Tips to avoid the Super Bowl hangover at work

It’s an annual football game that for many has become equivalent to a national holiday. Yes, the Super Bowl — or “the big game” as you’ve probably heard it incessantly referred to in recent weeks by advertisers scared of the NFL’s trademark attorneys — will be played for the 51st time this Sunday, Feb. 5 in Houston between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.

With football’s biggest event around the corner, excitement in the workplace may very well be reaching a fevered pitch, even if the Packers fell short this season and will be watching from their couches like the rest of us. But is the anticipation throwing employees off their game at work? A new survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam says not necessarily — when it comes to the Super Bowl, here’s how it impacts workers:

  • Morale: 66% of workers said incorporating the Super Bowl into the workplace can boost employee happiness.
  • Productivity: Only 11% of workers said they’re less productive the day following a large sporting event, while the majority of respondents (67%) said sporting events have no impact on their work productivity and 21% said they increase their productivity.
  • Distractions: 30% of employees said the most distracting or annoying coworker behavior when it comes to major sporting events is being a poor sport or overly competitive.

When it comes to major sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Series, or NCAA Tournament, which often attract the attention of even the most casual fans, managers are better off finding ways to incorporate the event into the workplace rather than trying to crack down completely on all sports-related talk or activities, experts advise.

Sasha Truckenbrod, branch manager of OfficeTeam in Madison, notes some managers will take the proactive step of organizing friendly competitions where employees fill out brackets, but no money is required to enter, and money is not given out to winners. Instead, small prizes such as company-awarded gift cards are given.

“Allowing employees to take quick breaks to talk sports with their coworkers can help them recharge,” Truckenbrod adds. “The majority of workers will still get their work done.”

Truckenbrod also recommends fostering friendly competition by letting staff wear their favorite team apparel or decorate their workspaces, within reason, to get in the spirit.

“Clearly communicate policies regarding employee breaks and internet use so professionals know what’s acceptable when it comes to sporting events and other non-work activities,” Truckenbrod says. “Set a good example by showing how to participate in sports-related festivities without getting sidelined from responsibilities. If you complete assignments before talking sports, employees will likely follow suit.”

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While Truckenbrod says Super Bowl festivities and conversations may have little negative effect on productivity, it’s still important for people not to go overboard. She offers the following tips for workers to ensure their productivity doesn’t suffer:

  • Don’t just call off work on Sunday or Monday morning. Let your boss know in advance if you’d like to take time off to enjoy the game (or sleep in the next morning) so he or she can manage workloads.
  • Find out company policies on employee breaks, personal internet use, workplace decorations, and sports attire.
  • Take quick breaks to check scores or talk about games with colleagues, if allowed, but stay on top of your work responsibilities.
  • Try not to be offensive. You can cheer on your favorite team without getting overly competitive.
  • Even if you’re not a sports fan, try to join in on some game-related activities with coworkers to build camaraderie.

Truckenbrod notes a little friendly competition — staff wearing their team apparel or decorating workspaces — can definitely be a good thing. But going overboard with team spirit or taunting others who support opposing teams can make things uncomfortable.

“It’s important for employees to remember it’s just a game,” says Truckenbrod.

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