Guest Column - March/April 2015

Friendly Competition

How the Competitive Nature of March Madness Can Transform Your Company

By Paul Gordon


The incentive industry is thriving as organizations, now more than ever before, understand the importance of rewards and recognition in employee performance and motivation. However, most organizations do not correctly structure their engagement program to meet the behavioral needs of their employees. Business leaders trying to drive high performance from their employees are faced with the question, "How do I increase employee engagement?" As the thrill for competition during March Madness is under way, apply the same competitive drive to your employee recognition program and create friendly competition as a form of engagement for long-term motivation and success.

With 67 games jammed into 21 days, March Madness is the quintessential example of people's love and craving for competitive behavior. According to market research, last year an estimated 50 million employees participated in office Sweet Sixteen pools. They found that the excitement and competitiveness of March Madness created a higher level of retention within the office than actual work responsibilities. If that drive and passion were applied to a company's recognition program, the performance level that could be achieved could be a game changer to an organization's overall success.

Prior to March Madness, basketball enthusiasts intensely study teams, research players and plan their dream Sweet Sixteen bracket. They watch every game, sweat when their team is down and celebrate their victories.

Designing an employee loyalty and reward program is not much different. Incentive companies specialize in designing programs by consulting with clients on a one-on-one basis in order to grasp a better understanding of their overall goals and company objectives. They research the organization's geographical behaviors, study employees' psychographic profiles and develop segmented tools to target goals and associated rewards to meet demographic needs. By understanding the behavior of employees and the goals the company wants to achieve, including employee training initiatives, incentive specialists can utilize friendly competition initiatives as a tool to design loyalty programs that drive the behavioral desires of employees to be recognized and awarded for their achievements.

The infamous question, "How do I increase employee engagement?" can be easily answered when competition is implemented into a company's reward and recognition program. Competition gives employees an extra drive to achieve program goals, and friendly office competition is a great motivator. Competition outlines their efforts toward reward, "If I succeed, I will be rewarded and recognized as a vital part in this company."

The infamous question, "How do I increase employee engagement?" can be easily answered when competition is implemented into a company's reward and recognition program.

The value of competition affords a platform for learning and educating employees on company initiatives and earning points toward a reward for them to highlight their strengths and distinguish their weaknesses. Training opportunities also give managers a clear understanding of where their team stands and what they need to do to motivate them toward achieving goals. When in a competition or recognition program where goals and leaders of the competition are clearly defined, the majority of people want to work harder to strive for success, since everyone wants to win. That drive is much higher in a competitive situation rather than a task they have to accomplish with no reward in sight.