One Simple Change to Upgrade Your Employee Suggestion Program

Puzzle LadderA properly-structured employee suggestion program (ESP) can provide incredible opportunities for your organization to grow. However, there is one element a lot of successful ESPs share – is it missing from yours?

According to researchers Anita L. Tucker and Sara J. Singer from the Harvard Business School, the key to operating a successful employee suggestion program is to focus on small problems in day-to-day operations, rather than grand-scheme projects.

Here are some reasons why ranking suggestions by the ease of implementation can help you get the most out of your suggestion program.

Analyzing Problems vs. Taking Action

The “analysis” approach means identifying and attempting to solve highly complicated issues. It requires an immense amount of planning and effort before actually executing the solution.

The “action” approach focuses on fixing easy-to-solve problems and requires little to no advance analysis or planning. In the study, Tucker and Singer found that adopting the “action” approach in hospitals encouraged employees to take a more active stance on solving problems.

According to Tucker…

“They’re not going to get better by picking the right problem. They’re going to get better by becoming better problem-solvers.” Tweet this!

This means your employees need to understand what actions they can take that will lead to a positive outcome.

So how can you help your employees become better problem solvers and boost your suggestion program?

Steps to Find and Fix What Falls Through the Cracks

  • Prioritize employee suggestions based on what can be done here and now. Are there any suggestions that can be implemented this week or next? Which suggestions have the shortest timelines? These will often include safety concerns, company procedures, working conditions, etc.
  • Guide employees to focus on suggestions that take a more “action”-oriented approach. What can they do that won’t require a detailed plan? Make sure to give them constant feedback.
  • Create a checklist for the more complicated issues so they can be solved one step at a time. Focus on each step and treat it like one simple problem.

In order to operate a successful employee suggestion program, ensure that your company prioritizes simple solutions to simple problems, rather than struggling with how to solve the colossal roadblocks. Encourage your employees to offer a wide variety of ideas, no matter how simple they may seem. Your small solutions can even act as stepping stones to tackle your organization’s biggest concerns.

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Lauren MacLeod

Hello, I'm your author, Lauren MacLeod. I spend a lot of my time researching the best practices for Employee Suggestion Programs, and writing articles to share them. I hope you find them helpful! I work at Accompa - one of our products is IdeaGlow Employee Suggestion Program Software.

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