Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

An Expansion of the Beneficial Outcomes Associated with the Proactive Employee

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

An Expansion of the Beneficial Outcomes Associated with the Proactive Employee

Article excerpt


The study examined outcomes associated with the proactive individual by analyzing the responses of employees who worked in the health and human services sector primarily providing direct care to patients/clients. Of the 271 respondents, 242 completed the entire online survey which tapped, in addition to proactivity, the constructs of work-group cohesion, compassion satisfaction, burnout, and job withdrawal intentions. While correlations were appraised, the principal analysis of the data was conducted using partial least squares (PLS) path modeling. As predicted the antecedent variable, proactivity, was positively related to work-group cohesion and to compassion satisfaction but negatively related to burnout and job withdrawal intentions.

Keywords: proactivity, cohesion, compassion satisfaction, burnout, turnover


When new employees are first hired, managers give individuals a specific job description, and then evaluate them on how well they perform the tasks listed within the document. However, when individuals strictly follow their job descriptions, the inflexibility does not allow for the organization to deal with needed adjustments. This rigidity inhibits employees from helping the organization anticipate and deal with change. The expectation that employees unbendingly follow their job descriptions only works in static conditions, and most organizations are operating in turbulent environments which requires employees to demonstrate flexibility. Given the dynamic nature of business, managers often want employees to go beyond what is required in the job description (Griffin, Neal, & Parker, 2007). Those employees who willingly pursue broader roles in unstable environments are exhibiting proactivity.

Proactive employees are self-motivated and seek out opportunities to help the organization (Crant, 2000). They typically start by challenging the status quo and voicing their concerns about a problem that needs to be solved or prevented (Morrison & Milliken, 2000). To convince the supervisor of their concerns, they use facts and logic, but they also sell their ideas enthusiastically so that managers will re-think their position and go along with their plans (Crant, 2000; Dutton, Ashford, O'Neill, & Lawrence, 2001). When taking charge of the project (Morrison & Phelps, 1999), they set action-oriented objectives and persevere in the face of obstacles (Frese, Fay, Hilburger, Leng, & Tag, 1997). The behaviors of these proactive employees result in many constructive consequences. In this study, the outcomes examined are work-cohesion, compassion satisfaction, burnout, and job withdrawal intentions.

Many researchers approach proactivity as a personality trait and view these employees as engaging in proactive behaviors acts within and across situations (Bateman & Crant, 1993; Grant, Gino, & Hofmann, 2011). Because of the dispositional nature of proactivity, it represents a stable characteristic of the individual. Thus, it is easier to hire employees who exhibit these attributes than attempt to train them to be proactive (Parker, Williams, & Turner, 2006). Managers need to recruit proactive individuals so they can help identify issues facing the organization. These employees actively create the work environment so that an organization can adapt to the threats that are bombarding it both internally and externally. Some of these threats include uncertain environments; less funding with expectations that services remain at the same level; reductions in force; top management turnover; technological innovation; increasing expectations from customers, clients and patients; and loss of key personnel (Griffin, et al., 2007).

There are many wide ranging effects associated with proactivity. Crant (1995) examined job performance of real estate agents and found that proactive personality significantly contributed to high job performance. This finding on performance was supported in a comparative meta-analysis article which also reported that proactive employees tend to be highly satisfied (Thomas, Whitman, & Viswesvaran, 2010). …

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