by Ajay Shah
You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.
Hyper competition, a state of increased competitiveness among peers has been witnessing much prominence in the industry of late. This has changed the dynamics of the workforce, thereby affecting how businesses operate. For India to build a more robust and healthy workforce in the future, it is imperative that employees have a balanced relationship with co-workers and the working environment is conducive and productive.
The main problem being faced by Indian companies today is talent acquisition and retention. Attrition has been increasing every year across industries, which is marginally higher than many other countries. There is an evident shift in the generation of the workforce. Baby boomers are retiring and being replaced by the millennial generation. Today, millennials look out for job satisfaction as the primary motivator rather than job security. In this scenario it is important that the working environment is healthy and supportive of the employee’s growth.
Competition amongst the employees is a part of every workspace; where a dynamic is created in which employees compete against each other for recognition, remunerations, bonuses, and promotions. The tradition of competitiveness originated from the desire to motivate employees and make them put in more efforts in achieving results. It helped increase both physiological and psychological activation, preparing the body and mind to push boundaries and achieve higher performance. But over time competitive behaviour has changed drastically. It has become more aggressive and hyper, therefore negatively affecting the morale of the workforce. It has been resulting in reduced productivity, high attrition and dissatisfied employees. This raises the major question: when does competitive spirit become unhealthy?
Hyper-competitiveness has affected the working ecosystem very drastically. It has turned ‘Monday blues’ into ‘throughout-the-week’ dissatisfaction. Employees have become more aggressive, often forgetting the fine line between competition and insecure behaviour. This is causing hostility in the system, thereby affecting the overall performance of teams in the organisation. Often to pacify this increased competitive spirit in them, employees overtly put high working hours, which affects their personal life and causes a depressive situation for them This makes for a toxic work environment in which personal achievement takes the centrestage, overall team dynamics are affected adversely and there is drop in client satisfaction.
Modern professionals are constantly overdoing, beyond what’s healthy for them. Consequently, they become hyper-competent, hyper-productive, and hyper-accountable. It also leads to a workaholic over-doing attitude with “all work and no fun” environment. According to global statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “The average Indian worker puts in 40.5 hours per week, which is more than any western country”. These long hours have been linked to a variety of health issues, especially heart strokes, brain haemorrhage, acute depression, etc. Employees often resort to ‘many’ alternatives for reducing pressure, the majority of which is harmful to their well-being. The stakes of hyper-responsibility and over-empowerment are dangerously high at times.
Leaders and organisations need to strongly focus on defining an ideal scope of competitiveness. The focus should be on creating an ‘ideal-supportive-collaborative’ working environment, enabling employees to reach extended success without adversely affecting their careers. How leaders encourage their employees, plays a big part in how employees use their strengths to benefit themselves and their company. When policies elicit excitement, employees are significantly more likely to use creativity but when it evokes anxiety, they are more likely to cut corners or sabotage their colleagues or themselves.
Competition will always be an inescapable part of any workforce and every employee’s life. Balanced and monitored competition will always pave the way for improved performance and higher productivity. Leaders need to ensure that competition unleashes creativity and not unethical behaviour! Organizations and leaders must lead by example and support and not fear!
Ajay Shah is the Vice-President of Recruitment services at TeamLease, India’s leading recruitment and online job portal.