There’s always been a constant debate on whether competition is healthy for workplace culture. Many employers believe it will create a natural balance amongst colleagues and increase productivity. Competition can light a spark with employees and contribute to a stronger and sharper workforce. This in turn supports higher productivity, increases efficiency and improves company turnover.
However it’s important to get the right amount of competition as it can lead to increased stress levels in employees. This can have negative effects for a company as stress can lead to increased levels of unproductivity and inefficiency. Pushing employees to meet deadlines and forcing them to adhere to management standards can create a poor impression when gaining the trust of management. Competition can sometimes be deadly, kill morale and potentially foster backstabbing in the workplace. Many employees wouldn’t wish to be in a role where they have to compete and struggle every day and be exposed to constant comparisons. Plus many teams have a different mix of personalities and some individuals won’t cope with intense pressure brought on by the environment. A few employees will do their best to work in high-stake environments whilst others need calm surroundings to perform optimally.
To get a better level of balance employers can introduce ‘cooperative competition’ for a less fierce level of internal competition. Cooperative collaboration means that colleagues working together can help push one another to be more productive and remain stronger together.
There are a number of ways that healthy competition can be fostered. At Off Limits Events we have a number of team building events that have the correct balance of fun and competiveness. This includes the Soap Box Derby event that’s essential to supporting clients in a fun, competitive environment. The activity is similar to Robot Wars meets Wacky Races and uses only basic materials and tools to build roadsters for the competitive team trials. At a recent Soap Box Derby event client Sky UK commented “The people that attended were sales people and the competition and banter between the teams was infectious”
In It To Win It event also has an element of competiveness with its series of quirky, two minute challenges. The event not only encourages competition amongst teams but it’s a quick fire, fun and high energy event to get employees collaborating and laughing. We also offer a number of activity days including Clay Shooting, Segways or Quad Biking to encourage competitive fun in a non-threatening environment.
It’s important to remember competition isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach - introducing competition means teams compete with one another for a resource or prize. Also, when you turn the heat up employees can become intimidated and retreat within their team. All teams have a combination of personalities and are hardwired differently - some individuals will do their best in high-stake environments whilst others need calm surroundings to perform optimally. Plus it means employees can focus more on self-satisfaction and personal development rather than constantly focusing on their employer.
By its nature competition can alienate good employees that appreciate collaboration over the one-upmanship approach. When employees are ranked in the workplace it can be stressful and similar to a revolving game with the intense pressure causing employees to leave. Sometimes it’s better for companies to focus on their own competitors rather than creating competition between their own colleagues. It’s about injecting fun back into competition and ensuring employees can collaborate and learn how to support and work together. Keep competition healthy, fresh and exciting for all employees!
Do you feel competition is healthy in the workplace? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter or Linkedin.