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10 ways to motivate employees to be more proactive at work

As a forward-thinking manager, your goal is to build a team that's not just capable, but also dynamically proactive. A proactive workforce is the engine of your company's success, driving innovation and excellence. Here’s an in-depth look at cultivating such a workforce.

What does it mean to be a proactive employee?

A proactive employee is a person who anticipates future issues and always strives to make things happen with a specific goal in mind. Being proactive at work means your employees are always asking questions, suggesting ideas, and having the overall goal of the business in mind. A proactive employee is an employee that will help your company reach its bigger goal.  

Proactive vs. reactive employee—What’s the difference?

Reactive behavior is when someone responds to a situation after it happens. Reactions result from actions that took place. In the workplace, a reactive employee is someone who waits for something to happen before they do something about it. 

Proactive employees are people who plan ahead and address future conditions, circumstances, or crises. Proactive involves anticipating problems or issues and developing a plan to avoid negative outcomes. Proactive employees in the workplace plan for unforeseen circumstances and make things happen. 

Why is being proactive important for business?

Proactive employees bring a lot to your team. They are self-motivated, problem solvers, and seek out opportunities. Proactive employees are trusted employees who bring results and are engaged in the company. Encouraging your team to be proactive at work will benefit them and the overall goals of your business. When each team member is proactive, they have higher productivity and efficiency. 

Key signs of a team that isn't proactive

Below are key signs that your employees aren’t proactive. If you see your team experiencing these signs, keep reading to learn about the solutions we offer.

1. Helplessness

Employees who are reactive show signs of helplessness. When problems occur, they will shrug their shoulders and accept it as things are. They also say things like “that will never work” or “we’ve tried that before, and it didn’t work.” If you hear things like that from your employees, they are helpless. 

2. Victim mindset

If your employees have a victim mindset, they could also suffer from a lack of productivity. A victim mindset is when your employees think everything bad always happens to them and don’t fix it. They will also blame others for their problems and expect others to solve them. 

3. Missing open communication

When team members aren’t proactive, communication between everyone worsens. Instead of communicating the issues they are facing, they will keep it to themselves. As a manager, when you don’t know about a problem, you can’t solve it. When communication is struggling, you can’t support your team. Your employees don’t communicate because they feel helpless, as we discussed above. 

10 ways to help employees be proactive:

Here are 10 ways to make your employees proactive at work and how as a manager, you can motivate them. 

1. Help employees with setting goals

Your employees should be setting goals for themselves. You should implement continuous goal-setting as a manager to keep your employees motivated and engaged. One goal-setting method is the SMART method which helps employees create attainable goals. Here is a breakdown of this goal-setting strategy: 

Specific: Narrow down what you hope to accomplish.
Find a way to track your progress.
Ensure you have the resources and capability to reach the goal.
Relevant: Consider if the goal is relevant to what’s important for your career and your company.
Set milestones and overall deadlines for the completion of your goal.

2. Provide additional challenges 

When you notice your employees succeeding in their tasks, completing things efficiently, and overall performing well, you may need to add challenges. Increase their responsibilities and give them challenges requiring them to plan ahead. You can start by assigning your employee to lead a project. This will help them be proactive and independent. 

3. Reward proactive healthy behaviors

Healthy employees are more productive, engaged, and proactive. However, for your employees to be proactive at work, they need to be proactive in all parts of their life. When employees feel good, they are more likely to be more engaged and productive at work, leading to them being proactive. As a manager, you should lead by example, promote that your team takes breaks, and encourage overall well-being in the workplace. 

4. Encourage flexible work schedules

Your employees most likely feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to be done. In today’s working world, 9-5 might not be the best schedule, and many people prefer to work from home. Allowing your employees to have a flexible work schedule will increase productivity. It also shows as a manager, you trust your employees, which will lead to proactive employees. 

5. Provide creative freedom

If you trust your employees, give them the freedom to make their own decisions. As a manager, you should be there for support and guidance, but you should let them take the initiative. By establishing a flexible, freer environment, your employees can develop more skills and be more confident in their work.  

6. Give helpful feedback 

If you notice your employees are reactive, give them helpful feedback. Set a meeting with them to discuss what’s going on and how they can improve. You can help them set more goals, learn independence, and give them motivation tips. 

You should also be letting them know when they are being proactive. Try to give them positive feedback, so they know what to keep doing in the future. Provide examples of strengths and weaknesses, so your employees can visualize how they can improve. 

7. Keep your promises 

As a manager, you need to model the behavior you expect from your employees. Make sure you keep the promises you make to your team. If you say you will respond to something by the end of the day, you need to set a reminder for yourself to do it to build trust between you and your team. You may inspire your employees with your time management skills as well. 

8. Allow job autonomy 

A key factor in making employees more proactive at work is allowing them to take ownership of their work. It provides a sense of mastery as they can see how their decisions have impacted their company. It also motivates employees to think about how they can continue to improve and succeed at their job. 

9. Focus on employees’ strengths

When employees focus on their strengths, they will do more of what they’re good at and are more proactive about taking on projects and responsibilities that require them to use their strengths. 

10. Develop a culture of learning.

Make sure you’re providing career development and growth opportunities to your employees. When employees are offered opportunities to grow their skillset and learn new things, they will be more proactive and willing to solve problems. 

The difference between pro-team and pro-self proactivity 

There are two types of proactivity in the workplace. Employees who are pro-team and ones who are pro-self. Pro-team employees are proactive for the business's good and contribute to the common goal. Employees who are pro-self are only proactive in seeking individual career advancement, skill development, and receiving recognition. Pro-self proactivity is good for the employees’ individual development and can lead to helping the organization as a whole. 

It’s important as a manager to promote both pro-team and pro-self proactivity. You should encourage your employees to be proactive and think about the team and company as a whole so everybody succeeds.

Your Money Line: The catalyst for proactive teams

At Your Money Line, we understand the intricate link between financial wellness, mental health, and workplace productivity. Financial stress can be a significant barrier to employee engagement and proactivity. Our services are designed to alleviate this stress, empowering your employees to focus on what matters—innovative and productive work.

By partnering with us, you can access tailored financial guidance and support tools to transform your team's financial concerns into financial confidence. The result? A more motivated, engaged, and proactive workforce.

The proactive transformation of your team is not just a possibility—it's within reach. With the right strategies and support from Your Money Line, you can unlock the full potential of your workforce. Let's collaborate to create an environment where proactivity thrives, and your business goals are achieved with unwavering commitment.

Take the next step

Are you ready to see a marked difference in your team's motivation and productivity? Watch a demo today, and let's embark on this transformational journey together!