March Madness is here, and for many, that means time to fill out those office pool brackets-- on company time. According to Websense, Inc, fans will spend about 1.5 hours per week on college basketball Web sites during "The Big Dance." Many companies say that misdirected time is benching real productivity and costing employers a pretty penny. Nationwide, employers lose about $101 million in productivity for every 10 minutes their employees spend checking out how their teams are doing, according to a study by New York outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But not every company says it has a problem with its employers taking a few minutes to fill out brackets on office time. Certified Public Accountant firm BKD partner Dave Mason says there's a time and place for everything at his office, including a little NCAA bracket break. He says for employees, this time of year is mad for another reason-- tax returns, and work always comes first.
"We're working 50 to 60 hours a week this time of year," said Mason. "If employees need 15 minutes to fill out a bracket, we don't have an issue."
Mason adds that since this is the most stressful time for the company, bracket breaks may benefit the firm more than cost it. Mason's company isn't alone. Right now it's estimated that 30 percent of American companies participate in March Madness office pools.