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Going the Extra Mile: How To Inspire Discretionary Effort in Employees

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
A  person is looking over a white table. They are working on a tablet and a computer while drinking a cup of coffee. They are wearing a black shirt and a black watch.


Lead­ers often won­der how they can inspire extra effort in their peo­ple. How­ev­er, before encour­ag­ing employ­ees to go the extra mile, com­pa­nies should first take a look inward. Here’s why:

The real­i­ty is that engage­ment is the secret to dis­cre­tionary effort, and if employ­ees aren’t engaged, they aren’t going to go the extra mile. How­ev­er, boost­ing employ­ee engage­ment is rarely a straight­for­ward task.

To have tru­ly engaged employ­ees, com­pa­nies have to under­stand what their employ­ees want out of their jobs, and they have to pri­or­i­tize employ­ee well-being above all else.

Thank­ful­ly, there are some proven tech­niques to fos­ter engage­ment, boost well-being and ulti­mate­ly inspire your employ­ees to go the extra mile.

6 Ways to Inspire Discretionary Effort

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1. Provide Consistent Feedback and Recognition

Almost 50% of all employ­ees agree they will leave a com­pa­ny if they don’t feel appre­ci­at­ed. It’s no sur­prise that when employ­ees don’t feel like their work is acknowl­edged, they’re less like­ly to go the extra mile.

If super­vi­sors want to inspire extra effort from their employ­ees, they need to pro­vide con­sis­tent feed­back and recog­ni­tion for the effort the employ­ees are already putting into the job.

Feed­back can be espe­cial­ly cru­cial for dis­cre­tionary effort because employ­ees need to clear­ly know the expec­ta­tions from the begin­ning. After all, they can’t be expect­ed to know what the com­pa­ny wants with­out any guidance.

2. Foster Team Building and Positive Company Culture

Peo­ple who have friends at work are more than sev­en times more like­ly to be engaged and sat­is­fied with their jobs. Team build­ing is essen­tial because it pro­motes com­mu­ni­ty, friend­ship, sup­port and healthy competition.

A col­lab­o­ra­tive and bustling team is the cor­ner­stone of pos­i­tive com­pa­ny cul­ture. Employ­ees are much more like­ly to give a lit­tle extra if they know their entire team depends on them and if that lev­el of team­work is sewn into the company’s DNA.

3. Provide Mentorship Programs and Growth Paths

Two people are sitting on a couch looking over some papers. They are sitting at a coffee table with a laptop. One person is wearing a black shirt and a tan skirt, and the other is wearing a blue sweater and a white skirt. There are various plants behind them.


Less than 30% of employ­ees are sat­is­fied with their career advance­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. More­over, 70% of employ­ees con­sid­er leav­ing their job because of a lack of advance­ment and devel­op­ment opportunities.

If there’s a clear path for advance­ment and growth, peo­ple will be much more like­ly to give the extra effort. If a com­pa­ny rec­og­nizes extra effort with growth oppor­tu­ni­ties, men­tor­ship and career advance­ment, peo­ple will be high­ly incen­tivized to give a lit­tle more in order to fur­ther their careers.

4. Offer Lifestyle Benefits and Perks

Even if com­pa­nies don’t offer some of these oth­er options, they need to take care of their peo­ple with com­pre­hen­sive ben­e­fits pack­ages. If employ­ees have to wor­ry about things like health­care, they won’t have much to give to the com­pa­ny. On the oth­er hand, if orga­ni­za­tions sup­port their peo­ple, employ­ees will be able to give more time and ener­gy to the company.

Today’s employ­ees need more than just tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits. Com­pa­nies who real­ly want to take care of their employ­ees should offer lifestyle ben­e­fits, too. By using a cus­tomiz­able ben­e­fits plat­form like Fringe, you can make sure each per­son gets the ben­e­fits they need to be healthy, hap­py and whole.

Com­pa­nies that choose a ben­e­fits plat­form like Fringe can also use it to rec­og­nize dis­cre­tionary effort. For exam­ple, if an employ­ee goes the extra mile, the com­pa­ny can acknowl­edge their effort with extra points to use for lifestyle ben­e­fits. It’s a great way to tan­gi­bly add val­ue for peo­ple who go the extra mile.

5. Allow Flexibility

A person is sitting at a tan desk working on their laptop. They are holding their child and drinking a cup of coffee. The child is eating a peeled orange.


As much as 80% of employ­ees want a more flex­i­ble work arrange­ment. Flex­i­bil­i­ty can mean remote work­ing options or vari­able sched­ules. It also encom­pass­es a desire for a healthy work-life bal­ance. As burnout con­tin­ues to pro­lif­er­ate the work­force, com­pas­sion­ate com­pa­nies should con­sid­er mak­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty a non-nego­tiable feature.

When peo­ple are allowed to work around their lives, they tend to be more engaged and will­ing to go the extra mile at work. It’s also a mat­ter of prac­ti­cal­i­ty. For instance, a par­ent who’s work­ing remote­ly while home­school­ing their child isn’t going to have a lot of ener­gy or time to give more to the com­pa­ny. How­ev­er, if the com­pa­ny allows flex­i­bil­i­ty, par­ents can work in the evenings or while the chil­dren nap or do their school­work, giv­ing them ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to thrive.

6. Express Gratitude Loudly and Regularly

69% of employ­ees agree they would work hard­er if they felt like they were bet­ter appre­ci­at­ed. That’s why one of the most straight­for­ward ways to inspire extra effort is by sim­ply say­ing, ​“Thank you.”

Super­vi­sors should be thought­ful about tak­ing time to express their gen­uine grat­i­tude for a job well done. Whether it’s a real-time thank you, a thank you card, a post on social media, a pub­lic announce­ment or a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion, lead­ers need to find ways to thank their employ­ees for the work they do.

When peo­ple know their efforts are noticed, they’re much more like­ly to con­tin­ue striv­ing for great­ness. So, com­pa­nies should express grat­i­tude loud­ly and reg­u­lar­ly to inspire extra effort.

Inspiring Discretionary Effort in an Organization

Orga­ni­za­tions can inspire employ­ees to go the extra mile with a lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form like Fringe.

Fringe offers inno­v­a­tive ways for employ­ers to show grat­i­tude, rec­og­nize employ­ees and pro­mote well­ness through ben­e­fit selec­tions tai­lored to the indi­vid­ual. Talk to our team to get start­ed today!

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