Is workplace competition healthy? 4 ways to do it right
26Nov, 2020

Is competition healthy? 4 ways to do it right 

 Are today’s organizations more focused on achieving a collaborative work culture over a competitive one? Probably yes, however, we are for collaboration and teamwork, but not if it means to eliminate healthy competition. 

Healthy competition at the workplace motivates employees to achieve more and also to push their limits to outperform their own self. It inspires creativity, innovation and improves work quality.  

The inter-departmental or competitive spirit between different groups of the same department if done right can help achieve team targets as well as help individuals outdo their numbers.  

 Often in call centre companies, encouraging and friendly competitiveness is created between the day and night shifts by tracking the number of calls attended, customer issues resolved, TAT and more, as a strategy to fuel healthy competition. Different organizations can employ similar tactics to help employees learn or understand how they stand in comparison to their colleagues and inspire them to perform better. 

Competition is sometimes reciprocated negatively. While some competition between employees can prove to inspire creativity and be a motivation factor, the flip side of it could also trigger fear, stress and anxiety as well as frustration. But, we believe competition is necessary for ground-breaking organizations and a little competition can be effective if executed properly. 

When planning for a competitive work culture it is very critical to consider how employees perceive it. Will they embrace it or will it kill their enthusiasm? If employees healthily take competition it becomes a catalyst for innovation and improvement.  

Another way to look at it is from a company culture perspective. The culture in the workplace largely affects every aspect of an organization. While no two cultures are exactly similar, some characteristics define a specific work culture. These ‘culture indicators’ can be used while choosing ways to promote healthy competition in the workplace. 


Here are 4 ways to promote healthy competition in the workplace:  

A study on workplace wellness conducted in 2015 found that an alarming 80 per cent of participants would prefer to work alone than in a team because of unhelpful or hostile work environment and possible that 80% has increased in the past 5 years.

The fact of the matter is, competition works only when leaders promote it the correct way. Here are ways to harness the positive power of competition. 


  1. Peer to peer recognition  

Peer-to-peer recognition is a way to express likeness and appreciation for colleagues’ work and efforts. It not only creates a healthy work culture but also reflects a healthy work environment where employees are not just involved in their own work but are attentive enough for other’s work.  

A study found that peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. However, the Gallup organization found that recognition for good work has a “shelf life” of just 7 days. So recognition should be instant before an employee feels unappreciated. 

A negative competitive culture can evoke rivalries and sour relations between people and teams. Therefore, it is necessary to create a strong foundation that promotes peer recognition culture. It can be done in various ways, for instance, Buzzz allows employees to appreciate and recognize peers publicly on the office intranet. This indirectly fosters collaboration, increases employee satisfaction, improves employee relationships as well as reduces employee turnover. 

 The German utility company E.On applied the principle of recognition to optimize their staff engagement levels. They introduced a recognition program that encouraged personalized recognitions via digital and physical thank you notes. This led to an increase in staff motivation score from 61% to 69%, employees ‘feeling valued’ increased from 39% to 52% and their business vision also rose by 57% to 75%. 


  1. Team-based activities

Team based activities are a great way to inspire healthy competition in the workplace. It generates excitement between employees that allows them to indulge in a fun challenge. Shuffle team members across organizations to hold departmental team activities to strengthen employee relations and engagement. Team based activities are designed keeping in mind the fact about bringing people together, where they learn the ability to win by accepting help from others. 

 This can even be executed as a part of an onboarding activity where new employees are teamed up with different employees to help them mingle with each other.  

 Companies like Google, Amazon, Dell and Spotify used ‘The Go Game‘ a platform that offers virtual team-building experiences for distributed teams. This encourages spontaneous interaction, authentic connection, and heaps of creativity and fun, even if on-screen and not physically present together.  


  1. Rewarding for innovation & ideas

A reward tied with an activity gives an additional reason for employees to go the extra mile. It is a driving factor that helps to increase productivity and engagement. Rewards can be monetary or non-monetary. 

Organizations can run in-house campaigns and reward employees or team members for every new idea they suggest and innovation that helps the organization achieve its goals.  

 One of the great examples is Google, where their staff-driven innovation helps to keep their people happy, engaged and motivated. This is one of the reasons why the company is successful and is one of the most desired workplaces.


  1. Gamification- leaderboard and badges

Gamification is nothing but the implementation of game elements in a non-game context where point scoring, winning rewards, maintaining of leaderboards, encouraging competition, etc. are installed as ways to inculcate the desired behavior.   

The leaderboard and badges are a fun way of maintaining a scoreboard system to drive healthy competition.  

 One of our clients has a reward platform linked to a point-based system to promote inside sales where they have multiple digital rewards for individuals to redeem on achieving their sales target. The point-based system promotes a healthy competition amongst employees where they can see the achieved point of every employee. This helps other employees to tighten their shoes and stay abreast of every sale. The leaderboard helps them to understand and keep a pulse on organization values and the badges are a way to track their employee engagement.  


 Recommended Article– Gamification at Workplace: Everything HR Needs to Know


While leaders, organizations and HR are optimistic, creating the perfect type and amount of competition is difficult to get right. It is also found that 25% of people are unaffected by competition and only 50% benefit from it. Gender also in some way plays an important role in the effectiveness of it as men tend to be less fearful of the risks inherent in competition whereas women tend to be conservative about their chances of winning and try to avoid competition. The best way to begin the process of infusing healthy competition at the workplace is to first measure and understand how employees perceive competition and collaboration. Only then should one move to identify the strategy that works best for their employees. 

Competition if healthy will bring out the results, but negative competition has a slight chance of ruining your workplace culture.

Key points to take away when planning a healthy competition:

-Be aware of the purpose and avoid creating a culture of fear.

-Remember, not all competition is productive. Understand and only promote competition that can help in productivity.

-Know that similar kind of competition might not work for all.


Buzzz is designed in a way to handle and promote healthy competition and deliver real-time feedback that will help organizations engage employees and increase employee productivity.  

To know more about how you can create a reward driven competitive work culture with Buzzz, book a demo.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *