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How to Encourage Healthy Competition Among Employees in the Workplace


Healthy competition among employees is an effective way to motivate your team to reach their full potential. Internal Competition in organizations, leads to improved individual and team performance while at the same time, fostering a culture of innovation. However, ensuring that the competition remains productive and does not create a toxic environment is essential. This blog provides practical tips on how to promote healthy competition among employees in the workplace and advice on how to keep it constructive. Let’s get started!

What is competition among employees?

Competition among employees in the workplace involves close collaboration where coworkers compete for recognition, bonuses, or promotions. This approach effectively motivates employees to improve their professional skills, enhance teamwork, and boost morale. In addition, competition can also enhance organizational synergy and gamify workplace processes such as sales, customer satisfaction, and quality assurance; leading to improved business outcomes. 

What is Workplace Gamification?

Workplace gamification involves incorporating game mechanics into non-game environments such as business processes, systems, or operations. The objective is to engage consumers, employees, and stakeholders, in ways that promote innovation, idea-sharing, and performance improvement.

Why is competition among employees helpful in the workplace?

Workplace competition helps to clarify employee expectations ensuring that individual and team efforts are aligned. Moreover, competitive work environments fuel creativity and productivity, generating higher-quality work outcomes. For instance, the motive to win facilitates individual and team innovation, encouraging employees to consider wide-ranging solutions to organizational problems. This work environment pushes personal and group boundaries to the next level and allows creative energies to assert themselves.

Data Insights Regarding Competitive Work Environments

  • 40% of survey respondents rated their workplaces as having high levels of employee rivalry (CoreVales)
  • 73% of respondents have a workplace rival with one or more coworkers (CoreValues)
  • Over 50% of workers in the US believe that competition among colleagues motivates them to perform better at their job (ProDoScore)
  • 67% of the 1,000 respondents in the study across different industries were interested in how they compare to their colleagues. (ProDoScore)

Fostering Healthy Competition Among Employees – Best Practices 

Use Goals to Foster Internal Competition

Setting goals communicates expectations and helps employees understand how their duties impact their organization. Moreover, it is an effective way to encourage internal employee competition. Using goals to promote internal competition means company leadership should:

  • Encourage employees to track their progress towards these goals and offer rewards for achieving them.
  • Provide regular feedback on their progress and recognize those who perform exceptionally well.
  • Hold regular team meetings to discuss progress, share best practices, and set new goals.

By creating a culture of goal-setting and achievement, management can foster healthy internal competition that benefits both the employees and the company. 

Blocks of two team

Implement Team-based competition

Team-based competitions can be an effective way to foster internal employee competition. Teams can be formed based on departments, projects, or goals. The competition can be designed to encourage teamwork, collaboration, or individual accountability. For instance, set team-based goals and objectives that must be achieved within a specific timeframe. These goals, such as sales targets or project milestones, can be clear and measurable. When implementing Team-based competition, managers must:

  • Encourage teams to track their progress and celebrate their achievements along the way.
  • Consider offering rewards or recognition for the winning team or individual team members to incentivize healthy competition.
  • Establish clear guidelines and rules for the competition to ensure fairness and transparency for all teams and team members involved.

This approach can create a sense of camaraderie and motivate employees to work together to achieve shared goals. 

Use Competition to Encourage Self-Improvement

Individuals who compete with themselves have a healthy drive to improve their past performance, set bigger goals, and accomplish more. Management can foster this self-improvement by challenging employees with tasks that provide a real sense of stimulation rather than mundane ones. When implementing self-improvement programs, management should:

  • Provide resources for self-improvement, such as training programs or educational materials.
  • Set measurable and attainable goals for each employee to work towards.
  • Regularly check in with employees to provide feedback and encouragement toward their self-improvement goals.

Organizations can help employees reach their full potential by promoting self-competition while driving positive business outcomes. 

Recognize Employee Achievements

Acknowledge and reward the team and individual achievements. Publicly recognizing and rewarding outstanding performance can motivate employees to put in more effort and contribute more to the team. Consider the following best practices:

  • Implement a formal recognition program that rewards employees for their achievements.
  • Encourage open communication and feedback between managers and employees to stay informed about their progress and successes.
  • Create a culture that values and celebrates employee achievement through public recognition during team meetings, social media, or company-wide newsletters.

By acknowledging and rewarding individual and team achievements, companies can create a positive work environment that encourages employees to put in more effort and take pride in their work.

Do’s & Don’ts of Internal Competition

Workplace competitiveness can spur high performance and innovation but can also turn toxic and lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and high turnover. Thus, it is critical to remember that competition affects employees differently, with some becoming disengaged and others motivated. Consider the following Do’s and Don’ts when implementing workplace competition: 


  • Reward those who achieve their targets
  • Encourage employees to use their strengths to reach their goals
  • Emphasize how competition benefits customers and the company
  • Provide different competition levels for a fair playing field
  • Set targets based on individual or departmental improvement
  • Foster a positive sales culture by discussing successes and failures constructively 


  • Avoid humiliating employees who don’t meet their goals
  • Don’t pit high-performing employees against lower-performing ones
  • Don’t threaten to take away from employees who don’t meet their goals
  • Avoid a zero-sum approach with clear winners and losers
  • Don’t hold individual competitions when collaboration is necessary
  • Don’t tolerate bullying or trash-talking in the workplace

Promoting healthy competition among employees can significantly enhance individual and team performance while fostering a culture of innovation. By implementing practical tips such as setting clear goals, encouraging team-based competition, promoting self-improvement, and recognizing employee achievements, companies can create a positive work environment that benefits both employees and the organization. However, managers must be aware that competition can lead to toxicity if not closely monitored. By keeping competition constructive, organizations can foster a dynamic and productive work culture that helps employees and organizations reach their full potential.

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