posted on 19 March 2017
from Challenger Gray and Christmas
While President Trump has stated he will not fill out a bracket for this year’s NCAA tournament beginning March 14th, millions of workers across the country will likely spend company time researching teams and making their picks. This activity could cost employers over $600 million, according to one more conservative estimate.
More than 40 million Americans fill out tournament brackets, according to the American Gaming Association. Applying the current employment to population ratio to that figure, 23.7 million workers will fill out brackets for this year’s games.
Of course, the distractions do not end with filling out the bracket. Even more productivity is lost over the first two full days of tournament play (Thursday and Friday), when a dozen games are played during work hours.
While this annual tradition has become commonplace in the American office, there is a cost in terms of lost wages paid to distracted and unproductive workers. This year, the cost could reach as high as $2.1 billion. Said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas:
Challenger’s estimate is based on the number of working Americans who are likely to be caught up in March Madness; the estimated time spent filling out brackets and streaming games; and average hourly earnings, which, in January, stood at $26.00, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The challenge is estimating the number of people who participate in March Madness pools. A 2015 estimate from the American Gaming Association estimated 40 million Americans fill out 70 million brackets. A 2014 article at Smithsonian.com put the number of Americans “filling out brackets" at 60 million.
Using the current employment-population ratio of 59.2 percent and the more recent 40 million estimate, 23.7 million workers are filling out brackets.
Meanwhile, a 2012 MSN survey found that 86 percent of all workers will devote at least part of their workday to updating brackets, checking scores and following games during the tournament. If that survey sample was representative of the US workforce, it means that the number the working Americans with “March Madness" could reach 125 million.
Furthermore, the MSN survey indicated that 56 percent of all workers planned to spend at least one hour on March Madness activities. Assuming that holds for this year’s tournament, that is roughly 81.5 million workers who will each cost their employers an average of $26.00 in wages for an hour of wasted productivity. That comes to a total of $2.1 billion for the group. (81.5 million X $26.00)
Even with the most conservative estimates, March Madness is still costly. Each hour of unproductive work time for the 23.7 million March Madness bracket-producing workers will cost employers $615 million. Challenger adds:
Despite the potential for a lapse in productivity, Challenger warned against reining in workers’ March Madness proclivities. Concludes Challenger:
KEY MARCH MADNESS STATS
NUMBER BETTING/FILLING OUT BRACKETS
NUMBER OF VIEWERS
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