Most people want to be more proactive in their lives — whether that’s on the job, in their relationships or with their health. But many will tell you it’s difficult to put this into practice. With the increase of remote work and new challenges both employees and employers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, proactive employees and overall employee productivity has been a concern. But with fewer office distractions, breaks and sick days that were once a part of a regular office employee’s day, some companies have found that productivity has actually increased.
Recent research that polled hiring managers on remote work during coronavirus found that “32% saw an increase in productivity among their workers during COVID-19 shutdowns, compared with about 23% who saw a decline.”
How being proactive at work benefits your business
Proactive employees are self-motivated, innovative problem solvers and seek out opportunities. When people feel trusted and supported at work, it not only gets results, but leads to increased engagement and productivity.
Encouraging employees to be proactive at work benefits your people and your business. Proactive employees can lead to higher productivity and efficiency. Research shows that, “Proactivity drives performance and innovation of teams and organizations and boosts individuals’ well-being and careers.” “When individuals are proactive, they use their initiative at work to bring about a better future.”
How to motivate employees as a manager
Here are five ways to help employees be proactive at work — and help you learn how to motivate employees as a manager:
1. Create a culture of trust and empowerment
Managers need to communicate that they support initiative and autonomy as much as collaboration. Employee trust has been linked to higher levels of organizational commitment, intention to remain with the organization and active interest in the well-being of the organization.
A great way to demonstrate that is by asking employees to come forward with ideas, trust them to make decisions, ask them to do more in their jobs and allow them to take limited risks. If someone suggests a great solution, ask them to run with it — and make sure their efforts are recognized, regardless of success or failure.
2. Motivate employees with an idea challenge
Think about some of the issues in your company — maybe it’s reducing health care costs or increasing sales. Instead of brainstorming ideas in a conference room, open the floor to employees through an Idea Challenge. Be transparent about the issue and explain what needs to be achieved. Reward the top five ideas, implement the best one and provide recognition for the finalists by sharing with leadership or communication to the entire company.
3. Encourage flexible work schedules
Let’s be honest — you can try to help employees with work-life balance by offering something like a time management workshop, but what most employees need is simply more time. Especially now, a 9-to-5 day may not be optimal for everyone and some people are more productive working from home. When you focus on results and empower employees to work the way they need to, that trust and freedom allows them to be much more proactive at work.
4. Implement a “Solutions Only” policy
Being proactive is habit #1 in Steven Covey’s international bestseller, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In Covey’s words, it means taking responsibility and being solution-minded. Encourage this in the workplace by asking employees to report a problem with a suggested solution.
5. Reward proactive healthy behaviors
Healthy employees are engaged, productive — and yes, proactive. But that means being just as proactive when it comes to their health. When employees feel they have higher well-being, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work and feel supported by their organization. From leading by example to mindfulness breaks, here are a few ways you can encourage well-being in the workplace.