As an employee we are habituated to doing the tasks which have been assigned to us. Will the company not benefit if employees look beyond this defined scope? Say in a services company a suggestion or alternative is being liked by the client. Client might want to opt for that solution. This will bring more work to the employer. In product based company employees' views can prove to be beneficial. Idea originator (most likely the founder) might keep thinking in a single direction. Employees' views can add real users' perspective to it. In short it is for sure that any initiative by employee is definitely going to prove useful.
Now lies the big question- Will the employees take such initiatives? If yes then when? This is where the work environment plays a vital role. Only when the employee is highly motivated and knows that his initiative/work is being appreciated by seniors. On the contrary if no heed is being paid to good work, or depicted so, employees will make it a routine to do exactly what has been assigned to them. Appreciation can be in a tangible form like good appraisal or a pat on the back. Intagible forms can be- manager wishes to exchange words with or discuss features or consult you before finalizing.
There are times when your manager encourages you to take such initiatives but you get no tangible/intangible result over a period of time. Even the company owner (in case of a startup) or senior manager does not know you......your manager had been collecting the credit of your innovativeness or work as his own! There will hardly be any employee who will continue with his initiatives even after realizing this bitter fact. This again brings the employee back to the routine to do precisely what he is being paid for!!