March Madness costs companies cash

Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 2:25 PM EDT
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Millions of college basketball fans watched last year's NCAA championship when Villanova took home the title.

Marvin Harper was among those tuning in. March Madness is one of his favorite times of year and that excitement has made its way into his office. He's heading up the pool at, where about half the staffers filled out brackets this year.

"I think there's a lot of great energy. I personally put my bracket right there on my desk. Everyone can see it as they walk by, so it always engages conversation," Harper said.

Harper and his team aren't alone.

In a survey, office workers admitted spending an average of 25 minutes during the workday on March Madness activities like watching games and filling out brackets. Analysts say that adds up to an estimated $13 billion in lost productivity for employers.

But that money may be buying companies some goodwill.

"I think it definitely helps with morale and teamwork," said Ted Rossman, one of Harper's colleagues at

About 84 percent of workers say office pools make their jobs more enjoyable.

"It's fun when you get a bunch of people from different departments clustered around the TV and having lunch and talking basketball," Rossman said.

"Of course, work comes first," Harper said. "I think they would also appreciate bringing the office together is just as important as doing a good job. You can't do one without the other."

While most office pools involve a cash prize, Harper and his co-workers aren't playing for money. But the winner walks away with a full year of bragging rights.

The average amount of money contributed to an office pool by employees is $22.44.