When Does Competition Improve the Workplace?

The word competition brings a thrill and a smile to the face of some people, while others visibly cringe. Competition can be exciting, and for many people, the thrill of competition keeps them going when they are participating in a race or even in daily life. Competition is a natural part of life, and is a very common motivator for Americans especially.

Although sometimes competition has a negative connotation, it can actually be very positive. Especially in the workplace, competition can encourage workers to accomplish more, as long as the competition remains friendly (or at least professional). While those who chose to compete in an abusive or angry way can be detrimental to a work environment, those who see rewards and the skills and successes of others as a reason to improve their own work actually cause workplace competition to be a good thing. Here are some ways that workplace competition can actually help improve a workplace.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Competition makes you work harder

If you feel like your job is threatened, it may cause you to feel sad or frustrated, and even act in a mean way. However, if you see another employee working hard and succeeding, it can also propel you toward working harder yourself. Whether you are working harder because you have a competitive nature or simply because you want to make sure that you are doing as good as the person next to you, it isn’t as important as the end result. The truth is that if your work improves, you will potentially set yourself up for a raise, a promotion, or a completely different job at another company. Improved work is a win-win for everyone, including your boss and yourself.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Competition increases productivity

Not only will your skills and work improve if you feel a little healthy competition, but it also can increase the overall productivity of your department if several people are competing. If you feel pressure to produce more work and get more done, then overall your department will benefit. Of course, too much pressure doesn’t equal healthy competition, and in that case, the work being produced might be based more on quantity rather than quality, but as long as the focus is on doing your best and producing as much good work as possible, the work overall can improve and better work can be produced. According to Inc., competition can encourage new ideas as well as productivity, and make you worker harder and smarter.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. Competition breeds respect

As long as you are competing in a respectful and professional manner, competition can actually encourage respect over time. If you see that your coworkers are doing a good job, then eventually your competition might change, or alter, into respect. When you want to emulate someone else, you can usually appreciate their skills as well. According to Inc., rivalries don’t have to end with one loser and one winner; instead, they can actually end in friendship, or at least mutual respect. You won’t necessarily be best friends with the people that you compete with, but having two (or more) hard workers who compete regularly to put their best work forward can learn to appreciate each other, and even work together.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Competition encourages you to try new things

It’s easy to be complacent if you believe that your job is completely secure and that there is no one who could do your job any better than you. However, when you are faced with people who are as skilled as you are (or more skilled), it forces you to take risks and try new things. If you want to succeed when there are multiple talented people, you have to get out of your comfort zone. This means that not only will you work harder, but you may be more willing to come up with innovative ideas, and even go outside of your job duties. In the end, the competition you experience and the new things you try because of it may lead to a better job. It’s easy to get comfortable in a position, and a little competition can stop you from getting lazy or bored, according to US News & World Report.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. Competition encourages teamwork

Too much competition can hinder teamwork, but a little healthy competition can actually encourage workers to come together to get things done. Especially if there are rewards involved, sometimes competition can actually bring people together. If your boss assigns three different teams to come up with a proposal for an idea and the reward is a big one, your team might feel the pressure to come up with quality ideas. Even if the reward is just recognition from your boss, that alone can be a great incentive. The same is true when you are working toward a bigger goal like acquiring a new client. You and another employee might get together to beat out another company that is competing for the same business you are.

Competition can definitely hurt a company if it becomes too anger-based or if someone’s job is in serious jeopardy. However, there are many cases when competition really can improve the workplace atmosphere, because it can encourage employees to do their best.

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