Employee Suggestion Programs
Most organizations are looking for ways to cut costs and improve performance. Capturing ideas and suggestions from employees should be a top priority — especially in this economy. Yet many ignore the untapped resource of their employees who know their jobs better than any expert. It surprises me to realize how few organizations have any kind of employee suggestion program. Most traditional suggestion box programs do not work.
Marsha Myers of Lee Hecht Harrison said, “Managers usually overlook the company’s most valuable asset and source of information – their employees. As the economy slows, creative organizations can find new ways to drive revenue and reduce costs by seeking employee suggestions.”
Good Idea Boards. Georgia’s Buckhead Ritz-Carlton Hotel collects ideas and suggestions by letting employees write them on an “easy wipe” board in their department. Instead of passing untested ideas up the chain of command, the employee who originates an idea has responsibility for its implementation. They follow a three-step work process: “Study it, Pilot it, and Adopt it.”
A quality coach helps each department and its employees with the process. Once an idea is piloted and found worthwhile, it is adopted. Each month the department forwards the best idea to the division and then on to the Quality Office for special recognition.
Idea Expositions. The Sony Corporation is well known for its ability to create and manufacture new and innovative products. Each year Sony generates approximately 1000 new products and product innovations. Founder Masaru Ibuka’s philosophy for success is “Never follow others.”
In order to foster the exchange of ideas within departments, Sony’s Corporate Research sponsors an annual Idea Exposition. Scientists and engineers display projects and ideas they are working on. Open only to Sony’s employees, the exposition lets individuals share ideas with each other to promote cross fertilization between departments and divisions.
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You probably have seen this before. . .
Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources person asked a young engineer fresh out of Georgia Tech, “And what starting salary were you looking for?” The engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.” The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, a company matching retirement fund for 50% of your salary, and a company car leased every 2 years – say, a red Corvette?” The engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?” And the interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.”