Workplace Competition Ideas

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Workplace competitions can do anything from making employees more competitive when it comes to reaching their sales numbers to motivating workers to remember safety rules in the office. They can help everyone destress at the end of a hard week or get departments to learn to work together more effectively. Workplace contest ideas will vary a lot depending on the end goal of the competition, but the bottom line is that they should be rewarding (either thanks to prizes or because they're fun), or your employees won't care much about them in the first place.

The Egg Drop

Want to improve problem solving and get your employees thinking more creatively? Then consider hosting an egg drop contest. Give each team supplies like newspaper, tape, glue, cardboard, Popsicle sticks and cotton balls and tell them they have 20 minutes to design an egg holder that can safely catch an egg dropped from the air.

Start by dropping the egg from 2 feet in the air and then drop the egg from 3 feet in the air onto all the surviving egg holders. Keep going up 1 foot at a time until every egg holder fails, and the team who made the one that safely caught the egg from the highest dropping point is the winner. In the case of a tie, you can declare the team who uses fewer supplies or has a lighter holder as the winner.

The Communication Minefield

If you're looking for office competition ideas that boost teamwork and communication, it's hard to go wrong with the communication minefield. In this game, your group is broken into teams of two. One person is blindfolded and then the group builds a "minefield" in front of him with paper plates, pieces of paper, traffic cones and whatever you can find that's low to the ground, not breakable and not dangerous to the person navigating the minefield.

Next, the other person in the team has to guide that person through the minefield using only the words "forward, backward, right and left." The team that makes it through the minefield in the shortest amount of time wins.

To up the difficulty, you may try making the teams a little bigger and having the guide try to guide more than one person out of the minefield at once by allowing him to also use the names of his blindfolded teammates to help single out who should follow his directions at which times.

The Winding Snake

Like the minefield, this game focuses on improving teamwork, only in this case, there's no talking allowed. Start by breaking your group into equal-sized teams of four or more and ask them to stand in a line. Each team will go one at a time, so the team that goes first needs to have everyone but the person in the back of the line put on a blindfold. Then, the manager needs to put out buckets equal to the number of people in the team and the same number of small objects, like pen boxes, notepads, etc.

Next, everyone on the team that is going first needs to put her hands on the shoulders of the person in front of her. The person in the back who isn't blindfolded must guide her team by pulling on the right, the left or both shoulders of the person in front of her, and when a person feels her shoulder pulled, she pulls on the person in front of her until the person in the front turns right, left or stops. The person in the back must guide her team to the small object. The person up front must pick it up and then be guided to a bucket, where the item is deposited.

Once the item is dropped in the bucket, the person in the front must move to the back, and the blindfold is handed to the person before her, who was in the back. The team must cycle through positions until all items have been picked up, and each person has been in the back position at least once. The team that takes the least amount of time to pick up all items wins.

Flash Workplace Contest Ideas

Your company probably has a mission statement, perhaps even a set of company values, and you likely have a mental image of how an employee would ideally fulfill that mission or those values. Unfortunately, it can be hard to see your staff actually meet these lofty expectations while they sit typing on computers. That's why you might consider workplace competition ideas that ask employees to tell you how they have served your company.

One great way to do this is to offer flash contests that get workers thinking about your company's code of ethics, values or mission statement. Send out prompts once or twice a month asking them to send a story of when they made a client's problem into an opportunity for the business, went above and beyond for a customer, best demonstrated the company mission statement at work, etc. Try to ensure that your winners are telling the truth if it's possible to validate their stories, as you want to reward actual behaviors, not fictional stories.

Weekly Safety Raffles

It can be hard to make employees enthusiastic about safety, but it's important that they know how to maintain a safe workplace and what to do in case of emergency. To make remembering the rules more fun, consider hosting a safety raffle every week. You can give a gift card, a small bonus, the chance to leave work early one day, a paid lunch or any number of other prizes. Get creative.

Just post a safety rule or slogan in the break room on Monday and tell employees they have until Friday to remember it and if they do, they may be rewarded. On Friday, take down your break room notice and throughout the day, ask employees what the message was. If they answer correctly, give them a raffle ticket. At the end of the day, pull a winner from all the raffle tickets and congratulate that employee on his safety knowledge in front of everyone else.

One company who implemented this system said their number of workplace accidents dropped 50 percent after one year.

Sales Contest Ideas

In companies with salespeople, contests can always provide motivation to increase sales. While many companies offer prizes to the salesperson with the biggest sales after a set period, sometimes the winner just happens to get lucky and have one huge sale that puts her ahead of the pack. Instead, you might consider asking employees to push a particular product with a high profit margin or to sell a combination of items in a single order. This way, you have a better gauge of who is really good at sales and who just gets lucky.

You can run these contests by rewarding the first salesperson to sell the item or combo of items or the person who sells the most of them in a set time. You can also give employees an entry into a raffle every time they make the right sale. One great thing about these contests is that they can work for all types of salespeople, ranging from insurance salespeople (ask them to sell a particular plan or get people to bundle life and home insurance) to waiters (get them to push the stuffed mushrooms or to sell the cheese plate, sirloin and peach cobbler all on one check).

Employee Sports Contests

Workplace competitions can also be used to improve overall employee wellness. Sports contests are a great way to do this, as they also encourage teamwork. Just break your company into teams, preferably organized by department, and then hold a round robin tournament until only one team is left standing.

The sport itself doesn't matter as long as the majority of your employees enjoy it, so choose basketball, soccer, baseball or even mini golf. Since you probably won't want to have any team play more than once a day, expect your tournament to last a month or more depending on how many employees you have in your company.

Employee Trivia Night

Do you have employees who prefer mental pursuits to physical ones? Then consider organizing an employee trivia night, mixing in company and industry trivia with more typical trivia questions. Organize teams by department and offer either a catered lunch for the winning group or a half day at the end of the week. This is a great contest idea because you not only build friendships in each department, but you can also get employees to think about company and industry matters like safety procedures, product lines or company values.

Award one point per question answered and then have a sudden death round with particularly challenging questions for the two highest-scoring teams at the end.

Break Room Cooking Contest

Need to help destress everyone quickly? Host an impromptu cooking contest where they can only use food and cooking tools available in the break room. Have the manager serve as the judge, understanding that many entries made from nondairy creamer, pretzels and oatmeal aren't exactly going to be five-star dishes.

"Eat Poop, You Cat"

If you want to improve employee morale and decrease stress, you might try hosting fun games in the office on Fridays. "Eat Poop, You Cat" is a very strangely named game that is utterly hilarious, combining elements of Pictionary and telephone. It also illustrates the importance of clear and concise communication.

To play, start by seating everyone around a table with a pencil and a piece of paper. Ask each person to write a phrase on the top of his paper and then pass it to the left. Each person draws a picture based on the phrase on the new piece of paper and then folds the paper so the phrase is no longer visible and passes it to the left again. The next person must then write a phrase based on what he thinks the picture is trying to communicate before folding the paper so the drawing is covered and then passing it to the left again.

Employees keep passing the papers to the left, drawing new pictures and writing new slogans before covering up the previous one until the papers make it all the way around the circle to the person who wrote the original phrase. Then, open the whole thing and crack up at what strange turns the phrases and pictures took. To add a little competition to this game, you can say that the winner will be the person whose phrase stayed more or less the same for the longest time, which will also get people to think about how to make a phrase that will not easily lose its meaning after being drawn and translated again and again.

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About the Author

Jill Harness is a blogger with experience researching and writing on all types of subjects including business topics. She specializes in writing SEO content for private clients, particularly attorneys. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.