I am not a betting person typically, so it was with a bit of fear, trepidation, but admittedly, also some excitement, the first time I was asked to put in a couple of bucks and fill out my bracket for an NCAA college basketball March Madness betting pool. If the surveys are to be believed, it seems about 60% of the American workforce does participate in some form or fashion. And a brand-new study shows it might not be as bad for office morale - or productivity - as most managers think.

A new OfficeTeam survey (see tables below) suggests nearly one-third (32%) of senior managers interviewed said activities tied to the college basketball playoffs actually boosts employee morale, and more than a quarter (27%) feel March Madness has a positive impact on worker productivity.

The survey also shows a shift in the way managers and supervisors view the activity. OfficeTeam did a similar survey in 2013 and found only 20% of managers they interviewed thought it boosted morale and only 16% thought it had a positive impact on productivity.

27% of managers surveyed feel March Madness has a positive impact on worker productivity.

In fact, if you go back even further, you will find some very different survey results from various sources about the impact - good - or bad - of March Madness activities.

The consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, has made kind of a cottage industry out of the lost productivity during March Madness thing. They claim 2.5 million people spend an hour and a half of each workday following the NCAA Tournament, costing American businesses millions.

It's a slightly different take though to look at it from the standpoint of IT. In years past, lots of city governments and others have banned workers from accessing the games in the workplace, for fear the internal bandwidth suck might impact service to clients and customers.

One-third of IT professionals try to block, ban or slow down streamed March Madness content through the throttling of video feeds.

Last year, Modis, an IT recruiting and staffing company, commissioned a telephone survey of 500 IT professionals and found one-third tried to block, ban or slow down streamed March Madness content through the throttling of video feeds, with about the same number stating they thought the policies will only continue to get more restrictive.

And a survey of HR professionals cites an 11% increase in sick days or tardiness during the NCAA Tournament.

Here are the results from the OfficeTeam survey when people were asked, "Do you feel March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) activities in the workplace, such as watching games or participating in pools that don't involve money, have a positive or negative impact on employee morale?"

Very positive 11%
Somewhat positive 21%
No impact 62%
Somewhat negative 5%
Very negative 2%
             101%*

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

Managers also were asked, "Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace have a positive or negative impact on employee productivity?"

Very positive 4%
Somewhat positive 23%
No impact 62%
Somewhat negative 7%
Very negative 4%
100%

Tags: News, OfficeTeam, Challenger Gray & Christmas, March Madness, IT professionals, NCAA, Office betting pools