Executives Say Workplace Competition Has Increased Over the Past Decade

MENLO PARK, CA -- If a colleague does a fantastic job on a report, do you feel you must turn in an even better one? You're not alone. More than half (55 percent) of executives surveyed recently said competition among coworkers is more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago.

Accountemps, the world's first and largest temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, developed the survey. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Survey participants were asked, "In your opinion, are employees today more competitive or less competitive with their coworkers than they were 10 years ago?" Their responses:

Significantly more competitive 12%
Somewhat more competitive 43%
No change 26%
Somewhat less competitive 15%
Significantly less competitive 3%
Don't know     1%

"Friendly competition can be healthy and can help boost productivity," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For Dummies® (Hungry Minds, Inc.). "But managers should avoid creating an atmosphere in which employees feel pressure to outperform at the expense of others and the company.

"Workplace rivalries interfere with team results because personal agendas get in the way of group goals," Messmer said. "Fostering a collaborative environment begins with establishing trust and a common purpose among coworkers."

He offers these suggestions to managers:

  • Assess your corporate culture. Determine whether internal competition is at a healthy level or is hindering productivity. Ensure that promotions are clearly related to performance and not politics.
  • Reward team as well as individual results. Recognizing group contributions emphasizes the importance of cooperation. Keep an eye out for "unsung heroes," those who contribute significantly but are reluctant to toot their own horns.
  • Avoid creating the "lone superstar." Today's workplace is increasingly dependent on cross-functional work groups. Top individual performers should also be able to successfully partner with others.

Accountemps has more than 320 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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