Everyone loves a little healthy competition. Creating competition between employees within the corporation breeds innovation and creativity. Employee competition creates a beneficial work environment when done in the spirit of rewarding both the employee and the corporation.
Employers who provide incentives and acknowledgment encourage growth. They also create loyalty to the corporation and improve morale and culture in the workplace.
Teamwork remains at the top of importance to employers. Over 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration of high importance, according to Queens University of Charlotte. Teamwork and collaboration create a healthy amount of competition among teams as they strive toward company goals.
Competitions that encourage fear and unethical behaviors should be avoided. Negative competition that causes employees to fear losing a job or earned status makes people become cutthroat and sometimes makes the best of employees leave a corporation.
Positive Effects of Healthy Workplace Competition
Successful Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote said, “Don’t kill the competition. Competition is healthy for business. It keeps you, the entrepreneur, on your toes.”
Challenging assignments and opportunities for positive competition foster high employee morale by:
- Inspiring innovative ideas
- Discovering new solutions to problems
- Improving existing processes
- Thinking in new ways
- Increasing effort and output
- Increasing quality of work
Creating Competition Between Employees Within the Corporation
Employers inspire ideas that encourage new products and improve processes when challenging their employees. Utilizing teamwork and competition between teams gives employees the opportunities to challenge themselves to rise to the top and for the company to succeed as a whole.
Healthy competition in the workplace puts an emphasis on the process and skills development of the employees and not solely on the outcome. Examples of healthy competitions in the workplace are:
Sales Quota Competitions
Many corporations have overall sales quotas or a projected amount of revenue. In order to ensure those goals are met, employers can create healthy competition among teams.
Encourage internal competition between business units by offering a reward for the team with the most sales in a time period. Always ensure that the rules of the competition are designed to reward ethical work and are not designed to be punitive.
Employ a contest designed to be a think tank. Many employees have fantastic ideas on how to improve a process or product in the company but often never have the platform or the freedom to express those ideas.
Having an idea contest, whether it be individual or among teams, produces an opportunity for immediate feedback and free-flowing communication, which in turn produces results that are of high-quality.
Some of the best designers in your corporation have not been discovered yet. One of the positive competitions in the workplace is called a Hackathon. This competition can be a two-day event in which teams come up with ideas for new products in the company or ideas to better an existing product.
This can be done as a major event internally where it can be made into a festival-type atmosphere with prizes at varying degrees. The employees get to enjoy positive team building and prizes. Additionally, the company gets to enjoy a positive climate in the workplace and the benefit of new products and processes.
If a company is relatively new or relies on the employees understanding the entire company as a whole, Trivia competitions can make learning about the company rewarding and fun. Teams will compete in a trivia contest against one another, provoking a little friendly competition in the workplace. Various prizes and incentives will encourage everyone to contribute.
Read More: 7 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams
Examples of Competition in the Workplace
Examples of positive competition include incentives that won’t create conflict. If cash-based incentives cause individuals to feel jealous or threatened, try a non-monetary form of reward. For example, you can assign additional vacation days when employees share ideas that save time and money.
If you have a negatively competitive culture, it’s important to find ways to make people feel more included rather than excluded.
People like to be recognized for their contributions. Thanking someone for their good work, even if it’s in the line of their normal responsibilities, can garner loyalty and gratitude. It can also set a good example for employees to thank one another for exemplary performances.
You can also consider desktop awards granted to individuals or teams that allow employees to receive recognition for healthy competition.
Effects of Unhealthy Competition in the Workplace
Sometimes, creating competition between employees within the corporation can result in a toxic environment. If employees feel like their jobs are on the line, they will soon develop an attitude of having to do whatever it takes to succeed or at the very least not get fired. The effects of an unhealthy competitive environment include:
- Fear: Being scared of losing money or a job makes people secretive or unable to function appropriately.
- Putting others down: Putting others down makes some employees feel more secure and this can create a toxic work environment.
- Scarce supply of reward: If there is only one reward to vie for, people may not feel they have a fair chance to win.
- Winning no matter what: People become cutthroat when they feel winning is the only option.
- Illness: Either real or imagined illnesses result in additional sick days and lost productivity.
- Information hoarding: Employees may hold onto information to prevent anyone from taking over their jobs. This attitude can hold back an entire team.
- Negative alliances: Negative competition breeds negative relationships. Coworkers sometimes break into alliances that work against each other.
Books such as “Dealing With Problem Employees” provide great insight into avoiding unhealthy competition.
What Can You Do to Overcome or Deal with Unhealthy Competition in the Workplace?
It is Sunday evening, and you are already dreading going into your workplace tomorrow. You always feel like you have to watch your back, not share ideas for fear of them getting stolen, and keeping any information to yourself lest it be used against you. You probably are working in an unhealthy workplace environment. What can you do to cope?
An unhealthy competitive workplace can spark some employees to make fun of you or your work to make themselves appear smarter or superior. It can be unnerving when a coworker makes fun of your ideas, designs, or the way you do your work. This is particularly disheartening when it happens in a team or client meeting.
Don’t come back with a worse comment but try to deescalate the situation by asking for criticism on which you can build. If they then continue to insult you, this looks bad on them. You may also want to speak to the coworker in a private setting to try to come to a resolution.
A fearful coworker who is afraid of losing his or her job and also has no self-confidence when it comes to innovation or ideas can slip in and take credit for your work. One way to perhaps approach this is to begin asking questions about the project. This is not to embarrass the coworker but to put you back in the driver’s seat of the work in question.
Once this occurs, the coworker may come to you or admit the work isn’t original or simply admit he needs help or isn’t fully capable of doing the project. Once this takes place, you can also talk privately to the coworker to find out what is behind the betrayal or to put your foot down about it not happening again. You can even brainstorm with them how to make competition less uncomfortable for the sake of the team.
Overcoming Unhealthy Competition
What makes competition in the workplace good or bad?
In an unhealthy workplace, a coworker may try to ruin your project or make your project seem incorrect. This often happens when the coworker has been made to feel like he has to win at any and all costs to save his job. Don’t respond. Ask someone you can trust to weigh in on what has happened. Once you have had time to look at all possible angles, you can consider talking to a boss or manager about what has happened.
If you feel like there are repeated attempts to make your work look bad or the competition is too unhealthy to deal with, you may consider trying to find another job. Now that you know what it is like to work in an unhealthy environment, you will know what questions to ask at your next potential employer so you can avoid this type of thing again.
Keep these thoughts in mind when creating competition between employees within the corporation.
Read More: 20 Signs You Are Being Sabotaged At Work
Healthy Competition Is a Good Thing When Implemented With Care
Herbert Hoover said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection for the consumer, it is also the incentive to progress.”
I have found that healthy competition provides the consumer with the best products and services a company can provide. It is also the way to ensure the most innovative and creative ideas are born of the people who make up the company. In my experience, healthy competition in the workplace provides the best situation for collaboration and teamwork and makes for happy customers and happy employees.
What makes creating competition between employees within the corporation good or bad? Positive competition in the workplace will result in a more positive corporate culture. So, poll employees to find out what’s working and what’s not. I feel that adding a layer of transparency to your management style will typically improve morale rather than lower it.