Embrace the Madness

Tim Minahan
Mar 22 · 3 min read

Pundits claim the NCAA Tournament is bad for business. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Pundits love to hate March Madness. The tournament is bad for business, they claim, creating a distraction in the office that ranks just behind Facebook and texting. And as the games roll on, they’ll speculate on the impact it has on employee productivity — or lack thereof — and the billions in losses it will lead to. But they’re looking at things all wrong.

When the NCAA announced the teams that would be going to the Big Dance last week, employees around the world joined office pools and began making their picks for who would win it all. For the next three weeks, they’ll be watching — even during work hours — and trash talking with their peers. That’s not a bad thing. Why? Because they’re engaged. And that’s a huge win.

Happy is as Happy Does

Research shows that engaged employees are happier, more productive and deliver a superior customer experience. And that’s good for business. According to Gallup:

· Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share

· When taken together, the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21 percent greater profitability.

But Not Everyone is Happy

But the majority of employees worldwide — 67 percent by Gallup’s estimates — are not engaged. And that is what’s really costing companies. A study from Harvard Business Review found organizations with low employee engagement scores experienced 18 percent lower productivity, 16 percent lower profitability, and a 65 percent lower share price over time.

Experience Matters

Employee experience isn’t just a buzz word. Employees are the lifeblood of every business. They are your source of innovation. They make your products and deliver your services. And most important, they are the front line to customers. If they aren’t engaged and happy, your customers won’t be either.

Follow the Leaders

Traditional thinking suggests customers must always come first. But such thinking is inherently flawed. Leading companies know that to win the hearts and minds of their customers, they need to engage them on a personal and emotional level, and they’re investing in creating positive experiences that enable them to get the right people in the right roles to do it. And it’s paying off.

Studies have shown that companies that treat their employees well earn customer loyalty and significantly boost their brand value. Take Starbucks: 87 percent of the company’s customers say their loyalty to the brand stems from the perks they offer employees.

So how can you create an environment in which your people can thrive?

Ignore the clock

The nine-to-five work day is dead. Employees today work around the clock. And they’re constantly on the move, working from an average of four locations a day on multiple devices. Many start by checking email on their tablets at home, continue working on smartphones during their commute, fire up their laptop when they get to their office — which may be a local coffee shop — and repeat the process on the way home where they may tie up loose ends before officially logging off.

Be Flexible

Recognize the new reality of the way work gets done and create a digital workspace that gives employees the flexibility to choose when, where and how they work. And eliminate the noise you’ve created by implementing too many tools that are too hard to use by giving them access to the SaaS, web and mobile apps they actually need and prefer to use in one unified experience.

Live on the Edge

In addition to apps that automate tasks and make work more efficient, arm your employees with tools that enable them to push the envelope. Tap into artificial intelligence and machine learning to see data in new and innovative ways. Leverage augmented reality to create entirely new worlds where they can interact with customers in insanely personal ways. Give new meaning to interactive marketing with drones.

Embrace the Madness

Gallup research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having friends at work and the amount of effort employees put in their jobs. So let your people engage in the Madness and manage their brackets for a few hours. The comradery that comes with doing so will pay dividends in the end.

Increasingly, competitiveness is being determined by how well companies can harness technology to drive new levels of employee engagement that improve the customer experience. So get in the game. Then sit back and watch as your customers — and your business — win big.

Tim Minahan

Written by

Tim Minahan is the executive vice president, business strategy and chief marketing officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.