What Can HR Learn From March Madness?

It’s that time of year again … March Madness has arrived. While your employees are filling out their brackets and streaming games on their desktops, HR managers are thinking about one thing: lost productivity.

Notorious for disrupting the workplace, March Madness can be as big of an HR nightmare as managing FMLA. OK, it’s not that bad … but typically productive employees spend hours watching college hoops, discussing games with their co-workers, and checking their bracket standings. The result? A lot less work is accomplished by the end of March.

But is there something to learn from this blatant display of disengagement? And is it really all bad? We think there are a few things that HR can take away from March Madness and apply specifically to their leave management best practices.

1. Offer Self-service — Employees love pulling their bracket standings and getting up-to-the-minute stats and scores. Why not offer the same flexibility when they need to request a leave or check on the status of their leave of absence? Allowing employees online access to their leave requests provides clear communication and keeps employees engaged even when they’re not in the office.

2. Appeal to the Masses — Even those with absolutely no interest in or knowledge of college basketball can get into March Madness. Why? Because the rules of “bracketology” are simple and relatively unchanging across all websites and groups that use them. HR can apply the same approach to leave management. Provide clear, simple instructions to managers and employees and establish enterprise-wide policies (along with an easy-to use online tool) to manage those policies.

3. Go Viral — Part of the reason that March Madness has blown up in recent years is thanks to the Internet, as well as new social and mobile technology. Fans can have stats pushed to their phones and can be emailed updates if their teams won or lost. HR managers can offer the same convenience by emailing certification requests and necessary absence documentation to employees and operational managers. Instead of sending the bulk of materials by mail, an online correspondence tool can provide a leave specialist with the ability to send LOA correspondence with the click of a button.

4. Join In — If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Instead of fighting March Madness, embrace it by providing a company-wide bracket contest or streaming the games in the conference room. Letting your employees unplug from work every once in a while will usually result in happier, more productive employees post-Madness. In the same manner, a leave of absence managed by a consistent, compliant, and informed HR manager will result in a happier, more productive employee post-leave.

Besides, with a leave management tool that offers self-service leave requests, enterprise-wide enforcement of HR policies, and automated correspondence, you’ve already saved a lot of HR hours to make up for those lost to basketball. Have fun!