In the world of work, competition among employees is as common as your morning coffee. Most companies create an environment where employees want to do well, get bonuses, and move up in their careers.
But not everyone feels the same about competition. Some people like challenges, while others find them hard. For some, competition helps them learn and grow by overcoming tough things.
This happens everywhere, from law firms and banks to big companies and tech firms. So, is competition at work a good thing? In this article, we'll talk about the good and not-so-good sides of competition and how employees can do well in different ways.
The impact of workplace competition on employee motivation
Workplace competition is a multifaceted phenomenon, capable of driving growth and triggering challenges. Its impact hinges on individual dispositions and the nature of the competition itself.
In workplaces where people compete, how they feel can make a big difference. Some get excited, like when playing a game, and this makes them want to solve problems in clever ways. Others get worried, like before a test, and this can stop them from thinking of new ideas.
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review looked at 204 workers from different jobs. Those who felt excited about competing wanted to come up with new ideas. They liked finding better ways to do things and making new products.
What researchers found is that competition is like a coin with two sides. For some, it's like a boost that helps them work better. It makes them try harder and come up with good results. But for others, it can be stressful. They worry about failing and feel bad when they see others doing well.
When competition is healthy, it helps people be more creative and work better. But for some, competition can make them feel stressed and worried. They might be scared of failing and what could happen, like losing their job or having money troubles.
The pros and cons of workplace competition
Pro: Encouraging Team Efforts
While money is important, workplaces have discovered that additional incentives can boost employee motivation. For instance, a sales contest for a specific product can inspire a healthy competition, offering rewards like an Employee of the Month title or team celebrations. Tailoring incentives to what drives employees can spark their commitment.
Con: Amplified Anxiety
Competitive settings might escalate workplace stress, particularly for employees not naturally inclined to compete. Sales teams, often brimming with intense competitors, might add anxiety for those not inherently competitive. To counter this, leaders should emphasise teamwork as the overarching objective, alleviating undue pressure.
Pro: Elevating Work Quality
Competitive environments fuel innovation and productivity, yielding higher work quality. Individuals striving to win explore diverse solutions, fostering efficient work habits. Granting employees the freedom to trust their instincts and solve problems enhances this competitive edge.
Con: Weakening Team Morale
In teams grappling with teamwork issues, heightened competition can worsen morale. This is especially true if a single employee dominates incentives and accolades. Relying solely on competition can breed negativity, as strained team dynamics may lead to undermining behaviours. Diminished morale correlates with decreased productivity. Effective competitive atmospheres require open communication and team-building initiatives to balance the scale.
While workplace competition can boost motivation, creativity, and work quality through tailored incentives, its overemphasis may result in anxiety and decreased team morale. Striking a balance that encourages teamwork and effective communication is crucial for harnessing the benefits of competition while mitigating its drawbacks.