As millions of U.S. workers begin filling out their NCAA basketball tournament brackets, we’re offering a second RiseSmart Challenge, a March Madness “office pool” for transitioning workers using our flagship outplacement solution, 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.

Offices are already abuzz with colleagues engaged in heated water-cooler debates over who will make the tournament and be crowned champion. We wanted to offer those in our Transition Concierge program the chance to experience this same sense of fun while they are between jobs. So we created the RiseSmart Challenge in 2012, and after rave reviews, we’re offering it again to Transition Concierge participants.

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 2012 survey conducted by MSN found that 86 percent of all American workers will devote at least some time during their work hours to watching the basketball games. 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 six years of helping put Americans back to work, we’ve found that the unemployed find work faster when they treat their job searches with a sense of adventure and fun. We try to create an atmosphere that encourages this positive approach. The RiseSmart Challenge proved to be a fun way to lift the spirits of workers in transition and energize them for the real challenge ahead – re-entering the workforce.

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