We’ve made no bones about our love of basketball at the Wiley Law Office. With an average height of 6’4” and an average shooting percentage of 25%, it isn’t hard to see why we love to watch the sport so much. But this time of year can be especially difficult for employers on multiple fronts. First, you want your employees to remain efficient even with the great number of distractions available to them. Second, you want to keep gambling and any collateral damage out of the office. Finally, you don’t want to be seen as a boring employer who puts an end to anything fun taking place in the office.
So, what advice can we give you to maintain a productive workplace yet not be so harsh that all your employees call in sick this Thursday and Friday?
First – blocking any and all access to sports websites, streaming services and any other webpage having to do with the tournament will most likely be futile. Your employees all have phones, and if their access is blocked on work computers, they will just turn to the closest computer on hand to access sports. The best way to address the issue of improper internet use is to remind employees of your internet access policy. Many employers allow employees to use the internet for non-work-related purposes during break times. It is important to reinforce what appropriate use of the internet is, including streaming services. Remind them that the rules will still be enforced as always.
Second: remind them of any anti-gambling policies that are in place – and don’t deviate. You are setting standards for your employees for years to come. If you allow for certain gambling practices to be established in your office, you can expect that to be used against you in the future should any impermissible gambling occur and you try to hold employees accountable.
Next, you can have your own office bracket challenge! Invite those interested to participate in an office bracket challenge – allow for them to take some time out of the day to fill out a bracket and compete against one another for office bragging rights. Just keep money out of it. A prize from the company to the winner is certainly acceptable, just create boundaries for employees. Let them know when they can be working on their brackets, checking scores, and bragging to their co-workers. A small break from the work day to do something like this can be a huge boost to morale, gives you an opportunity to reinforce expectations for employees going forward, and can actually boost production once the brackets are complete.
Finally, be a good example. If an employee sees his or her supervisor leaving for two hours to head to the closest sports bar to catch his alma mater in its first round action, you can be sure the employee will disregard any warnings given to him or her as soon as they have an opportunity. If you hold yourself to high standards, it makes it much easier to hold employees accountable.
With that, good luck, have fun, and if you have any questions on maintaining employee production or disciplining employees, contact the Wiley Law Office for advice that works.