Is Competition at Work a Good Thing?

Posted on - in Productivity Hacks, Work Productivity
competition at work

When we think of traditional business practices, we tend to focus on a company’s output, its ability for innovation and its marketability. As far as internal business ideas are concerned, human resources and employee productivity take center stage, but diving deep into these business elements brings to light certain practices and ideas that influence a company’s productivity and future.

One of these ideas is competition at work. Competition between co-workers and employee satisfaction are directly tied to the future of any business, which means many business owners and executives encourage competition in their offices.

More and more businesses split their employees into specific teams, offer incentives for new ideas and milestones or spotlight specific achievements in order to inspire and fuel individual ambition.

But does competition at work really encourage progress? Or does competition negatively affect cooperation within the workplace? What about employee satisfaction? Does competition counteract employee happiness? Is competition at work a good thing?

Happiness at Work

When considering the effect of competition in the workplace and its effect on employee happiness, we first examine the importance happiness plays in the professional world. There’s a proven and direct link between employee happiness and employee productivity.

In fact, companies with happy employees outperform their business competition by at least 20%, are 12% more productive and more than 30% of employees would sacrifice $5,000 a year from their salary for more happiness at work.

From these statistics, it stands to reason that there’s a second connection between employee happiness and profit. The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick discovered that unhappy employees cost United States businesses over $300 billion dollars a year.

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The Role of Competition

Based on various sources of corporate and university research, competition plays an important role in the improvement of productivity and, as such, the prospective growth of the economy.

Internally, competition serves co-workers and executives in a similar way as recreational sports.

Between close associates, it turns out that competition can be fun. When we challenge one another, we inevitably provide motivation for each other.

In the business sense, this motivation results in higher productivity, the generation of better ideas and an increase in staff satisfaction. So, yes, competition at work is a good thing — but that’s not the only question we’re examining.

Finding the Right Kind of Competition

The inevitable aspect of competition resides in its zero-sum nature. The success or victory of one party means the loss or defeat of the other. For recreational purposes, like when playing sports, this isn’t a problem.

But in business, a loss or defeat can negatively affect the financial well-being of an employee or staff member. Too many losses in any competition can even result in a company member getting ousted from their position.

The pressure from the wrong type of competition, or the consequence of losing, can induce depression or frustration and even encourage unethical behavior. These behaviors will not only darken the culture of the company, but they can also destroy a company’s public and professional reputation.

Because of these concerns, it’s important for companies to promote the right type of competition in their company. The type of competitiveness that unleashes creativity inspires innovation through excitement and creates anticipation of progress and success.

Internal company competitiveness should not involve grasping towards a single trophy, but rather advancement and validation.

There are plenty of sources where business leaders can get ideas for the “right type” of competition. It’s important to understand that competition can encourage happiness in the workplace.

With that happiness comes an increase in productivity and innovation, which in turn lifts the economy.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

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