How often does a million-dollar idea land into your lap?
If you look into your workplace’s suggestion box, the odds are that one out of every four ideas can either save you bags of money or might pay a luscious dividend. An employee suggestion program has historically been the cornerstone of ideas that have boosted sales, cut costs, revolutionized products and services, and earned billions for enterprises.
When the suggestion box at work was a trend just like Slack is today, it churned up to $300 million in savings, and while this sounds like a good number, the good ol’ suggestion box is as good as dead. But in the modern-day, the crux of this concept remains the same, and employee suggestion programs bring through scintillating ideas for corporations through instant online reviews, anonymous digital feedback, and automated suggestion mechanisms.
While the suggestion box might be resting well in its horse and buggy days (or in some organizations’ breakrooms), the power of a comprehensive employee suggestion for company growth is untapped for many. In a few minutes, let’s learn about:
Why conventional suggestion boxes fail, and
How to craft an immaculate employee suggestion program
Here’s to a perfect recipe straight into your employee handbook.
Why do conventional employee suggestion boxes fail?
We all have seen those wooden pandoras at the DMV offices and our workspace, and if your first thought was “what’s wrong with just having a suggestion box and pushing people to slide the suggestions in”, here’s why the conventional, open-ended employee suggestion systems fail in times when crystal clear feedback mechanisms hold the key:
They lacked ownership
A productive employee put a million-dollar idea in your suggestion box to reduce haphazard operations and increase productivity. Now what? Besides a monthly reading of suggestions straight from the box and a pat-on-the-back for giving that very suggestion, suggestion boxes lack ownership from the people who can make things happen i.e., the top level. This automatically dampens an employee’s spirit to even suggest in the first place. And also, they were discreet and nameless—which is a pessimist’s approach to brainstorming.
There were no follow-ups
Great ideas don’t get implemented by simply reading out in the open. A plan of action decides their fate and it boils down to if the managers are interested in making something happen that’s out of the box or they simply believe in doing their daily deeds and heading home. No follow-ups are the reason why “what’s the point of my suggestion?” comes up as a statement, leading to…
No feedback—at all
Empty suggestion boxes don’t mean that your team has run out of ideas—it simply means they aren’t motivated enough to put their brain oil to work. While managers follow this up with rewards for every productive suggestion and whatnot, they fail to identify that these suggestion boxes fail because…
There’s a smarter way
With almost every industry digitized to an advanced extent, feedback mechanisms and employee suggestion systems can now be easily handled. It’s no longer about penning down one’s thoughts on sheets of paper for the boss’s eyes but portraying them where the whole organization can have a look at the idea and put it under the scanner of constructive criticism.
5 Steps to Crafting the Perfect Employee Suggestion Program
A standardized employee suggestion program leads to a great degree of transparency, escalated levels of employee engagement, and a motivated workforce that’s ready to fill up that pandora with amazing, viable suggestions. Here are the steps to follow and get your employee suggestion program up and running from the boxes to the boardroom.
Convince the Management about its utility
It’s not just the suggestions that motivate an employee, but the spirit behind them. When involving employees’ valuable inputs—no matter which level they come from, it brings a sense of belongingness which brings over a 50% increase in job performance. While this engages employees and reduces turnover, it means huge savings for any organization. As if this wasn’t enough, employee suggestion mechanisms are a best practice benchmark in the corporate hemisphere.
Suggestions from employees often come subtly and even the most extroverted ones choose not to address their idea by walking up to their superiors for the sake of its viability and FOMO. By selling this idea to the management, those ideas get an open platform to speak for themselves. How they turn out is a different story.
Establish an end-to-end Plan of Action
A productive employee suggestion program works when a cross-functional team empowers its spine to implement the suggestions it receives. By establishing a chain of command that includes a key member from every stream e.g., finance, HR, marketing, dev-ops, and so forth, everyone is on the same wavelength when inculcating a productive suggestion into action.
These fresh perspectives often come with an approach that is literally out of the box, hence the people taking those suggestions to the engine room must be progressive enough to take the risk. It often happens that most suggestion-givers are given a key role in the project working for the suggestion, which is an intrinsic reward like no other. A comprehensive plan of action makes this crystal.
Run the suggestions through a structure
Suggestion boxes and online suggestion platforms have all sorts of inputs coming towards them—happy hours, Friday luncheons, gossip, and whatnot—but this does nothing but hampers productivity. That’s when guidelines have to be set on suggestion boxes and what they are for. Here are some steps to success that would surely bring out the right suggestions, let alone filter out the nefarious ones:
Setting boundaries for suggestions: Most organizations keep the suggestions open for enhancing workplace productivity, improving the quality of the product(s)/services(s) offered, process improvements, cost savings, and innovation.
Submission and review process: Employee suggestion programs should not be anonymous. The suggestions can be submitted onto a public platform such as Empuls in a new group from brainstorming, and they’ll be up for public scrutiny. However, in case the employee count is high, the suggestions team can take a call on which ones to put forth to the masses.
Make the presenters sell their idea: Suggestions should be based on a premise that it solicits a potential impact on the organization’s doings and should be backed up with quantitative analysis and how its impact will churn results in the future. Just like Shark Tank, a great pitch can turn any suggestion into a detailed roadmap.
Designate a champion from the high chair: A manager with humongous experience can help move mountains and assist the young ones to conquer all the hurdles that come along the way.
Incentivize it with a pinch of Rewards and Recognition
Shout it out loud in front of the masses that the employee suggestion program is up and live. While one can make it mandatory for the managers to bring a couple of suggestions to the table in their monthly meetups from their teams, an open brainstorming session does wonder. This can be incentivized with rewards and recognition wherein the employees with the right suggestions are allowed cash bonuses, promotions, and even to spearhead the project.
With a platform like Empuls, suggestions can be praised and lauded in public and the recipients have Empuls points to show for their contribution, which can be redeemed from a comprehensive catalog. To check if it’s working or not, the team can run a survey to feel how the employees feel about the suggestion program all in all. The rewards and recognition spice it up as people see the carrot and stakes hanging in front of them. And yes—physical boxes won’t bite too if placed around the workspace.
Implement and Follow-up on the Suggestion Program
Be it a customary idea of the month contest or a biweekly meeting to brainstorm on the plans posted on the platform, all the productive suggestions must be followed up with an astute discussion with the immediate team managers to define their viability. If that seems right, the employee suggestion program team can host a presentation where the best ideas can be showcased with inputs and plans.
Remember—for every idea, give out a positive reward to incentivize your think-tanks to give it their best. Implement the best suggestions and watch their objectives hit the ground running. It’s not possible for every suggestion to get successful, however, but they would get the engine of growth and innovation running at your workplace.
Fill up those Suggestion Boxes!
An employee suggestion program blooms into an exemplary breath of fresh air in the organization’s system. With a systematized approach, those suggestion box chits can make it into the boardrooms and the daily bloodstream.
Wondering what platform to use for your employee suggestion program idea sharing? Try Xoxoday Empuls—all one communication platform to collaborate for the big wins.Book a demo now>>
At Xoxoday, we deeply understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and engagement drivers of people, be it an employee, supplier, contract staff, gig or consumer. We bring simplicity and continuity to a complex, everyday problem.