Encouraging Healthy Competition in the Workplace

    Competition can be an excellent motivator, encouraging all involved parties to work harder, smarter and faster. However, we know that competition can also result in arguments, unpleasantness, and shoddy work. So how do we get one without the other? The trick is to encourage healthy competition while discouraging unhealthy competition in the workplace.

    Easier said than done, right? Well, fortunately, while it might not be the simplest thing in the world to get everyone working together effectively and efficiently, it is possible. In this post, Guardian Support looks at what healthy competition is and how to encourage it in the workplace. We’ll also take a look at unhealthy competition at work in order to be aware of the detrimental effects of overdoing it.

    What is healthy competition at work?

    Healthy competition at work can be defined as competition that genuinely motivates employees to reach their goals, focusing on personal achievement, with team achievement as the ultimate goal.

    In this kind of healthy competitive work environment, everyone is given equal opportunity to win, and everyone celebrates each other’s wins. Therefore, this type of competition means that one employee’s success doesn’t come at the expense of their colleagues. Some practitioners of healthy workplace competition say that no one should ever be branded a winner or loser, but you can consider your own work environment for this one.

    How to create healthy competition in the workplace

    Human beings are competitive by nature, so adding a few motivators and creating the right environment for healthy competition in the workplace should do the trick. This healthy competition can be an excellent catalyst for boosting their motivation, which will eventually lead to an increase in the productivity, profitability, and employee retention of your business.

    Here are our top tips for encouraging healthy competition at work:

    Start a Friday shout out

    Whether you work online or in the office, a Friday shout-out is an excellent way for employees to recognise and celebrate each other’s achievements during the week. Using your communication platform (like Slack) or a whiteboard, encourage employees to shout out a colleague who helped them or did a great job during the week, with details as to how. This will ensure that good work is seen and appreciated and gives employees a chance to be kind and supportive of one another.

    Play some games

    If you have the budget to go out of the office, bowling, laser tag, or even a pottery painting session can be a great way to get some lighthearted competition going. If you choose the latter option, have a competition to choose the best painted bowl or mug. 

    If you’re staying in the office, Jenga, ping pong, or even a good old-fashioned game of card can be great for building camaraderie and healthy competition.

    Offer non-monetary rewards

    A time-honoured classic, rewards always manage to motivate. While cash may stir up some resentment and unhealthy competition, non-monetary rewards, like a free vacation day or a massage session (by a professional, not you) can be a great motivator. Plus, employees can be happy for those that receive it, while working harder for the next one. 

    What is unhealthy competition at work?

    Unhealthy competition in the workplace can be described as a divisive element that pulls individuals in the opposite direction instead of uniting them to work towards growing the company, destroying teamwork.

    This form of competition has a tendency to put a disproportional emphasis on the outcome, instead of valuing the process and each other. A team’s harmony can quickly be broken this way, as individuals focus more on themselves and their own goals, instead of the community, each other, and the company. This can quickly turn into an ‘us versus them’ situation, which doesn’t benefit anyone, and can quickly turn into a toxic environment.

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