As millions of U.S. workers begin filling out their NCAA tournament brackets to celebrate March Madness, we’ve launched the RiseSmart Challenge, a March Madness “office pool” for all transitioning workers utilizing our flagship outplacement solutions, Transition Concierge. The program serves as a fun way to help unemployed workers take a break from the job search to participate in one of the traditional rites of American office life.

With the 68 teams announced, offices are already abuzz with colleagues engaged in heated water-cooler debates over who will make the Final Four and be crowned champion. We wanted to offer those in our Transition Concierge program the chance to experience this same sense of fun even while they are between jobs. So we created the RiseSmart Challenge.

The RiseSmart Challenge is open to thousands of transitioning workers currently in our Transition Concierge system. Participants can access the RiseSmart Challenge tournament bracket online; top prognosticators will receive special recognition and prizes.

A 2011 Harris Interactive survey showed that 20 percent of U.S. workers – or about 30 million Americans — participate in a March Madness office pool. RiseSmart encourages companies to embrace this annual tradition by enacting a program that builds interpersonal relationships across the organization and instills a sense of belonging and fun. Banning pools in an attempt to prevent lost productivity during the tournament is generally ineffective and can result in reduced morale.

In our five years of helping put Americans back to work, we’ve found that the unemployed find work faster when they treat their job search with a sense of adventure and fun. We try to create an atmosphere that encourages this positive approach. The RiseSmart Challenge is a fun way to lift the spirits of workers in transition and energize them for the real challenge ahead – reentering the workforce.

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