Spartans' Success Presents Benefits, Challenges for Employers

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EAST LANSING -- Game day in mid-Michigan can just about bring the area to a standstill.

"I did some work, but my adviser's out of town, so don't tell him I'm here," one MSU fan said Friday at Crunchy's bar in East Lansing. The Spartans shellacked the Iowa Hawkeyes in Day 2 of the Big Ten Tournament.

The distraction of such a big game, according to human resources expert Toni Talbot, can create a dilemma for employers.

"If you've got bracketology going, you're going to have a lot less productivity, but, you know, sometimes you have to have those things happen," said Talbot, who owns Human Resource Management Services.

Talbot doesn't have any hard-and-fast data, but says her 30 years of HR experience suggest big games for MSU or UM can drag productivity as more workers take long lunch breaks or take the day off altogether.

But she says that depends on the business -- and might not be such a bad thing after all.

"It just kind of lightens up the workplace and makes it a little more fun," she says. "The owner may not allow any kind of flexibility and be very stringent on something like this and pay for it in the long run" by creating a morale problem.

And for some local businesses, namely bars and restaurants, the Spartans men's basketball team's success has been a boon.

"This has exceeded what our expectations were," said Steve Montanye, owner of the Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe, of the crowd that showed up Friday for the noon tip-off.

He saw double the usual sales for a Friday.

Crunchy's got a bump, too.

And remember: The Spartans play again this weekend (possibly twice), followed by Saint Patrick's Day next Saturday, and then March Madness. It makes the month a monster one, and local businesses will be rooting for a deep MSU run.

"The better they do," Montanye says, "the better we're gonna do during the month."

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