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'March Madness' activities at work can cost companies

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By Jon Chrisos - bio | email

LOUSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - From Selection Sunday to Bracket Monday, tournament talk is in the air. Pens and pencils are in hand as basketball fans fill out brackets with their predictions. But March Madness comes at a big cost for companies. Workers wasting time on March Madness could cost employers close to $2 billion just this week.

As basketball fever hits workers in offices across the country, brackets are bouncing around in buildings. More than 50 million fans are expected to fill out brackets, many at work. Now a new survey suggests that might not be so bad.

After the bracket is filled out, the NCAA says it will take about 20 minutes a day to keep up with it. A consulting firm found it will cost companies billions of dollars during the week tournament, but another survey says March Madness is good for morale.

"Companies today I think are looking to not only motivate staff but retain key employees something like a March Madness can help with that," Chad Leibundguth with Office Team told us.

Office Team interviewed 1,000 managers. Forty one percent said allowing March Madness activities has a positive effect on morale. Only 22% said it has a negative effect on productivity.

Beef O'Brady's owner Mary Ann Smith actually encourages her employees to fill out a bracket while on the clock.

"We've never had a problem, we keep it all fun," Smith said. "It's never been a problem, definitely just for fun."

Office Team says it's important for companies to communicate their policies to employees when it comes to office pools and Internet use. About 5% of companies have blocks on their computers to keep workers off sites with tournament brackets.

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