How to Organise Contests Among Company Employees

According to Geoffrey James, Contributing Editor at, the term gamification (or “game-like competition”) provides the opportunity for employees to find ways to solve problems, increase the depth of their individual contribution to the workplace, and cultivate a deeper sense of loyalty on the team. Mr. James advised that this term is not new and the idea of gamification has been utilised for decades. However, in recent years, some companies have been formalising the gamification process to cultivate new positive and efficient behaviors, which assist the team dynamic in achieving great accomplishments for the company or organisation. This article will address steps to take on how management can organise contests among company employees.

Organisational Process to Implement

There are several steps that management can take to create a process that can be implemented smoothly into the workplace setting. In a recent article, Mr. James discussed some techniques which can assist in the implementation process. Those steps are listed below.

1. Implement the Process Strategically

It is important to have a strategic process that will be implemented. Hosting a contest in the workplace has a greater purpose than simply having a good time. Mr. James advised that, “The larger purpose is to create better results by changing the behavior or individuals and teams.” As management implements the process, this key purpose must be kept in mind at all times.

2. Team vs. Individual Contests

Mr. James advised that holding team contests reap more rewards than individual contests. The basic reasoning behind his theory is that team contests create an opportunity for employees to constructively push and rely on each other. This factor generally brings the employees closer together and cultivates camaraderie while reaping great results for the company. Individual events are not as effective at building that positive team dynamic.

3. Design a Variety of Ways to Succeed

Another important factor is to design a variety of ways for employees to succeed in the contests and win. Mr. James suggested that “when you only have one way to win the contest, some players inevitably fall behind or out of contention.” His theory is that when management creates a variety of ways for individuals to win, the team dynamic is cemented and employees remain engaged for a longer period of time.

4. Begin the Contest with a Kickoff Event

A successful contest begins with hosting a kickoff event. Mr. James advised that announcing the contest via email is not going to engage the employees enough to garner the appropriate amount of excitement that is needed. His suggestion is that management holds a kickoff event which details all of the contest rules and its purpose, while also announcing the prizes. If management can show enthusiasm for the contest, it will be contagious and spread among the employees.

5. Short-term vs. Long-term Contests

Opting for short-term contests will work out better than holding long-term ones. Mr. James advised that, “keeping each contest short-term allows you to change the structure, metrics, prizes and so forth in order to keep things fresh.” It is important to keep the details fresh so that the employees remain engaged in the current as well as ensuing contests.

6. Design Creative Prizes

In order for employees to stay engaged in the contest process, Mr. James advised that management should design creative prizes. The employees will then have a desire to actually participate and strive to do their best to win the prize. Remember to design the prizes around your budget. According to Mr. James, “Low cost prizes can be as effective as luxury items or cash.” The cost of the prize should reflect how much is allotted in your budget since going over budget on prizes would be counter-productive to the original purpose of the contest—cultivating sales goals for company-wide success. Mr. James suggests prizes ranging from trophies to an assigned parking space to a day off.

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7. Monitor the Results Efficiently

The final step involves a process of efficiently monitoring the results of the contest. Management should frequently update the results and advise the team members of the status. According to Mr. James, this updating “engages teams more fully when the results are updated frequently.” He suggests that the results can be related to other measurable data such as a CRM pipeline. These results should be highly visible so that the team members stay engaged and work diligently to succeed in the contest. Mr. James suggests utilising an automatic tracking system visible on each employee’s computer or to display leader boards in a high trafficked area in the office such as the lunch or break room. The final factor in this step is to measure all the results and ascertain whether or not the contest proved useful as a motivational tool in the workplace and to increase sales.

The seven steps as outlined in this article and derived from Mr. James’ research will enable management to successfully organise contests among company employees.

Photo Credit: Incentive Talk




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