Many organisations focus on continuous improvement as a strategy for growing and developing the business, but it can be a tremendous challenge to keep continuous improvement at the top of employees mind.
All too often employees are focused on their day-to-day role and the pressures that brings, rather than thinking about the future.
However, there is a way to help employees focus on continuous improvement and that’s through an employee ideas scheme.
Employee ideas schemes tend to be long-term programmes. However, some organisations are now developing employee idea campaigns as a short-term strategy to encourage suggestions for performance improvements while boosting employee interest and participation in the business.
What makes an employee ideas campaign work?
There are five elements of short-term tactical employee ideas campaigns that differentiate them from a long-term employee ideas award scheme:
1. Short timeframe – Employee idea campaigns are exactly that, a campaign, much like a promotional campaign. These campaigns are only run for a short duration, for example, one month, to maintain a high level of interest and excitement.
2. Carefully planned communications – The communication of an employee idea campaign must be carefully planned. The communications need to launch the campaign with a bang to generate excitement, and then continue throughout the duration to maintain interest and participation. It’s essential to plan out the communications for the whole of the campaign before you launch. Keep the communications light and fun.
3. Focus on small improvements – Successful campaigns focus on small improvements to the task or environment. Ideally they should be ideas that employees can implement themselves, or with the help of their immediate line managers. This allows the ideas to be implemented quickly and easily. However, don’t reject the bigger ideas that require more effort without justification, as employees need continual encouragement to put further ideas forward.
4. Easy to run – Because an employee ideas campaign is short-term it needs to be easy to run. If it’s a complicated campaign to run or participate in employees will become frustrated and not participate, while those that administer the scheme will begrudge the extra work and admin. Most of all make sure it is easy to submit ideas.
5. Timely evaluation process – The evaluation process needs careful consideration. The organisation needs to be able to evaluate and either approve or reject ideas in a timely fashion. If ideas take months to be approved then employees can become disengaged in the scheme, try to get management buy-in to review submitted ideas every two weeks.
Reward and recognition
Like a longer-term employee ideas scheme, recognition should be built in from the start. Consider how you will reward all employees who submit an idea through the campaign period whether their idea is implemented or not. Employer management of such campaigns can have a lasting effect on employees.
You may find that as a result more employee ideas are submitted outside the campaign period, so you should also consider how you will reward employees who submit ideas after the campaign has ended.
An employee ideas campaign is a powerful tool that senior leaders and managers can use to develop new ideas and performance improvements, inject some excitement, and boost employee interest and participation in the business. The campaign can be run by itself or alongside an existing employee ideas scheme. No-one knows where the opportunities for improvements are better than the employees doing the role, so what will you do today to realise those improvements?