Poor communication often plagues many businesses, particularly across the many stages of hierarchy that control most companies. For example, you may find it difficult to discover what your entry-level employees are thinking. They most certainly have some ideas that could improve your operational efficiency. Thankfully, an employee suggestion program can help with this problem.
However, what is an employee suggestion program and how can it help you? This is a simple system that allows employees across different hierarchical realms to make a positive impact on your company. A good strategy will bring in excellent ideas from across every group in your business in a way that can improve your chances of success. The following ideas can help make your system even more successful.
1. Create a Suggestion Box for Each Department
Start this process by creating a small suggestion box for every department in your business. These suggestion boxes allow your employees to have a voice.
Make sure that you also create a digital suggestion box. This can be a suggestion email account that is regularly checked by an employee. This person should be someone who is in charge of tracking your employee suggestion program.
2. Check Each Suggestion Box Once a Week
Appoint a specialized employee in each department to check their suggestion box every week. This employee should sort through the good ideas and put aside those that seem bad for the company.
However, even potentially mediocre suggestions should still be head up to your higher office. That’s because upper management may see a positive point in an idea that may be missed by others.
3. Send These Ideas to an Upper Manager
After your employee suggestion program boxes have been sorted into different files, they should be sent to a specialized manager. This official can check each of these suggestions. Their skill set should include an understanding of the demands of your business and an ability to process simple ideas quickly and easily.
This person can then earmark concepts that they think could benefit a company. They should leave comments on how they could be implemented in the future.
4. Track Digital Suggestions
The person in charge of digital suggestions should also sort them in a similar way. For example, they should take every suggestion they get, sort them based on their quality, and create a list. Eventually, the same person should send a report to the employee suggestion program manager.
The manager can then look through these ideas and create a report of all their ideas to send to even higher levels of management. At this point, they should have a pretty good concept of which ideas work best.
5. Group Discussion on Employee Suggestions
After the employee suggestion program manager compiles all the week’s suggestions, it is a good idea to have a group meeting with the various managers of your company’s departments. This weekly meeting should go over each idea briefly and pinpoint which are the best.
At this stage, you can start eliminating suggestions that seem to have potential to damage the company. Try to cut the ideas down to about one-third of the total suggestions. In other words, if you get 30 suggestions in a week, streamline it down to no more than 10 or so.
Don’t spend an excessive amount of time debating these ideas. An hour should be more than enough time.
6. Brief Analysis of the Potential of Each Approved Idea
After approving ideas in your employee suggestion program, it is a good idea to analyze the possibilities of each on a deeper level. For example, you can gauge the cost of the suggestion and the benefits it could bring.
This step should take no more than 30-60 minutes to perform. This isn’t a truly in-depth process but one that identifies the primary benefits of each idea. Spending more than an hour on this step bogs down the process, as you will be taking a more in-depth look at the suggestions later.
7. Talk to the Employees Who Suggested Ideas
Ask your managers to sit down with the employees who suggest these ideas to learn more about their possible benefits. Go into greater detail about each idea to learn more about why they were suggested.
Allow your employees to talk to the employee suggestion program manager and higher-level executives to gauge the possibilities inherent in their ideas. In this way, you can have a more coherent understanding of the concept.
8. Engage with a Cross-Functional Review Team
If you find that this process is going a bit too slow, try to implement a cross-functional review team for your suggestions. This team will take a look at the suggestions and acknowledge them within a 48-hour period.
They must then bring them to the attention of the decision-makers in the company and decide which, if any, should be implemented. This step is wise if you want a quicker program. However, it may eliminate some hierarchical discussion.
9. Make a Decision Regarding the Suggestions
By now, you should have spent a few hours talking about each of these suggestions and have a good idea of their quality. Now, you must talk to the decision-makers in the company to decide which you want to implement.
Make sure that the employee who suggested the idea is present at these meetings. During this discussion, you can bring up the good and bad points of each concept. Thoroughly examine them to get an idea of which is right for your business.
10. Reward Your Employees
If your employee suggestion program successfully finds an idea that you plan on using, reward the employee or employees who made the suggestion. A good reward includes a sizable bonus or even gift cards.
Make sure that the reward feels balanced with the impact that the suggestion will have on your business. Successful, but low-level, suggestions should be rewarded with a smaller item while larger ones should get a more substantial prize. This step can evolve hand in hand with a work incentive program.
As you can see, a good employee suggestion program is a simple and efficient system that runs smoothly. Thankfully, it is usually quite easy to set up such an improvement system that works for your unique needs. Just adjust these suggestions in any way that you see fit.
If you have any experience with these kinds of employee suggestion program ideas, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section. You should also share this article with anyone you know who is looking to create an employee suggestion program.