March Madness: 23 million Fans and $1.2 billion Lost Productivity

The cost to employers in lost productivity from March Madness excitement over the NCAA men’s college basketball championship tournament could surpass $1.2 billion over the course of the 19-day event that begins March 15, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey. 

MRI CyberStats says 79.1 million Americans have access to the Internet at work. Gallup Poll  shows 29% Americans at work consider themselves college basketball fans. Based on this data, Challenger estimates that 22.9 million workers are likely to spend time surfing March Madness-related sites during the tournament.

Challenger survey of 100 human resource executives found that:

  • 6% of companies plan to take steps to prevent workers from accessing March Madness websites. 
  • 94% of companies either do not consider productivity loss during the tournament a problem or they allow the March Madness distraction as a reward for hard work the rest of the year.
  • 23% of companies plan to embrace employees’ excitement over the tournament: televisions in break rooms and conference rooms; encourage workers to wear their favorite team’s apparel; office pool and other March Madness-related activities.

Using the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Challenger researchers assumed that these 22.9 million workers earn an average of $671 per week, or about $16.80 per hour (based on a 40-hour work week). That breaks down to $3.78 every 13.5 minutes, which was the average amount of time spent by visitors to ESPN.com, one of the most popular sports websites during the NCAA Tournament, according to Internet research firm Hitwise.

The championship game will be played on April 2 in Atlanta , Georgia . 

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