How US workers dribbled away $12.1B in lost productivity during March Madness

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More than a quarter of U.S. employees watched March Madness during work hours in 2019, according to a recent TSheets survey. The impact on business: a loss in productivity worth $12.1 billion.

Here’s how we did the math.

During the 2019 March Madness tournament, college players competed in 28 games that started during the workday — that’s 17 hours and 5 minutes of live March Madness games played up until 5 p.m. PT.

Prior to the tournament, 26% of adults working for wages during the traditional Monday-Friday workweek said they would be watching while at work.

Here’s how long these superfans planned to watch the games while on the clock:

 

 

There were 156,748,000 employees in the U.S. workforce in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assuming our survey was reflective of the U.S. workforce, that means 26%, or 40,754,480 people, watched March Madness at work.

Break down that 40.7 million, and you’ve got the below chart. And yep, that’s 16 million fans who watched all 17 hours and 5 minutes of live tournament games at work.

 

How many fans watched March Madness at work for each amount of time

1 hour 2,979,152 fans watch 2,979,152 hours total
2 hours 7,144,260 fans watch 14,288,520 hours toal
4 hours 5,424,421 fans watch 21,697,684 hours total
8 hours 3,321,490 fans watch 26,571,920 hours total
16 hours 2,253,723 fans watch 36,059,568 hours total
Over 16 hours 3,248,132 fans watch 55,488,921.67 hours total
The whole time 16,387,376 fans watch 279,951,006.7 hours total

 

Total all those hours, and you get this: U.S. workers spent 437,036,772.3 hours watching March Madness while on the clock.

So what does that mean for employers? The BLS reported an average hourly wage of $27.70 in March, which puts the total cost of March Madness at $12,105,918,592.70 in lost productivity in the U.S.

But all may not be lost for employers. 52% of fans said they start early or stay late to get work done during March Madness. And what employers do lose in productivity, they may make up for in improved workplace morale. 61.57% of fans say workplace morale is better during the tournament, and 64.29% say they’re happier.

 

 

Is employee happiness > lost productivity? Or does cracking down on time spent watching March Madness on the clock = more green at your business? You’ve got to do that math yourself. 

Questions? Email Alysha Love (alysha_love@intuit.com) for the full data set, breakdowns by demographic, or infographics for your website.


*Methodology: On March 6 and 8, 2019, TSheets commissioned a mobile phone survey through Pollfish of 1,067 employed U.S. adults who report watching March Madness at work during the traditional workweek, with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.
TSheets welcomes the re-use of this data under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original source is cited with attribution to “TSheets.”