How To Foster Employee Competition And Drive Improved Performance

Imagine this: You’re a salesperson responsible for more revenue than anyone else in an extremely competitive organization. You’ve worked tirelessly to get to where you are and you’re extremely proud of yourself. However, you walk into work one day only to find out another salesperson has surpassed your numbers and, as a result, is getting the promotion you’ve been eying for months.

How would that make you feel? Jealous? Angry? Surprised? How you react to this situation will ultimately affect your sales numbers. Competition has the potential to bring out the best or worst in us. A study done by the Harvard Business Review found that people have different reactions to competition. Some people get anxious and, as a result, come up with unethical ideas in order to rule out the competition, such as taking credit for a colleague’s work. Others get excited and approach situations with creative solutions to beat the competition, such as finding new processes.

So, this begs the question: How can companies foster competition that creates positive behavior, produces productivity and drives improved performance?

Making The Case For Gamification

Gamification might be the answer. If you’re not familiar with this term, gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-gaming environments. This includes challenges, points, badges, leaderboards, rewards, etc. Gamification allows users to compete without fear of real-life consequences. Simultaneously, it encourages learning and practicing relevant information. When done right, gamification can create a sense of excitement among individuals and boost productivity. Often, the most effective gamification programs focus on success instead of failure.

Shared Sense Of Community

Competition might evoke an image of individual struggle. However, gamification can encourage group play within any community. Rather than pitting individuals against each other, companies can offer games that encourage teamwork, which results in a strong and shared sense of trust among colleagues. A more collaborative environment can help to create a more productive work environment.

For instance, if a company were to offer a generous reward to an entire department if they were able to succeed in their challenge as a team, this would foster a collaborative work environment. Employees would essentially have to work together in order to overcome a challenge and be rewarded.

Companies can also create challenges for individuals that offer a “rejuvenating” system. For example, an application called Health Month encourages users to stay healthy by implementing a points system. Ultimately, the end goal is to stay healthy while also have fun doing it. Each user is given 10 life points every month and the challenge is to have at least one life point left by the end of the month. If the user breaks a rule, they will lose a point. However, users’ friends can heal them in order to get points back. This prevents users from feeling inadequate about their failures and gives them more chances to try again in order to accomplish their goals.

A shared sense of community takes the stress out of competition in achieving goals and opens the door to a more fun and collaborative way to compete while also fueling productivity.

Healthy Competition Between Coworkers

Growing research suggests that people who are happier tend to work harder. “A playful workplace helps draw new talent, relieve stress, increase motivation, and build relationships with co-workers,” said Ed Graziano, the founder of Corporate Event Interactive, in an article. He goes on to say, “The strength of games as motivators lies in their ability to tap into our social natures and harness powerful psychological factors — such as the desire to share, to collaborate, to compete, and to create — to a playful end.” Furthermore, it encourages teamwork and collaboration and brings employees closer, all in the name of healthy competition.

As competitions grow throughout the workplace, so do results. Increased motivation and relationship-building are just two of the many benefits that competition with coworkers creates. A shared sense of community and a safe place to fail together also ensure that your employees will work together to problem solve and find solutions to difficult situations. A little friendly competition that doesn’t create high-stress situations can go a long way to fuel productivity within a department, organization or team.


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