increase from 2021. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if even more people tuned in for March Madness 2023. 

Instead of trying to stop your employees from talking about or watching March Madness during the work week, you could embrace the purely American tradition. And you don’t have to sacrifice productivity to do so.

So, how can you harness March Madness to engage with your employees? Here are six ways to enjoy March Madness with your employees. 

6 ways to engage employees during march madness. 1 make a bracket challenge for the office. 2 let employees decorate their workstations. 3 Allow employees to wear team colors. 4 Set up a watch party. 5 Write a basketball trivia game. 6 Make space for tournament talk

1. Make a bracket challenge for your office

It’s estimated that more than two-thirds of workers fill out NCAA brackets to predict who’ll come out on top for each tournament game. Bracket challenges are part of what makes March Madness so exciting. A perfect bracket is hard to come by. According to the NCAA, brackets fall into two categories:

  • Those made with some amount of knowledge with a 1 in 120.2 billion chance at a perfect bracket
  • Those made by flipping a coin with a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance at a perfect bracket

Usually, bracket challenges involve cash prizes. The trouble is that cash prizes for sports outcomes are considered gambling and may be illegal in your area (if you have remote workers, employee state laws apply). 

Some companies may forego cash prizes and offer company swag for winners. Other companies may do it purely for the thrill of victory. What if a bracket challenge needs to be simplified or simply isn’t your style? Create a March Madness sweepstakes and allow employees to choose their own teams or assign teams to employees at random. Then award the winner company swag, gift cards, or money.  

Check out the NCAA website to download a printable bracket. If you want your bracket to be entirely digital, ESPN can help you out. 

2. Encourage employees to decorate their workstations

It doesn’t matter if your employees work in the office or from home; they can still show off their team spirit by decorating their workstations. So, encourage your employees to decorate their desks to showcase which team they’re cheering on.

Tech-savvy employees may also want to change browser colors and design to match the team they’re rooting for.

3. Let employees sport their team’s colors

What better way to show off team spirit than team-related clothing? Employees can be true to their team’s colors with all types of clothing, from shirts and pants to baseball caps and socks. Depending on your office dress code, you may have to lighten up the rules temporarily. 

Choose a specific day employees can show off their team swag. You may even create a competition for the best outfit. If you’re entirely remote, think about posting pictures of the March Madness outfit of the day on the company’s chat channel or on social media.

4. Set up a watch party

One of the best things about watching a game is being able to watch it with other people. And if you have an office-wide bracket challenge, watching the games together can quickly turn the excitement up to 11.

If you’re in the office, a March Madness office party may be the perfect way to bring the company together. Think about setting up a TV screen in a common area or projecting the game from a computer. Whatever you do in the office, make sure the excitement is available for everyone. 

You can still create a viewing party online if your company is remote. To get the full experience of an in-person viewing, you can set up a group video call through Zoom or Google Meet. You can also use YouTube to streamline this process. With a YouTube TV subscription, you can stream all of the games. And with the YouTube Party extension for Chrome, you can make sure that video is synchronized with all employees. 

5. Create a basketball trivia game

See which employees are tried and true collegiate basketball fans through a March Madness trivia game. Here are some sample questions you could ask:

  • What team won the first men’s NCAA basketball national championship? (Answer: The University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46-33 in 1939, long before the NCAA national championship was called March Madness)
  • When was the first NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball championship held? (Answer: 1982)
  • What team won the first women’s NCAA basketball national championship? (Answer: Louisiana Tech won against Cheyney State 76-62)
  • Who is the all-time top scorer during a March Madness game for men’s and women’s teams? (Answer: For the men’s division, it was Austin Carr for Notre Dame in 1970 with 61 total points. For the women’s division, it was Lorri Bauman for Drake in 1982 with 50 total points)
  • What sportscaster first used the term “March Madness”? (Answer: Brent Musberger in 1982)
  • What is the March Madness anthem? (Answer: “One Shining Moment”)

6. Make space for tournament talk on the company chat platform

Use a chat platform (e.g., Slack) for tournament talk to help connect your employees and store the season for posterity’s sake. Encourage employees to share predictions, favorite March Madness recipes, and team insights. 

Important dates to remember

When preparing for March Madness and employee engagement, it’s good to keep important dates and times in mind. Check out helpful charts for the men’s and women’s divisions. (After Selection Day on March 12, these charts will be updated to show a more detailed schedule).

Men’s division

2023 DatesRound
March 12Selection Sunday
March 14-15First Four
March 16-17First Round
March 18-19 Second Round
March 23-24Sweet 16
March 25-26Elite Eight
April 1Final Four
April 3NCAA National Championship

Women’s division

2023 DatesRound
March 12Selection Sunday
March 15-16First Four
March 17-18First Round
March 19-20Second Round
March 24-25Sweet 16
March 26-27Elite 8
March 31Final Four
April 2National Championship

Get the latest small business news delivered straight to your inbox!

Most popular blog categories