Contests at work are becoming more and more popular and they play a very important role: they build teams. Joint participation in initiatives organised by the company creates its organisational culture and a sense of unity. Therefore, what lies behind the phenomenon of voluntary contests for those who partake in the company life? What form should contests have to engage a wide range of employees?
// Who needs a contest?
Among work incentives there are: sports and wellness programmes or private medical packages, or… contests. The latter are a perfect response to the need for team building and raising the sense of identity with the organisation. We take part in an event together, we discuss a common issue, whether on a daily basis we cooperate with each other or not.
Contest organisation faces some challenges. Undoubtedly, one of them is the very form of the contest. It will always enjoy support and suffer opposition at the same time. Every community may be divided into those who are keen on participation in contests – often without regard to their theme; into those who are active only selectively; as well as those who display downright dislike to such ventures.
// Better to ask the way than to go astray
Bearing in mind the key coaching principle, you may say: ask and get the answers. What is undervalued is the method of enquiring into employees requirements from new forms of team-building ideas. You must keep your eyes open as people from the organisation are the best source of ideas. Everyone will have a suggestion and some of them may prove unconventional or far from the mainstream. But remember: the more ideas, the bigger choice.
The right place, the right time
It is not unusual that a generally known event serves as an excellent pretext for organisation of a contest. A good case in point is betting on the scores of World Cup matches. Opportunity makes the contest, especially with quite a lot of employees being interested in world championships. In order to reduce the amount of resources you will need, it would be beneficial to take advantage of the ready-to-use applications for betting on sports results. You can also create a customised application – it will be an extra team-building element if you engage in this venture representatives of a few company departments.
// Idea is the key, not the budget
Every activity entails some costs. However, you should realize that the preparation of a successful in-house contest does not necessitate a huge budget. The key is in the idea and a creative approach to resources. For example, organising a contest for the best holiday photo means very small expenditures on the part of the company. The winner may be awarded with, let’s say, an opportunity to exhibit his/her photos or to see a large size printout of the winning photo hanging in the office. The prize does not need to be costly to be of some value to a passionate photographer, in this case.
A contest will fail unless it attracts a group of enthusiastic people. What’s more, a funny T-shirt or a cup as a token gift may give participants extra pleasure.
Variety is welcome
No one likes boredom. That’s why there must be some variety added each time to the formula, even if it applies to the same activities. A sports contest organised for another time would be better with a focus on another sport discipline or with a changed form, for instance due to another season of the year. A novel element may act as an encouragement to participate as it may motivate someone to test themselves in other circumstances. And the more so when all safety precautions are implemented, because a contest is supposed to be sheer fun and as such it should be promoted. Variety may also apply to the line-up of contestants.
At work or after hours?
An in-house contest may well be organised after hours. What about the collection of plastic bottle caps where the heaviest individual collection wins? In this pretty simple way the company will not only donate the money from the sale of the caps to a specific charity organisation but it will also define some common objective by the way. What’s more, the right channelling of information related to this topic may cause positive changes in employees, making their habits and attitudes more environment-friendly.
Keys to success
Voluntary participation is a prerequisite for an enjoyable contest. What else should you do to ensure the highest attendance possible? Can you organise an event which will be to the majority’s liking? Judging from my experience, it is worth making a short staff survey on this topic. Let’s ask those concerned what contest formula and theme would suit them best. You can ask a closed question, with options such as: sports, film, music, etc. By the way, maybe it would be good to check if in your organisation competition in small groups gives more fun, when the goal is not to land high in an individual ranking but to meet some collective target, e.g. number of kilometres? In every company this form of team building will be of another nature and will proceed differently.
// The more often, the better?
Dosing is a good practice, which applies to contests as well. Organisation of one or two events of this kind per year is a great achievement. Only by proper dosing of rivalry will some spice be added to the daily routine of a particular community and will the relations between its members improve. That’s why working on the schedule of annual activities consider not only team-building events but also contests. You don’t need a detailed plan; neither must you inscribe them once and for, long in advance in the calendar. It happens that out of the blue either you will have a brainwave or an employee will come up with some excellent idea.
Contests are gaining in popularity. They are a pleasant benefit for volunteering participants. If well-designed, they may meet a lot of company’s needs, forge relations, foster active lifestyle, promote ecology or culture. Variety of forms is advisable, as more people are likely to be satisfied. The prize is not necessarily the biggest bait – it is just a nice form of distinction or acknowledgement. Unquestionably, contests are a good practice providing a massive amount of experiences and memories – and that Is what makes the team, isn’t it?