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Competition in the workplace can be a driving force for productivity, innovation and growth. Healthy competition encourages employees to strive for excellence and achieve their goals. However, competition can also turn toxic if it’s not managed correctly. Toxic competitiveness in the workplace can lead to staff feeling depressed, resentful and self serving. It’s essential for businesses to get the right balance between healthy competition and unhealthy competition.

Building positive competition at work

1. Set clear goals and expectations

Clearly define what the team and individual goals are, and communicate the expectations for achieving them. This helps employees to focus their efforts and develop a sense of purpose. When everyone knows what they’re working towards, they can compete in a healthy way to achieve those goals.

2. Encourage collaboration

In a highly competitive environment if employees are not working together then they’re often working against one another. When employees feel threatened, they might resort to undermining their colleagues’ efforts to get ahead. This can create a negative environment where people are more focused on tearing others down than achieving their own goals.

While competition can be healthy, it’s important to balance it with collaboration. Encourage employees to exchange ideas, provide feedback, and work together to solve problems. This creates a supportive environment where employees can help each other to grow and succeed.

3. Celebrate Achievements

Positive reinforcement can go a long way in promoting healthy competition. Celebrate when employees achieve their goals or go above and beyond their duties. This recognition fosters a sense of accomplishment and motivates employees to continue striving for excellence.

4. Focus on employee wellbeing

Some industries are more competitive by nature than others. Take for instances sales, as this Forbes piece referenced, “an article for Business Leader, Raiys, a U.K. based app, found that anxiety and depression among salespeople are three times higher than in any other profession.” If employees job satisfaction is completely tied to hitting KPI’s then there is a significant mental health risk when they’re not hitting their targets.

5. Incentivise team goals.

Healthy competition can drive growth and success, but it should never come at the expense of teamwork. Businesses should create strong employee collaboration through shared goals with incentives. Employees need to feel that their efforts are valued and that the organisation cares about their contributions.