Score a win at the office with March Madness

If you think the annual NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament is sucking the life out of your office, take another look. Yes, workers who love basketball will be distracted over several days, but you’ll also see employees who rarely interact with each other talking and building relationships across departments. March Madness can be a silo-buster.

“Rather than try to squash employee interest in March Madness, companies could embrace it as a way to build morale and camaraderie,” advises John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In fact, his firm recommends putting a few TVs in the break rooms, so employees can track their teams without sapping bandwidth from your organization’s Internet connection. Instead of driving an employee-organized pool underground, sponsor an organization-wide one with no entry free, to steer clear of legal and ethical concerns. As long as their work is done and your customers are happy, grant employees a bit of slack, Challenger says.

I not only agree but also recommend holding activities throughout the year that tap into diverse employees’ interest. Let them vote for their favorite movies before the Oscars or music artists before the Grammys.

People whom I had worked with for years were stunned and amused when we held a party during which, in place of name tags, we wore stickers with the most surprising thing about ourselves that people would never guess. It was a real conversation starter. (Sorry, but I don’t know you well enough to reveal it here. The better people know me, the more shocking it is.)

Through the years I’ve participated in and read about a wide variety of team-building activities. Our company even includes remote workers in an annual Halloween costume contest. (We also feature a team-building activity each month on our sister site, CommunicationBriefings.com.) Yet I continue to hear about new ways employers find to amuse and build connections among staff members.

My friend Joan recently told me that her office was holding a “Whose fridge is it?” contest. Employees posted photos of the inside of their refrigerators and were having fun trying to match their co-workers with the contents.

What activity has built relationships among team members throughout your office?

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4 Responses to Score a win at the office with March Madness

  1. fgryan says:

    Great suggestions. I know March Madness will be a big topic of conversation in my organization so we might as well have some fun with it!

  2. Catherine says:

    I’m a big fan of any activity that builds camaraderie among co-workers, so of course I love all of these ideas. Another fun one: baby picture IDing. It’s like the “Whose fridge is it?” game, except you try to match the employee with his or her baby picture. I had a lot of fun with that one!

  3. Could not agree more, Amy! Companies that don’t embrace March madness are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Not only can the excitement of the games boost employee morale and bring employees together, but it can also generate new business! March Madness provides a conversation starter for a sales team to interact with new clients about a lighter topic. Every year my company hosts an annual March Madness party complete with T.V’s playing the games, a hotdog vender, popcorn and chili. We invite clients, prospects and candidates to come and enjoy the game. While the event is a lot of fun, it also allows people to relax and talk openly about their needs and how we can help them. Don’t overlook the power of a little basketball during the month of March!

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