An employee suggestion box (also known as the Idea Share Exchange application in IC’s intranet), is a traditional part of many businesses that dates back to the early 20th century. The success of a suggestion box is tied in large part to the perceived value that a suggestion box brings for both employees and management. In some businesses, the suggestion box is that dusty old box in the corner of the staff room that hasn’t been opened in years. For other companies, the suggestion box is an integral part of the company’s success.
Perhaps the most famous example of business innovation that originated from employee connection idea sharing is 3M’s “Post-It Note”. The innovative idea was originated by employee, Spencer F. Silver, who in the late 60s developed an adhesive that was strong enough to stick paper to multiple surfaces, yet weak enough not to leave residue or tear the paper when removed from the surface. His innovation took several years to come to fruition despite the fact that Silver persistently pitched it to management. It wasn’t until his adhesive was attached to a bookmark concept by a colleague, thus creating the first prototype for the now ubiquitous Post-It Note.
Successful Employee Idea Share Exchange
A successful employee idea share exchange program on your intranet requires buy-in from the employees and management, and are more likely to succeed when implemented as a campaign. Here are some guidelines for implementing an intranet powered online “suggestion box”.
- Use the right motivation. Place an emphasis on employee empowerment, personal accomplishment and contribution to company efforts as opposed to monetary rewards.
- Ask a question. Leave the employee connection idea sharing open ended. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. You want to engage employees by asking for input / suggestions on a topic.
- Make it fun. Having an online idea share exchange allows for flexibility with topics. An idea share exchange for “Where should the next Christmas party be held?”, or “Which sodas should we stock in the office refrigerator?” make the exchanges fun. If the topic is always focused on business processes, employee buy-in and contributions will dwindle over time.
- Remember employees are customers too. We use Source in-house and our employees provide feedback regularly on how to improve the product and offer suggestions on which new features they would like to use in the future.
Many companies place greater value (and larger budgets) on outside consultants to provide business analysis, or time studies to improve business processes, yet discount the ideas and suggestions of the employees who run the day-to-day business and know their jobs (and the business) better than any outsourced expert. Leveraging an idea share exchange on your business intranet to share employee ideas is an inexpensive option to high consultant fees and shows employees that their ideas are valued.
Employee Connection Idea Sharing Benefits
Here are some of the benefits that can be derived from a successful employee connection idea sharing implementation:
Deliver Better Customer Value
Employees who communicate with customers regularly hear the ideas, suggestions and complaints customers have about the company products and services. They can translate the customer input into suggestion for improvements which ultimately benefit the customer.
Increase Employee Morale & Motivation
Successful employee connection idea sharing campaigns boost employee loyalty and teamwork through employee recognition and reward.
Increase in Revenue
A significant portion of 3M’s revenue comes from the employee that originated “Post-It Notes”.
Process improvement / Cost reduction
No one knows the business better than the employees, and their ideas for improvements in business processes can save your organization time and money.
How do you leverage your intranet for employee connection idea sharing? Share your ideas with us, here!