Why and How to Encourage Employees to Take Initiative

Organizations are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to motivate employees to take initiative. Employees that take initiative are often more engaged in their day-to-day responsibilities, they feel a larger sense of ownership over their role in an organization, and they can sometimes spearhead innovation in other areas. Encouraging employees to take initiative, though, can be a bit tricky. 

There are many theories on employee motivation. The two that carry the most weight, though, deal with psychological needs of the human being. In this sense, the first and most important aspect of job motivation comes from financial security. This is achieved through fair compensation and benefit packages which allow employees to care for themselves, and their families, without worrying about baseline survival. 

After taking care of employees financially, though, companies need to find additional motivators. 

“With the right attitude, you can create a workplace that is not only fun but comprises hard workers who boost your business and create a positive company culture.”

Jennifer Post, Contributing Writer, Business.com –

An Engaged Workforce is a Better Workforce

There are plenty of reasons that employers want to motivate their workforce. No matter how things played out, an employee that takes initiative is innately more engaged in their work. This is important because it leads to higher levels of productivity, fewer mistakes, and a better job performance overall. 

Not only does job performance and productivity improve alongside a more engaged workforce, but this leads to an employee base that has a better understanding of the business operations as a whole. This granular and detailed level of industry knowledge is what can lead to major innovation in processes, operations, and other areas of business. 

“Some of the best innovations we’ve moved forward came from our ground-level people. These are the workers that see everything. They see all the fallout of the managerial decisions, operational changes, all of that. Their insight can be invaluable at times.”

– John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner, Berry Law

Recognize and Reward Initiative

When it comes to actually fostering a culture of engaged workers who take initiative, these behaviors need to be reinforced from the top. In other words, management needs to buy into the program and create various reward and recognition avenues that continue to drive employees. 

Monetary recognition for a job well done is a great start, as everyone appreciates a bonus. Finding interesting and creative ways to make performance bonuses available is a great way to engage an employee base and get them to start taking initiative in their day-to-day responsibilities.

“I’m always looking for ways to extend additional earning opportunities to my team. I mean outside of their regular salaried paychecks. This gives the fire inside them a little extra fuel and makes them bring their best day-in and day-out.”

– Kevin Miller, Founder, Kevin Miller

Be Open to Innovation at Every Level

This was already touched on a bit earlier, but innovation can come from any level within an organization. In fact, some of the most powerful company innovations come from people on the ground level. This is an important concept for managers to grasp because it requires an open line of communication between managers and employees.

Without a clear and effective communication channel between these two vital groups in an organization, important realizations would be left unheard and innovation would be greatly stalled. 

“Communication is key at every level in our organization. With consumers, with clients and partners, and especially internally. That’s where we’re the most brutally honest with ourselves. We have to be, it’s how we get better – by embracing the reality of our situations and always striving.

– Joshua Chin, CEO, Chronos Agency – 

Find Motivators Besides Compensation

When it truly comes to getting the most out of your employees, it’s crucial to find motivators outside of monetary compensation, however. While bonuses and cash-prize contests are a great way to spark some internal competition and can bring out a strong effort in your employees, there are other motivators that are even more effective, especially when used in concert with monetary motivators. 

These are rewards like additional days of PTO, extra vacation trips, or even event tickets. Creating additional incentive programs outside of regular compensation packages and bonuses has been proven to increase employee metrics like job satisfaction and fulfillment. 

“We try really hard to create interesting and unique incentive packages that get away from pure money. There are plenty of performance bonuses available already, so creating incentive programs around things like vacation packages instead is always really fun and fulfilling.

– Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Fighting For You – 

Make it Good for the Individual and the Company

When it comes to motivating and encouraging employees to take initiative in their day-to-day responsibilities, more important than anything is making it good for the individual and the company. Employees want to be recognized for a job well done, not only with words and achievements but also with incentives, either monetary or otherwise. This gives managers and organizational leaders a lot of freedom and flexibility in creating various incentive programs designed to motivate and encourage employees to take initiative. 

Innovation and evolution are almost always good for an organization no matter where they stem from. Being in tune with the employees and aligned with their values will help leaders create cultures that naturally foster initiative. 

“Companies that choose to change the way they treat their employees during these dire times will see their efforts pay dividends down the road for many years to come, and motivating employees is one small piece of the puzzle towards making the workplace a place of productivity, engagement, and continuous improvement.”

Dr. Erik Reis, Director of Health and Wellness, Nobody Studios –

Final Thoughts

Employees are the heart and core of an organization. This is crucial for organizational leaders to recognize if they want to continue being organizational leaders into the future. This is because employees are expecting more and more from their employers in terms of fair compensation and fair expectations. Additionally, with the rise of the digital and virtual workplace, employees and employers are working together to find viable work-from-home solutions that keep the ball rolling. 

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