Office Pool Culture: March Madness By the Numbers

Business people throwing dice on conference room table
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Everyone loves a good bracket. There's some uniquely human about making a list, pitting the items on it against each other, and sequentially, systematically coming up with a winner. We like to think that there's something scientific behind the idea of "best," that Team X can be proven categorically superior to Team Y--that our favorite things are better than your favorite things--and the tournament bracket gives us that thrill in its purest form.

While the idea of the bracket isn't strictlylimited to March Madness, it is undeniably its ne plus ultra popularity-wise. According to a CareerBuilder survey, one in five workers said they've participated in a March Madness office pool in the past; 11 percent said they plan to this year. The survey also covered who's placing the bets, and which industries are the most bracket-happy. Did yours come out on top? Let's take a look.

Graphic: Mack Gelber

Place your bets
Who likes to bracket? Men like to bracket. Twenty-six percent of men have participated in March Madness office pools, as opposed to just 13 percent of women. Where are these men, you ask? Well, they're probably not in Oregon. The Northeast led the pack with 23 percent of participating workers, with the Midwest hot on its heels with 22 percent. The South also gave a respectable showing, with 19 percent of workers hitting the pools, while the West, where only 15 percent of polled workers participated, never would've made it to the semifinals.

These are mainly younger men, Millennials--fantasy sports-types between 25 and 34 who enjoy "surfing the interwebs" and posting "selfies" on the "Twitters." They formed 22 percent of the workers taking part in office pools, and we're not just talking about the interns and coffee gofers. Upper management got in on the action too; directors, managers and team leaders were the most likely to place a wager, with 24 percent taking part in March Madness pools.

Entry level, on the other hand, barely made a dent--only 14 percent. Maybe they simply lack the capital. Those paid to the tune of six-plus figures proved far more likely to put their money on the line (33 percent), compared with the 18 percent who earn less than $100,000 annually. When you set that alongside the 25 percent earning $50k or more, and the 14 percent earning less than that, you're looking at a betting pool made up of Lamborghini drivers and those on their way to owning one.

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Get back to work
So, we know that office bracket participants consist primarily of rich, authority-wielding bros from Connecticut and New Jersey. But that doesn't tell us which industries they work in. Surprise! Most of them (31 percent) are in financial services. Sales (30 percent) and IT (29 percent) rounded out the top three, while healthcare workers (17 percent) apparently had something more important to do. Check out this helpful infographic, and see where your industry ranked.

Graphic: Mack Gelber
As stated above, tournament brackets need not be limited to the world of college basketball. People can and will apply them to everything from candy to favorite Muppets, and some of the office pools out there are even more bizarre. Are workers betting on who can raise the best-looking Chia Pet? Affirmative. Are they betting on when one co-worker will change his shirt after wearing it for 11 consecutive days? Yes. Yes they are.

For every office wager you'd expect (how many electoral votes presidential candidates will receive) there's one that skews uncomfortably personal (how long a boss's marriage will last) or provides a study in office sexism (how many times a supervisor will call a female direct report "girl" in one day). Our favorite had workers betting on how many times a plant manager coughed during a meeting, indicating that he was lying. That's a dangerous game, all right.

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re you in a March Madness office pool this year?

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