Your employees can be your best resource for improvement ideas!

Are you looking for new ways to increase employee engagement? Do you want to tap into the most underutilized resource in your company? If you are not seeing massive improvements in your existing employee suggestion program, then you do not have the right system in place.

Best Practices for Capturing New Ideas

To start increasing employee suggestions for company improvement, you need a system in place and not just a temporary initiative or a one time effort. Take the time to create a sustainable program and devote the time needed to obtain long term results and long term savings. Plan regular meetings to discuss how to make things better. Put your employees first by creating a positive culture that supports all ideas no matter how small. All of these efforts will lead to a continuous improvement culture that will lead to overall savings and increased employee engagement.

Step 1: Capturing The Best Ideas

Kickoff your idea suggestion program with a fun, low-key meeting that encourages all employees to participate. Don’t forget to tell your team what type of ideas you want to capture and introduce them to the concept of Continuous Improvement. (CI aligns all projects to organizational goals and measures them with KPI’s.) To keep the program top of mind, post and send various reminders at regular intervals. Think about what will work best for your team and organization. Will regular emails with a link to the online suggestion program help? Can you place a poster near the water cooler or breakroom? Also, remind managers to make sure daily huddles, and regular team meetings have an agenda item for “Improvement projects and Improvement ideas”. Give employees plenty of time to participate and various reminders. Set a corporate-wide challenge to have every employee submit an idea a couple of weeks into the program and have a recognition ceremony for some of the top ideas. Demonstrated change and success will continue to motivate employees to seek positive change and continue participating.

Download Idea Capture Tools: FREE Downloadable Posters now

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Step 2: Speed Up Idea Generation

What happens if idea generation stalls? Consider recognizing employees with words of praise or public recognition, often small affirmations are all that is needed. If the new ideas result in improvements to the way work is done, the intrinsic satisfaction should be enough to keep more ideas coming. Some employees are motivated by friendly competition. Think about offering the team with the most ideas a team lunch or $5 gift cards. It’s also best practice to be able to generate new ideas during meetings or let users contribute anonymously–just make sure they all get recorded in your Idea Funnel. Don’t forget to acknowledge every single suggestion for improvement with an email or thank you so employees keep submitting ideas!

Be careful with cash spiffs and rewards, they should only be used occasionally as there is a risk that you will get a quantity of ideas instead of quality ideas.

Step 3: Prioritize Your Idea Funnel with Effort vs. Impact Matrix

Once your ideas are collected, it’s time to decide which ideas to work on first. Your first step is to sort ideas based on the amount of effort required and how much impact (or benefit) the idea will have on the organization. To start, focus on ideas that can be implemented using existing resources and will have a large impact immediately. (Also, feel free to break large projects into smaller ones.) Next, focus on ideas that need leaders, but still have a substantial impact. Consider ideas that will require substantial resources or have smaller benefits (savings) further down on the list. Maintaining a list of ideas, even if they cannot be converted into projects soon is beneficial. If someone shares an idea several times, you can show them that the idea is in the idea funnel and it is sitting behind other ideas. This will let them know that the idea is not a bad one, but it may not be the right time to implement it.

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Step 4: Find Resources & Follow-up

At this point, it’s time to take action. Find and assign project leaders who can turn these ideas into actionable projects and move them forward. Meet with a potential project leader to discuss timing and the steps involved to determine an appropriate workflow. Set deadlines together and meet regularly to discuss the status of the project. Review the project in KPI Fire to check the status and offer the project leader support when needed. Your attitude towards the success of the project will go a long way.

If you have more ideas than you have project leaders who can work on them, then it may be time to recruit some more people into the project leader role for improvement projects. Are you leading the Improvement program, you should consider working with your Human Resources department to identify potential candidates?  If your company has a formal career development track, then this is a great place to give potential leaders or anyone who wants to get ahead in the organization a place to put some of their energy and enthusiasm.  Additionally, every company needs more problem solvers who can take good ideas and run with them.

Step 5: Share Successes

To encourage a successful continuous improvement culture, it’s important to constantly share large and small successes during execution. Have program meetings letting employees know which ideas were executed and why. Give kudos and recognition to all the people who made it happen letting everyone know that their improvements are valued and encouraged. You want your employees to know that people who take the time and effort to make things better will be rewarded. Publicly discussing successes in the employee suggestion program will gain support for future projects and will lead to a successful continuous improvement culture. It will also motivate employees to participate in future project initiatives.

Watch a video on Focus the Effort–Lessons Learned While Driving Change

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Every company needs more problem solvers. Give your team a structured system to solve problems, give them KPI Fire.

For more information or to learn how KPI Fire could help you get more out of employee ideas, contact us here.