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March Madness and the Workplace

The 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship begins Tuesday, March 18. The tournament brings Cinderella teams, buzzer beaters, rabid fans and, of course, tournament brackets. And workplaces around the country are caught up in March Madness. The ease of organization is what makes the tournament attractive for office pools. Brackets are readily available for download from web sites like ESPN.com and NewYorkTimes.com. A recent survey by Vault Inc. reports that 57% of employees participate in NCAA basketball pools.

While some argue that filling out brackets can hinder productivity, many employers are viewing office pools as a team building activity for their workers. If it’s well organized, a pool like this can benefit the workplace by providing a regular fun activity and develop camaraderie among team workers. To ensure a pool is well organized, experts suggest the winnings must be divided among players, allowing all workers who wish to play and conduct the pool in person instead of over the phone or through e-mails.

Although the Vault Inc. survey reports that 86% of offices don’t have policies against pool betting, it is wise to check your company’s policy before joining or starting a pool. In some states, unlicensed gambling, like office pools, may be considered criminal activity. If that’s the case where you are, there are many alternatives. Participants can play for gift certificates, sports or movie tickets, or for proceeds to go to charity. By taking out the monetary aspect, non-gambling pools are perfectly legal.

What’s Most Important to You in a Job?

People’s priorities change over time. For example, what was most important to you five years ago probably isn’t quite as essential as it once was. The same applies for your professional life. What you want from your work evolves as you change and grow as a person. Have you found that what you’re looking for in a career is different than it once was?

Share your feedback in the comments section, or take our poll.

Does Your Company’s Conscience Matter to You?

conpany conscienceHow much does a potential employer’s community involvement or world outreach matter to you? Today’s businesses are active in programs that range from global hunger relief, children’s causes and cancer research to environmentalism, domestic abuse awareness and elderly care.

In the past few years, these kinds of social issues have become more important to a growing number of employees. In fact, research shows that some employees will accept lower pay in order to work for an organization that’s making a difference for the causes they’re concerned with.

What about you – how important is it for your employer to be involved in social causes you care about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, or vote in the poll below.

Do You Have a Work Spouse?

These days, most of us spend as much or more time with our co-workers as our friends and family. That may be one reason why so many people are favorable toward office romance.

Harris Interactive recently released a report showing that over one third (36%) of workers surveyed said they’d consider an office romance. According to the 2008 Harlequin Romance Report, 57% of men and 61% of women in the workplace have had a crush on a co-worker, and well over half of both men and women who’ve experienced workplace crushes say they’ve gone beyond a crush to a relationship with a co-worker (Hat tip: HR World).

But for many, it’s not clear what to do about the deep bonds or constant flirtations that frequently arise between co-workers even when things don’t turn into actual romance. There’s even a terminology that has sprung up to describe this relationship – a “work spouse.”  When you spend most of your time at work – or during your lunch hour – with a co-worker, think about them while at home, or look forward to the next time you’ll get to see or talk with them, you may just have what some call a “work husband” or a “work wife,” even if things are platonic. 

Though general camaraderie and good will among co-workers is a good thing, it can be difficult to draw the lines and keep work relationships in check, unless you have some guidelines to follow.

How can you know if things have gone too far in a co-worker relationship? Experts say taking stock of your on-the-job relationships with these questions in mind can help you know if you’re crossing the line into dangerous territory with a co-worker.

  • Are you obsessing over your co-worker when not at work?
  • How would you treat your work spouse if your significant other were with you?
  • Do you compare your real romantic partner with your work spouse?
  • Do you cross the lines into physical contact with your work spouse, even if it’s just as simple as touch on the shoulder?
  • Are you treating your work spouse the same way you would treat other friends?

What do you think about office romance? Have you ever known anyone in a “work marriage”? Let us know in the comments section, or vote in our online poll.

What’s Your Favorite Way to Celebrate the Holidays at Work?

wokplace holidaysThe holidays are a time of celebration with friends, family, and for many, those you work with. Just like families have holiday traditions, many workplaces offer different ways to recognize and celebrate this giving, joyful time of year. Do you have a favorite workplace celebration or cherished on-the-job holiday memory? Let us know in the comments below, and vote in our poll!