It’s Madness, I Tell You
By Jennifer Jacobus, PHRca, SHRM-CP
So, here we are, that time of year when all we hear about is March Madness; this brings out the competitiveness in your employees and also brings out office gambling pools which can then result in loss of engagement and productivity.
I read an article that suggested that employers embrace office pools; which I thought was interesting since it is a form of gambling and therefore illegal. Having said that, I think the article made some good points. With technology what it is today, employees are no longer reliant on the office desktop for their basketball scores and highlights and as a way to check their brackets—employees now have direct access through their smartphones and tablets. This makes it hard to restrict and control the updates and the pools. The article also suggested that office pools are good morale boosters and could be used as team-building exercises with an emphasis on camaraderie.
I think that this can make sense if done properly which means taking the monetary exchange out of the equation. Revisit your gambling policies and if office pools will be allowed, modify your policies to reflect prohibition of on-line gambling. Also make sure your policies are clear with regards to performance and productivity standards, a time and place for promoting activities that are not directly related to work and make sure that it is clear that these office pools are strictly voluntary—employees should not feel forced or obligated to participate in any way.
Non-monetary prizes are a good way to handle office pools. An article in Business and Legal Resources suggests including the proceeds of a tournament or pool to charity or provide other non-monetary prizes such as tickets to other sporting events.