A Penny For Your Thoughts

17 February 2014

Does your firm run an Employee Suggestion Scheme? If not, perhaps it is something you should consider.

A Suggestion Scheme is a recognised programme through which employees can formally submit their ideas for improvement for consideration by management. Here at Green and Co, the opinion of every employee matters. Staff are invited to put genuine, useful ideas into the suggestion box, and are rewarded for doing so. These are then discussed by the partners to decide whether they are worth implementing.

But what are the benefits of an Employee Suggestion Scheme?

  • Employees are extremely valuable in terms of idea generation, as they often see possible improvements from the front line that managers perhaps cannot.
  • Involving employees in improving company processes is an excellent way to make them feel engaged and valued. They will want your organisation to do well, and will feel that they are contributing to its success.
  • It provides a vital channel of communication between employees and management within the organisation.

If you already have an Employee Suggestion Scheme, but feel that it has lost momentum, here are a few ideas to kick start it again:

  • Ensure your suggestion box is visible and located in a convenient, accessible place.
  • Prove that all suggestions are considered, and explain why, if need be, they are not implemented. One method of demonstrating this could be by simply emailing the employee to say thank you. Employees need to know that they can put forward ideas which will be evaluated objectively.
  • Offer an incentive to employees for putting ideas in the suggestion box. It might be best to lay down the parameters of ‘genuine’, ‘useful…’ since the focus must be on quality not quantity!
  • Offer a reward for good ideas that will be implemented. This could be a cash reward, a lunch out paid for by the firm, or a percentage of the cost saving if this is what the suggestion represents.
  • Provide guidelines, or ‘themes’, around specific aspects of the company about which  suggestions would be welcome, in order to stimulate ideas: cost saving ideas, revenue increasing ideas, improvement in customer service ideas, procedural improvement ideas, recommendations for future direction of the business, etc.
  • Monitor ideas, and run a competition between the different teams in your firm to see who can make the most suggestions in a 6 month period. Again, stress that ideas must be viable, genuine and useful.
  • Rename the scheme to make it seem more appealing. Siemens Automation and Drive have named their suggestion scheme ‘Ideas Unlimited’!
  • Finally, make sure the suggestion scheme is promoted effectively! Make sure employees are aware of how the scheme works and how to make a suggestion. If the idea is implemented, ensure this positive news is communicated across the company – this will ultimately encourage staff to make further suggestions, hopefully providing you with a wealth of creative and valuable ideas. 

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

1 Comment

  1. Howard Jones

    Couldn’t agree more – employers are really missing a trick if they don’t encourage ideas and listen to them.

    When they do come up with suggestions its crucial that people get feedback even when the idea can’t be used otherwise they assume nobody is interested and stop thinking about better and different ways to do things.

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