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Published on Sep 4
Your employees probably know their jobs better than any expert – including you and your managers. While asking employees for suggestions and encouraging them to share ideas helps to drive engagement and boost employee morale and loyalty, it can also give you an edge in business. Tapping into the new ideas of your frontline employees gives your business fresh perspectives on job performance, product ideas, cost-saving strategies, and more. Rather than just sitting a box in your break room or offering an anonymous electronic submission option, here are 4 employee suggestion programs that can help you collect thoughtful new insights from your employees.
Departmental brainstorming sessions can either be an excellent opportunity to improve your company or a huge drain on time and effort – all depending on how you use them. These meetings give your team the chance to discuss issues and provide updates about ongoing projects or efforts, but they can also be a crucial tool in your employee suggestion toolbox.
Your department’s brainstorming session is the prime time for your managers and their employees to bounce ideas off each other to help improve or grow your business. Since some employees may be reluctant or embarrassed to speak up, we suggest adopting the following strategies to help put everyone at ease:
- No criticism: In an open brainstorming session, there is no “bad” idea and all ideas are welcome.
- Quantity is key: The more ideas your staff members come up with, the better off you are.
- Building blocks: As ideas are shared, people will often build on those that were shared before.
- Outside the box: Encourage wild, crazy, and impossible ideas to simulate the flow of suggestions.
Put your staff meeting to work
While departmental brainstorming sessions can generate ideas for anything and everything under the sun relating to your business, your staff meetings can help you generate ideas about more specific topics. Use the ideas brought up during your brainstorming sessions as a starting point and ask team members to bring more specific suggestions around a choice topic to the staff meeting.
These don’t have to be fully fleshed out suggestions, but they should all revolve around the pre-defined topic sent out prior to the meeting. Giving employees more time to formulate their ideas helps them think through some of the pitfalls or drawbacks around an idea and helps them think through whether the topic is genuinely in the best interest of the company.
Dish over lunch
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an employee who would turn down free lunch, so “working lunches” can provide an ideal (and relaxed) opportunity to generate new ideas for your business. Not only will your employees feel rewarded (and appreciated) due to the free meal, but the less formal atmosphere can also encourage a greater willingness to share ideas.
Consider setting a theme for each lunch that will help employees come up with ideas in advance. If you have a particularly large staff, you may even consider breaking it up by department or mixing and mingling a set number of employees from various departments to spur additional ideas. Let employees know that these lunches are optional and that their feedback and attendance is valued.
Your managers’ meetings probably include members of your team from different departments and those that don’t always attend the staff meeting, offering an excellent opportunity to bring employee suggestions to decision-makers. Set an agenda for your meeting that reflects at least one of the topics discussed at previous staff meetings to allow your managers time to collect the top three ideas from each department to present at the managers’ meeting.
Some employees may be hesitant about bringing a suggestion to executive-level managers who could actually implement them, but may feel more comfortable talking to their departmental managers about their ideas. Ask managers to keep a notebook or digital log of employee suggestions sorted by topic. When the agenda is set for your meeting, each manager should pull their list of suggestions to identify which three they’ll bring to the meeting depending on the topic you’ve selected.
Tips you can trust
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