It is that time of year again when traffic to work becomes lighter and the commute easier. It is also that time when, as predictable as ever, there is a sudden surge of “sick” employees at this time. The cause of your employees’ collective “illness”? A little too much basketball.

According to a recent Yahoo Sports Poll, approximately 14 percent of employees will call in sick for the first two days of this annual tradition of college basketball playoffs. For those employees who do make it to the office, the same poll reports 56 percent will spend company time following the games. Last year, Challenger Grey determined that the March tournament really could be madness for employers with an estimated $1.2 billion loss of employee productivity.

So what can employers do? Recognize that this happens and work to limit the lost productivity. Send an email or memorandum to employees during this annual ritual, recognizing the event and providing simple reminders. One reminder can be: Make sure you work with your supervisor on scheduling time away from the office. Another reminder could be: Avoid streaming the games otherwise the entire network will shut down if each employee does this. A third reminder could be to limit the number of emails regarding the games and, instead, encourage that activity to happen during break periods.

Some employers who truly have embraced the “madness” have made the games available to watch during breaks and lunches. Others have allowed for company-wide pools, with the winner receiving an extra day of vacation, but there is a catch: The employee cannot miss any work during this time.

So, instead of getting “mad” at the month of March, employers can embrace it and create positive employee relations while still keeping employees productive. Let the games begin!