March Madness Not the Only Thing Workers Bet On

March 21, 2014 ( – The annual NCAA Basketball tournament (a.k.a., March Madness) is underway and many U.S. employees are filling out brackets and competing for accuracy.

A CareerBuilder survey finds one in five (19%) employees say they have participated in a March Madness office pool in the past, while 11% say they plan to do so this year.

When comparing job levels, directors, managers and team leaders were the most likely to report placing a friendly wager at work, with 24% participating in March Madness pools. Entry-level and administrative/clerical workers were the least likely at 14%.

One-third (33%) of employees who earn six figures or more said they have participated in office pools for the tournament, compared with 18% of those who earn less than $100,000 annually. Twenty-five percent of workers who earn $50,000 or more annually have placed their bets, compared with 14% of those who earn less than $50,000.

Employees who specialize in number crunching and driving revenue were among those most likely to have joined in bracket challenges at work. Top industries included financial services (31%); sales (30%); IT (29%); professional and business services (25%); leisure and hospitality (22%); manufacturing (20%); and health care, with more than 50 employees (17%).

Men have shown a greater likelihood to place a March Madness wager at work. Twenty-six percent of men have participated in March Madness office pools, which is double the percentage of women (13%).

While employees of all ages place bets around the tournament, NCAA office pools are particularly popular among younger employees. Twenty-two percent of employees ages 25 to 34 have participated in pools at work in the past, and 16% plan to do so this year, the highest of any age group.

Broken down by region, March Madness bets have been more common in the Northeast and Midwest, where 23% and 22% of workers, respectively, have taken part in an office pool. They are followed by the South (19%) and West (15%).

CareerBuilder also finds for some offices, the NCAA tournament is not the only opportunity to make friendly wagers. Some of the more unusual office pools include:

  • Who could raise the best-looking Chia Pet;
  • When a coworker would be fired;
  • How long the boss’s marriage would last;
  • How many times the boss would call a female direct report “girl” in one day;
  • When a coworker would change his shirt, which he wore for 11 consecutive days;
  • How much time someone would get when convicted of a crime;
  • How many electoral votes the presidential candidates would receive;
  • How many times the plant manager coughed during a meeting;
  • The birth date of Prince William and Duchess Kate’s baby; and
  • How many pages were in a patient’s medical record chart.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll, on behalf of CareerBuilder, from November 6 to December 2, 2013. It included a representative sample of 3,008 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes in the United States.