Are you failing to leverage the knowledge of your employees to improve and grow your business? In a study by management researchers Kathleen Ryan and Daniel Oestreich, 70% of people said they hesitated to speak up about problems at work or suggest possible improvements to their firms because they feared repercussions. The average implemented employee suggestions saves a company $6,224 in operational expenses according to the Employee Involvement Association. So if you don’t have 100% participation for employees offering suggestions you are missing out on a very real opportunity to improve your bottom line.
Step back and take a look at how employee suggestions are received at your company- is management feedback positive or negative? Do you encourage new ideas and reward innovation? Are all decisions made at an executive or manager level or do you actively solicit employees impute into process design, work place policies and reward systems?
Having a suggestion box or providing the ability to use the company intranet to log a suggestion is only the first step. The companies that are taking full advantage of the power of employee suggestions also:
1) Provide timely responses. A committee reviews suggestions within a week of receipt and provides immediate feedback. Nothing stifles employee suggestions better than having them go into the “black hole” of committee never to see the light of day again.
2) Have executive support for the program with a member from the highest level of management sitting on the committee to review suggestions.
3) Require employees to complete a simple form that outlines the reason for the suggestion, what is the desired outcome, any cost savings or operational improvements and how success will be measure.
4) Provide encouraging feedback in private and in-person for suggestions not implemented. The employee took a risk in putting the suggestion out there so they deserve 10 minutes of personal attention.
5) Appropriate rewards for implemented suggestions. Public recognition is always nice but a bonus tied to a percentage of the cost savings or another form of compensation tends to increase employees willingness to offer suggestions.
6) Track and report on how effective employee suggestions are to the business.
Employee engagement is critical to the success of your business- and effective suggestion programs are a good first step in improving employee engagements.
To leverage the full power of your employees and create a climate of trust in your workplace read Driving Fear Out of the Workplace, winner of numerous awards including SHRM Book of the Year or check out “Improving Employee Engagement Will Improve Your Bottom Line” in KPA’s November Newsletter.
Getting Started Resources:
Free software at http://ideascale.com/employee-suggestion-box.html
The traditional black box at http://www.staples.com/Safco-Steel-Suggestion-Box-Black/product_648146