It’s Madness, I Tell You!

By May 1st, 2018HR Blog

By Jennifer Jacobus, PHR-CA, SDEA

March-Madness-300x200I hate basketball.

Okay, maybe “hate” is too strong a word. I strongly dislike basketball – excluding the Aztecs, of course (I don’t want to anger “The Show!”). But here we are at that time of year where March Madness is all we hear about. In spite of my own distaste for the sport, I know that many others love it – and love betting on which teams will be included in the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, etc. (pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t event follow basketball, huh?). The spirit of friendly competition can easily get out of hand, however, especially when gambling pools spring up at the office.

I recently read an article suggesting that employers embrace office betting pools, which I thought was interesting, since they are a form of gambling and are therefore illegal. Having said that, I think the article made some good points. With technology being what it is today, employees are no longer reliant on the office desktop for their basketball scores and highlights or as the only way to check their brackets; employees now have direct access to all this information and more through their smartphones and other mobile devices. This easy accessibility makes it difficult for employers to control the web browsing and downloading necessary to keep pools updated, so they might as well accept that wagering and gambling is probably going to happen. The article also suggested that office pools are good morale boosters and can be used as team-building exercises with an emphasis on camaraderie.

I think these arguments can make sense if enacted properly. This means taking the monetary exchange factor out of the equation. Those considering this for their latest team-building exercises should revisit their company gambling policies and, if office pools will be allowed, modify their policies to prohibit online gambling. Policies must also be clear regarding performance and productivity standards. Finally, make sure it’s clear that any office pools are strictly voluntary – employees should never feel forced or obligated to participate in any way.

Non-monetary prizes are a good way to reward winners of the office pool. And article in Business and Legal Resources suggests donating the proceeds of a tournament or pool to charity (a good idea in theory) or that another non-monetary prize such as tickets to other sporting events be awarded to the winners.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! And just for the record, I don’t hate all sports – just basketball.

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