It’s that time of year, again. College basketball fans in your office are gearing up for “March Madness”—and maybe getting a little crazed rooting for their favorite team or alma mater. With games being played throughout the workday, many companies are finding creative ways to keep employees productive and allow them to enjoy the excitement of the tournament.

While not everyone in the office will go “mad” over March Madness, those who enjoy basketball or simply like the thrill of predicting the winner will most likely be distracted for the entire month of March. In fact, an MSN survey cited that 86 percent of workers spend at least part of their workday updating brackets, checking scores and watching games during the tournament. In lieu of fighting a losing battle, many companies have decided to embrace the frenzy as an opportunity to bring employees together and boost company morale. Here are some ideas to engage your employees during this month long event:

  • Create a pool – Involve Human Resources in developing a company approved way for employees to engage in predicting a tournament champion. Have an interested department organize, display and update the bracket standings throughout the tournament. The winning department (or person) receives a free lunch or other special perk. Better yet, ask each department to pool money in name of a specific charity and donate all proceeds.
  • Host a party – According to an NBC News report, more than 40 percent of IT professionals said March Madness historically has slowed, or in some cases shut down, their company’s network. To reduce the number of employees streaming games to their desktops, set up tournament viewing areas and encourage employees to stop by during breaks to catch up on team standings and enjoy some yummy refreshments.
  • Relax the dress code – Define a “team pride” day each week and allow employees to wear team jerseys or team colors. Provide a prize to the department with the highest rate of participation.
  • Organize a catered party – Host a catered party with the office’s favorite game day refreshments. Consider the following items:
    • Pizza bagels or mini corn dogs
    • Fresh fruit on kabobs
    • Soft pretzels with dipping sauces
    • Veggie and chip platter with assorted dips
    • Miniature sandwich or burger sliders
    • Top-your-own popcorn – Check out these ideas from