Skip to Main Content

Inside IMA

Game On! Improving Employee Performance through Tournament Design

More than 33% of companies use some form of tournament to improve employee performance. But, are they truly getting the best results from the tournaments?

That is the question researchers explored in the new report, Improving Employee Performance through Tournament Design, sponsored by the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Research Foundation. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of tournament design on the company’s success.

Hosting tournaments and sales contests among employees is a common and effective organizational tool utilized by management. Besides increasing sales, tournaments can also be used to increase product innovation. However, not all tournaments are designed the same; and, not all tournaments yield the same performance improvements.

Key findings within the report include:

  • Overall, groups of individuals with similar ability outperform groups with varied ability.
  • When larger but infrequent rewards (for example, yearly) are provided, groups of individuals with similar ability outperformed groups of individuals with varied ability.
  • When smaller but frequent rewards (for example, monthly or quarterly) are provided, there is no performance difference between groups of similar or varied-ability individuals.
The results of this study have implications for managers who are interested in maximizing the success of incentivized employee tournaments. Further, the report provides managers with recommendations on how to best improve tournament success.

Please visit the following webpage to access the full report: Improving Employee Performance through Tournament Design. To view additional C-Suite reports about performance measurement, incentives and alignment, visit IMA’s website at https://www.imanet.org/insights-and-trends?ssopc=1.