How Successful Hackathons Increase Belonging, Reduce Anxiety, and Create New Self-Concepts for Future Skill Growth
Author: Carol Lee, PhD & Cat Hicks, PhD | Read time: ~ 17 mins
This research brief summarizes a case study on the impact of hackathons on 64 employees participating in a corporate hackathon at Pluralsight.
1. Hackathons decrease anxiety and increase belonging
Using empirical measures of anxiety and perceptions of belonging, we found that simply participating in a hackathon can decrease participants’ skill-related anxiety and significantly increase their sense of belonging in their workplace communities.
2. Many people come to hackathons with existing anxieties that can impact their success.
Greater pre-event anxiety decreases the likelihood of achieving success on both tangible and intangible outcomes. Mitigating pre-event anxiety is an important concern for organizational leaders, especially because it disproportionately impacts minoritized and early career developers.
3. Teams can change the likelihood of success
Even if you come to a hackathon with a high level of anxiety, a hackathon team with a strong sense of belonging and learning culture can mitigate the negative impacts of that anxiety, and enable both high and low-anxiety individuals to achieve success.
4. Hackathons as social interventions
Our findings suggest that internal hackathons can serve as a compelling lightweight-but-effective social intervention to motivate employees’ positive skill-related beliefs and learning at work. To run successful hackathons, organizers should focus on creating team practices of learning and belonging. Leaders and managers should take advantage of the power of exploratory and novel learning experiences like hackathons, and create time and resources for teams to invest in them.
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