From the Blog:

Is competition really healthy? 3 ways to do it right

A little competition can go a long way in motivating your team. In fact, 51.2 percent of organizations we surveyed in our State of Workplace Well-being report said they use competitive team challenges in their programs to boost interest and participation.

But what happens when competition stops being healthy? If it gets out of hand, it can create a tense working environment. Another study on workplace wellness found that an alarming 80 percent of respondents would rather work alone because of an unhelpful or hostile work environment.

The truth is, competition works when leaders promote it the right way. Here’s how to harness the positive power of competition in your wellness program.

3 ways to keep competition healthy

1. Make celebrations inclusive

Employees shouldn’t feel like there’s a winner and a loser when it comes to improving health and well-being.

So celebrate together and don’t exclude anyone. Hand out rewards and prizes at an event, and recognize everyone’s participation and achievements with small incentives like water bottles. That way, everyone can come together and enjoy the end to a successful challenge – and still feel encouraged to join the next one.

2) Focus on the larger goals

Remind employees what they’re really working toward – improved personal well-being – so they aren’t hyper-focused on winning.

Encourage employees to track personal goals, progress and achievements in your wellness program. That way, they’re competing with themselves, too. They won’t focus solely on the group competition, and they’ll keep their bigger goals in mind as they join activities.

3) Build supportive teams

At the start of a challenge, ask employees to share their personal goals with the whole team so they can cheer each other on.

Then, it’s less about the competition and more about the social aspect. It becomes fun. Plus, participants who write down and share their goals are 33 percent more successful in achieving them.

It’s an effective strategy – that’s why 38.6 percent of organizations we surveyed in our State of Workplace Well-being report said they use social sharing in their wellness programs. Social platforms allow employees to share their goals and support their peers. You can create groups for specific challenges so participants can report their progress, ask and offer advice, and keep each other motivated.

The key to inspiring healthy competition in your wellness program? Keep it fun and supportive for everyone.

We’d love to know what types of team challenges and competitions you use in your program. Share in the comments below!