Bright idea: Harnessing the power of employee suggestions

We’ve all seen those sad employee suggestion boxes collecting dust in the corner.

Typically brown and padlocked as if guarding state secrets, these boxes do little to inspire creativity among actual employees. If you want to dig in and find the good stuff, it’s going to require a bit more effort. Read on for some bright ideas about how to tap into your employees’ bright ideas.

Make collecting suggestions an active process. It takes a lot of effort for an employee who has an idea to write it down, find your suggestion box, and slip it in - at that point, they’re more likely to be going through the effort because they have a complaint rather than a true suggestion. To get the really good ideas, collecting suggestions and ideas should be dynamic, engaging, and fun. Rather than setting up an empty box, host idea brainstorming sessions within departments, or invite employees from different departments to bounce ideas off each other. Holding these in-person sessions will not only encourage more ideas, but will indicate to staff that you are listening and are truly interested in what they have to say.

Don’t offer financial compensation. Money may seem like an obvious incentive for employees, but monetary rewards don’t actually increase the quantity or quality of ideas and can lead to competition and secrecy. Rather, systems that make employees feel like their ideas are actually heard and who encourage the sharing of ideas often benefit the most from employee suggestions. You may choose to offer alternative rewards for good ideas, but stay away from cold hard cash.

Create a committee to review ideas. It’s not enough to just collect ideas - they need to be reviewed in a timely manner, and that process should be as transparent as possible. Letting employees in on the process demonstrates that you are taking their suggestions seriously and encourages further contributions.

Use successful ideas as examples. Despite how much effort you may put in, no one wants to read lengthy explanations of why their ideas were rejected. Instead, focus on those that were accepted, and how they made a difference within your organization. Modeling successful ideas is more likely to inspire additional wins.

About the author:
George Malik, the CEO of Quality First Solutions, has been in the healthcare industry for the past 30 years and has saved millions for hospitals nationwide.

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