Staff try harder in a competitive climate

Employees are more likely to ‘go the extra mile’ if they compare their workplace to other organisations, according to a report from German psychologists.

Rolf Van Dick, of Aston University, and colleagues at Philipps-University Marburg in Germany, questioned 464 teachers in German elementary and secondary high schools to assess how much effort the teachers thought they put into their jobs.

The researchers found that teachers were more likely to demonstrate solidarity with their work colleagues when a competitive climate was created between their profession and another similar profession.

So when the teachers were asked to compare school teachers and kindergarten educators they said teachers put more effort into their jobs.

The researchers also found the teachers were more likely to say they were willing to go the extra mile and work for their school more than is absolutely necessary when they were asked to compare their school to a specifically different school.

“Organisations can increase employees’ identification with their organisation if they emphasise specific other organisations for comparison,” Van Dick said.

“This could happen on an inter-organisational level but also within organisations by introducing benchmarking for different teams.”

Van Dick said the results support the idea that social identity is important in business settings and believes the study has implications not just for the teaching profession but for the entire work market.

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