If your office has gone entirely remote, you might be struggling to maintain employee loyalty and engagement without the cool office and daily face-to-face interaction with co-workers. One way to get employees re-engaged with your company culture (and their team) is by introducing healthy competition in the workplace. In this post, we’ll outline how to distinguish positive and negative competition in the workplace, share some fun competition ideas for the workplace (both in-person and virtual), and share why rewarding employees is so imperative to healthy competition.
How to distinguish healthy competition 👍 from unhealthy competition 👎
To be clear, encouraging competition in the workplace needs to be done strategically. There’s one key way to tell whether your competition initiative is unhealthy or healthy. Ask yourself: Is this activity friendly or threatening?
Fostering a culture of collaboration can help create the right attitudes for healthy competition. Your employees should want to enjoy personal success while also deriving joy from the success of others. Growth should be at the core of healthy competition. As a team, you should be thinking about the goals you want to achieve together.
At Crema, our Venture Lab teams work at different paces and see different levels of success. Each milestone on the VL teams is celebrated by everyone though — not just the people on that team.
Competition becomes unhealthy when individuals are focusing too much on their personal success rather than the success of the team/company. It can cause jealousy, sabotage, and distractions — none of which are conducive to a successful business. By taking time to celebrate the small wins alongside the big wins, you encourage every team member feels heard and appreciated. You also create a safe space for failures. If winning is the only source of satisfaction for your employees, you have unhealthy competitions festering in your culture.
How we encourage competition 💪
Our operations team at Crema works hard to plan activities that not only build the relationships between employees, but also encourage individuals to push themselves.
Product drives linked to employer match are another way to incorporate healthy competition into the workplace. Not only are you setting a benchmark for employees to work towards, but you’re also living out a spirit of generosity in the process. By partnering with organizations like Giving the Basics, we’ve found a way to drive competition in our workplace while helping a local organization give back.
Other activities we’ve incorporated into our culture include a chili cook-off in the fall, March madness brackets, and a friendly game of Pickleball. Whether you’re an HR professional or small business owner, we recommend incorporating several, varied competitions throughout the year that allow your employees to shine.
Other ways to introduce friendly competition in the workplace (virtually) 🖥
Now, you may be thinking ‘how am I supposed to carry out any of these activities with my employees distributed?’ Have no fear! A long term solution for virtual competition is Scorebot, a Slack integration that encourages employees to acknowledge and respond to messages in Slack. You can assign point values to emojis, rack up points with reaction-worthy Slack posts, and view your team's leaderboard to find out who rules the office.
With new time-boxed events, you can even set parameters for specific times that you want your competition to run. For example, if you want to incentivize emoji reactions in Slack in the month of May with a gift card, you set a competition to run just in that month and see who can rack up the most points.
Another workplace competition idea that you can run virtually is Zoom trivia happy hours. These happy hours are a huge hit with the team. Beforehand, we sign up for teams made up of 3-4 people in a shared Google Sheets doc. Each team chooses a name, and the game host shares the trivia theme so teams can (somewhat) prepare beforehand (ie: movies, decades, etc.). Throughout the game, teams are awarded points and one is crowned the winner!
Because the competition is based around trivial (ha!) subjects unrelated to work, there are no hard feelings when someone loses. We can all fire up our computers the next day and carry out our tasks without being distracted by the loss from the evening before.
Pass out those trophies 🏆
To round things out, consider the reward for those who do well at your competitions. Without calling out the ‘losers’, it’s important to recognize those who have come out on top. Whether it be a shout out in the company-wide Slack channel or something more tangible like a $50 gift card, brainstorm ways to incentivize participation and show that the company is taking the competition seriously.