Some things never change. You can employ every generation in the workforce and despite their many differences, they’ll have one thing in common. Lack of motivation and the need for some stimulation to keep them going at work.

If you’ve worked in workforce management or HR for more than a few days, you probably already know that competitions and incentivized events or programs are a huge asset to your employee engagement arsenal. This is where the generational differences become apparent in your team. What appeals to your Millennial employees might not drive your Generation X employees.

Figuring out a way to appeal to everyone is tough enough, but now Generation Z is entering the workforce, and they’re a whole new group to engage!

The youngest cohort of employees have grown up in a completely digital age, and were firsthand witnesses to the great recession and student loan crisis.

Unlike Millennials, who thrive on collaborative efforts, Gen Zers are incredibly competitive and like to be the top contender in the workplace. This trait can be tricky when you’re trying to build a team atmosphere, but when harnessed correctly, competition can be a great driving force of productivity.

Implement Leaderboards

Members of Generation Z are extremely accustomed to the ability to keep tabs on their competition. Keeping eyes on their competition and being recognized when they’re on top will be a huge driving factor for Gen Z employees.

Remember to use caution when implementing leaderboards. While the drive to be in first place can be positive, the same people always staying in the top slots can be frustrating for employees who feel like they don’t measure up. The leaderboard can also be a source of embarrassment for those who find themselves on the bottom. Consider only displaying the top 5 of the leaderboard publicly and switching up the metric used to keep things fresh and even the playing field.

Raise the Stakes

The satisfaction of a job well done is great, but Gen Z employees live in a world that is full of extras. To peak their interest in a competition, try adding a prize that is a tangible good – or better yet, offer extra time off or a flexible schedule day. Research shows that workplace flexibility is becoming the most sought after benefit of Gen Z job hunters. Leveraging this to your advantage by offering a valuable reward helps to peak interest in performance competitions.

Get Out of the Office

Gen Z employees place a lot of value in a workplace that cares about their physical and mental health as much as it cares about their performance. Implementing a competition for employees like a 5k or obstacle course is great for team building and provides Gen Z employees with the enrichment they crave from their employer.

Workplace competitions can be great for morale and performance, but employers need to walk a fine-line to avoid frustration and negative impacts. Especially with the increase of Gen Z in the workplace, competitions can be harnessed for good now more than ever. Try easing your employees into more high-stakes performance driving competitions by starting with fun and lighthearted contests. This will help to establish a friendly feud instead of a culture of frustration and embarrassment.

Get Festive

It might seem cheesy, but a fun event can bring a team together! It’s not uncommon for Gen Zers to lack in-person social skills, yet they typically crave teamwork and collaboration (unlike their millennial predecessors). Providing a themed party or day at the office that includes a non-performance related competition is a great way to set the tone for future workplace competitions.

Try easing your team into a competition with something like a desk decorating competition or a breakroom cook-off. Something fun yet competitive will help to open up the avenue to friendly competition for your team.

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