How To Motivate and Create Incentives for Your Team To Support New Initiatives

Victor Zhang P.E.
June 18, 2024

It's not always easy to get support from employees when trying to do something that's to the company's benefit. Nearly any time a business rolls out a new initiative, it's met with at least some resistance.

Many employees don't see the benefits of new practices and protocols—instead, they see more work that needs to be done. Leadership must develop impactful initiatives and employee incentives that get the whole company on board.

Employee Resistance to New Initiatives

Most industries have introduced initiatives that employees have resisted, from return-to-office policies to added responsibilities. Even well-known companies, including Apple, Disney, Amazon, and Starbucks, had to learn more about their workforces to implement their goals successfully.

The labor and workforce shortage is among the greatest issues facing the construction industry today. Nearly every team member must wear multiple hats and learn new skills and procedures.

Initiatives that increase productivity and responsibilities are challenging to introduce in 2024. While worker productivity continues to rise across most industries, this increase isn't always reflected in worker pay. Many workers rightfully feel uncomfortable taking on additional responsibilities without incentives, especially if it becomes a pattern.

Addressing employee resistance can be challenging. On the one hand, new initiatives can improve safety, efficiency, revenue, and construction site transparency. On the other hand, additional responsibilities can wear employees out faster, lead to mistakes, and make workers' pay disproportional to their effort and time spent on the job.

Employees may not support your initiative for many reasons, whether you're introducing new software, safety protocols, or communication strategies. The key is listening to their needs to better recognize and respond to pushback.

Finding Creative Solutions to People Problems

Despite the common adoption hurdles, many businesses successfully introduce policies and initiatives with employee support. To achieve this, these companies work in unison with their staff to find creative solutions that meet their needs. For example, when introducing new procedures, many companies spotlight the benefits of the new practice for motivation.

Common benefits of new initiatives include:

  • Safer working conditions
  • Improved communication and feedback
  • More manageable storage and organization
  • More preferable work hours

Before introducing your new initiative, consider the toll it may put on employees. For instance, reorganizing a physical workspace may require minimal effort and only a few days for employees to adjust. On the other hand, increasing employees' workloads could cause them to burn out faster, and they may not have enough time for their other tasks.

Strategies for Encouraging Employee Participation

There are many ways to encourage employees to support your new initiatives, whether you're increasing the workload or in-office days. The best solutions typically reflect the type of work or changes being made.

Employee Incentives and Rewards

Many workplaces offer incentives and rewards employees can earn by meeting particular milestones. These programs are crafted around specific workplace practices and goals.

For example, if your initiative focuses on reducing errors, you could set a maximum number of reported errors per week and reward each department for staying under that number.

Popular employee incentives include:

  • Bonuses
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Free lunches
  • Gym memberships
  • Subscriptions to online services

Increased Pay and Benefits

Higher productivity typically means higher profits, and employees know that. Even if the work hours stay the same, pay should generally increase alongside productivity — especially if the new responsibilities require more focus, energy, or technical training.

That said, raising employees' salaries and wages isn't always immediately feasible. Many employers instead offer additional PTO and increased job flexibility as an alternative.

Many general contractors also offer contract-specific bonuses for projects that require additional work and initiatives. Bonuses can also support other temporary initiatives, even outside of contract work.

For instance, if employees need to take on new tasks after another employee quits, bonuses could account for their new responsibilities until you fill the open position.

Dividing Tasks

Some employees may be unable to take on new tasks without working overtime or falling behind on their other responsibilities. Employers may reassign some of their other job expectations to account for this.

For example, suppose a construction operations team is given several additional tasks under a new initiative. With so much already on their checklist, this could overload the team's schedule and cause them to overlook potential risks.

To deter this, you could delegate some of their more administrative tasks — such as paperwork, accounting, and subcontractor relations — to other departments. Alternatively, you could reassign high-quality workers from other teams to operations.

Highlight the Benefits

Employees are more likely to resist change if they don't believe it will benefit them or the company. The solution is to highlight the advantages your new initiatives offer beyond the bottom line.

For example, if you're introducing new software for project updates, you could share how the program will save the team time and protect their data. This demonstrates that management has thought this through and genuinely believes they're making a good decision for the employees. This can help foster buy-in with employees who may resist change.

Balancing Company Operations With Employee Buy-In

New initiatives and practices are essential to your business's survival. But it can be challenging to get employee support when trying to implement something new that benefits the company.

Creative solutions, such as incentive programs and shared tasks, encourage employees to embrace and adapt to your new procedures. The best solutions vary by each initiative and team.

Talk to your employees to learn how to balance your new company operations with their needs.

About the Author
Victor Zhang P.E.
Chief Engineering Nerd
Victor is always asking "isn't there a better way than how it's always been?" At the intersection of construction and technology, the possibilities are endless
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