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Harness the Power of an Employee Suggestion Program: Beyond the Suggestion Box

More Musts for Your Employee Suggestion Program

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Here are more ideas for designing and administering an effective employee suggestion program - beyond the suggestion box.

The process decided upon for the submission and review of suggestions in the employee suggestion program should be publicly communicated. Share all of the guidelines and especially, the goals that you are trying to accomplish, by starting an employee suggestion program.

Establish Guidelines for Your Employee Suggestion Program

You'll need to set guidelines such as which topics are open to suggestions. These will likely include ideas that affect cost savings, quality, productivity, process improvements, revenue-generation and morale-enhancement.

Otherwise, as a client in Florida discovered when he promised $25 per employee suggestion; he received a series of employee suggestions such as: put an ice cream machine in the lunch room, put a corn popping machine in the lunch room and any employee who meets their daily production numbers should be able to go home no matter the time of day.

An employee suggestion needs to be more than a suggestion. It must provide some detail about how the proposer thinks the suggestion should be implemented. It is easy to dash off an idea, I would require that additional detail accompany the idea – not a full blown action plan - but at least more detail than an idea. Definitely require the “why” and “how” the idea will impact the company, including a cost savings analysis. At the same time, within these parameters, the suggestion process should be simple. I once knew a company that had a three page employee suggestion form whose managers wondered why they didn’t receive any employee suggestions.

Ideas that are integrally connected to a person’s job should not be considered, or should be dealt with differently. At Toyota, millions of suggestions are generated each year. It is my understanding that the reason they have so many employee suggestions is that the employees are closely focused on improving their own jobs. The employee thinks of an improvement idea, shares it with his or her supervisor and then, if warranted, the idea is implemented immediately. There is no time-consuming process or group of managers that must consider most ideas. In this scenario, managers must be able to reward people who come up with ideas that fit the parameters of the program.

More Guidelines for Your Successful Employee Suggestion Program

You need to designate an administrator for the employee suggestion program who will make sure the process moves as promised. A mid-sized Michigan manufacturing firm found itself with a list of over a hundred suggestions that were bogged down in a review committee that kept postponing meetings. What a morale buster for the people who had so hopefully turned those suggestions in for consideration!

The process decided upon should be publicly communicated with all of the guidelines and especially, the goals that you are trying to accomplish, by starting an employee suggestion program. Set guidelines such as the topics open to suggestions: cost savings, quality, productivity, process improvements, revenue-generating ideas and improved employee motivation and positive morale.

A senior manager needs to champion the employee suggestion program and sit on the evaluation committee. This lends credibility to the employee suggestion program and makes suggesters feel important.

Find ten more important "musts" for the successful employee suggestion program.

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