To Play, or Not to Play?

Contests in the workplace are nothing new. In an appropriate setting, they can be an effective tool to motivate employees. However, not all forms of competition are suited for the workplace. Here are a few successful, and not-so-successful, attempts to motivate employees.

Rock Star Contest vs. Pink Slip Contest. The Battle of the Corporate Bands competition is an event that gives 8 bands, each sponsored by its own organization, the chance to play at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The sponsors report that the rock competition increases employee morale and productivity.


While it’s good to get employees’ input on management decisions, publicly announcing a contest on which employee should be fired, has “bad idea” written all over it. However, one convenience store owner allegedly sent a memo to employees that included an announcement: “New Contest—Guess the Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!”

Training New Hires vs. Betting on New Hires. Many restaurants have embraced technology as a training tool, especially for younger employees. Japan McDonald’s® introduced Nintendo DSi into their training program. In a similar approach, a pizza chain started using iPads to train workers on a multitude of tasks, from how to flip a pizza to how to interact with customers.


HRSBT readers had some interesting stories about betting on fellow employees. One reader told us about a colleague who started a squares pool with the names of ten of the newer engineers and the next ten weekending dates, effectively betting on who would be fired first. The project manager not only knew about the betting but also bought a few squares!

Getting Fit vs. Getting Physical. Gamification has been a successful tool in promoting health and wellness. One company, Keas, combines elements from social media and online games to get employees addicted to changing their behavior and getting healthy, according to the website.


The controversy stemming from an investigation into the New Orleans Saints is still unfolding. Several members of the football team, both in management and on the field, are accused of participating in a bounty system, where players were rewarded with money for injuring members of the opposing team.

What’s the strangest office contest you’ve participated in or heard about?

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