Competitive Workplace Strategies: Do They Work?

competitive workplaceIs encouraging a competitive workplace right for your business model?

There’s no question that we live in a competitive business culture.

  • Technology changes entire industries every year.
  • Technology also creates industries, creates jobs and eliminates jobs every year.
  • New forms of marketing engage consumers every year, and
  • Businesses are now competing with both local business communities and a global ones.

Over the past few weeks, much has been made of the business culture and work environment at Amazon. There has been much criticism and questioning of the necessity of their highly competitive workplace considered by many to be overly harsh.

In the NY times article on Amazon, it claims that their professional employees are well paid and have the opportunity to work on exciting world-changing projects. The problem arises that they are pushed to the breaking point in a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest climate where many burn out and end up leaving for less harsh environments.

The big question is, is this the right environment for a 21st century business? Amazon is an extreme example. As one of the top online retailer of the world, they can do pretty much as they please. I would not be surprised to see them making changes after this expose. Many potential millennium recruits may steer away from this type of  competitive workplace environment. After all , their mantra is “work to live,” unlike the baby boomers “live to work” attitude.

So this bring up the question for you of how competitive should your workplace be?

Depending on your industry, there are probably dozens of other daily reminders of what a different time we live in. Business owners and managers are consistently looking for ways to make sure they can still thrive in modern marketplaces. One important way to set your business apart is to hire top talent. However, in so many industries like high-end sales, technology, advertising, finance, oil and gas; you’re not the only suitor that’s come by for Sunday dinner.

One alternative many employers are considering is using competition to develop certain skills in staff they already have. However, aggressive competition isn’t right for every organization.

The Good

Many people believe that every organization should have some competition, and that no competition leads to mediocrity. However, if you’re happy with the way your company is performing and aren’t seeking growth, (this is common with small businesses and microenterprises like shops and corner stores), then aggressive gamification isn’t for your company. Rewarding staff for gaining CEU credits, doing work in the community and other non-competitive acts are the type of workplace strategies that will improve your organization.

However, competition typically does promote performance and productivity, at least for a little while. Just think of the ongoing wars between your local cable and satellite companies. In addition, if you’re having trouble attracting top talent, you’ll find that top performers are attracted to environments where they receive performance rewards and status recognition. This is because they feel employers like this recognize their contribution. As the saying goes, if you don’t make your mate happy someone else will. Well, the same goes for your business’s top performers.

However, you won’t attract non-competitive, easy-going people to your organization. It’s important to understand also that having a company fully staffed with strong individuals might present challenges.

The Bad

Environments that are too competitive can lead to internal destruction as your employees:

  • Undermine one another,
  • Steal clients from one another,
  • Cyber-bully each other,
  • Tarnish each other’s reputation, and
  • Get so distracted with internal drama, they miss opportunities

It’s important to make sure your staff understands that the ultimate competition is with your business’ competition. The wrong kind of competition can inhibit healthy collaboration. Encourage your staff to recognize when it’s time to work together and don’t breed bitterness.

Getting Started

  1. Define your current company culture. An easy-going office should add enrichment games, not competitive ones. A staff of fast-talking sales professionals, however, can handle stiffer competition.
  2. Ask employees if they want to compete. They might know best what will make them work better and faster.
  3. Test your gamification out on one group to make sure it will work in your office. Many people start with sales departments or interns. See if your plan works well and if other staff members seem interested.
  4. Carefully go about introducing the game and gauge results as often as possible to make sure it’s still producing results that benefit your organization.

Contact us today! We understand that enhancing your office doesn’t just stop at choosing your space. Our hope is that businesses can create successful business environments incorporating the right staff, design and current trends.

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