Dear Workforce-We’re Having Trouble Generating Suggestions from Employees. What Are We Doing Wrong
How do we breathe new life into our employee-suggestion program? It has been in effect for more than 10 years, but we really need to get our employees more enthused about submitting worthwhile ideas.
Dear Out of Ideas:
Follow a few simple rules to get your workforce to think creatively:
Welcome all suggestions. There are no bad ideas. Employees do not have to come up with the next great innovation. Usually, the smaller ones are easier to implement, and many can have large-scale impact.
Make corporate creativity part of the job. Companies that fail to get at least two "good" ideas per month probably aren't nurturing corporate creativity. Voluntary programs usually do not yield optimal results. Moreover, creativity usually does not reside solely in one business unit. Companies rarely know in advance who will be involved in a creative act, when it will happen, or how. Push for programs that span business units, and involve as many employees as possible.
Instill awareness of corporate economics. Make sure employees understand how revenue is generated and about the cost of goods sold. Tell them that the best ideas are oriented around growing revenues and managing costs. Provide examples, emphasizing specific ideas that have improved the company's balance sheet.
Measure and reward creativity. Keep track of how many new ideas emerge, from business units as well as individuals. Nor should you emphasize ideas alone. Encourage employees to suggest actions for implementing their ideas. Track how the ideas dovetail with the company's strategy and objectives. Above all, reward those who offer ideas and help implement them. Significant monetary rewards aren't necessary; modest spot bonuses or small gifts like movie tickets or gift certificates will work well. Whatever rewards you use, try to recognize employees publicly before their peers. That should inspire other employees to think creatively, too.
SOURCE: Matthew Levin, vice president, global operations officer,Hudson Human Capital Solutions Hudson Highland Group, Chicago, July 27, 2004.
LEARN MORE: Suggestion Box Pays Off.
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