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March Madness: The Ups And Downs Of Office Pools

3.12.11

Around this time every year, articles appear exhorting employers to be very cautious about permitting the annual office betting pool for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, affectionately known as March Madness. Granted, many of these articles are written in states where office pools are strictly illegal. Fortunately, this is Texas, where office pools don't quite rival our enthusiastic support for gun-owner rights, although it may be close. While banning office pools is largely unrealistic, and likely ill-advised, given their morale-boosting potential and the camaraderie they can engender, there are legitimate workplace concerns regarding productivity and legality. To keep an annual tradition from leading to employee disciplinary issues, employers should be aware of and prepared to manage these concerns.

Office pools, particularly those surrounding March Madness, can and should be an opportunity to boost workplace morale and build a stronger, more connected workforce. Taking simple, constructive steps to maintain productivity and comply with state law will help the office pool remain a worthwhile annual tradition.

This article appeared in the March 12, 2011 edition of The Houston Chronicle.

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