How to Set Up a Workplace Ideas Scheme

Businesses have to keep moving and innovating to survive. Yet what many companies don’t realise is that they have a major untapped resource – the ideas of their very own workforce. Engaging employees to come up with fresh ideas is one of the most valuable ways to stop a business getting stuck in a rut. For everything from new products to ways of improving services, a staff suggestion scheme will motivate staff, increase productivity, cut costs, increase profits and improve the customer experience or product.

So read on to find out how to successfully engage your workforce in an ideas scheme.

workplace ideas scheme
photo credit: recycleharmony

The Benefits of an Ideas Scheme

Major companies from Legal and General to BT have realised the benefits of ideas schemes within their organisations. In 2011, for example, HSBC made over one million pounds in savings as a result of a suggestions scheme, whilst the Ministry of Defence made savings of a massive £18 million in one year as a result of their ideas scheme. But that’s not all – not only can companies make savings, studies also show that employee engagement is increased. As engaged employees are 18% more productive and 51% less likely to leave, * then a suggestions scheme also improves employee morale and motivation – benefitting the company as a whole.

Planning a Staff Suggestions Scheme

A staff suggestion scheme needs careful planning to be a success, so your first task is to have an effectively plan for implanting the scheme. Ideas schemes can easily fall at the first hurdle if there is no business strategy in place. If your company is very large, then appointing a team to manage a suggestions scheme is a good idea. Senior management must be committed, and a system established for management of the scheme, publicising the scheme, collecting ideas, measuring the success of the scheme, reporting on results, and implementing the ideas themselves.

Implementing an Employee Suggestions Scheme

To successfully implement the scheme then you need a system for collecting and managing ideas. A cardboard box in the corner of the office is not likely to be an effective system. Today, there are numerous types of idea management software to help the process, allowing employees to easily contribute ideas and for managers to assess and handle them. This type of software also makes it easy for staff across different departments and locations to collaborate on their ideas.

Rules for Success

A study by Sheffield University showed that the most successful schemes were well supported by management, were well publicised, were regularly reviewed, and always provided rewards.

So make sure you follow these ideas schemes golden rules for success:

  • Ensure that the ideas scheme is widely publicised within the company.
  • Never humiliate an employee for an idea.
  • Be open to risk and avoid a blame culture  – sometimes ideas will fail, but never blame anyone for the idea.
  • Make sure you respond to all ideas and give feedback. Always explain why an idea cannot be implemented.
  • Reward successful ideas either financially or through recognition and awards. If you choose financial rewards remember that these can be offset against tax.

About the Author: Rob Rudd is a keen advocate of staff suggestion schemes and is eager to help companies improve their employee engagement. He lives in Portsmouth, England with his wife and children.