Ignoring staff ideas can prove costly, warns survey

Dec 13 2004 by Nic Paton Print This Article

They may often seem trivial, irrelevant or downright silly, but ideas generated by staff can be worth hundreds and thousands of pounds, a study has suggested.

The research by the journal IRS Employment Review has concluded that, while some suggestion schemes fail to engage employees and are eventually closed down, others can lead to higher sales, more efficient ways of working and lower costs.

Suggestions schemes commonly offer staff cash rewards or other incentives for coming up with ideas to improve the business or new products or ways of working.

Almost all the organisations polled – 96 per cent – wanted their suggestion schemes to bring greater staff involvement, followed by improvements in how they operated.

And while cash rewards played their part, employers believed workers placed more value on the recognition they received for their efforts.

Asked to put an annual value of their suggestion schemes to their company, organisations such as Siemens said £750,000, Pfizer £250,000 and Chessington World of Adventures £50,000.

IRS Employment Review managing editor Mark Crail said: “You don't have to be Einstein to have a good idea, but it takes a good manager to recognise a staff suggestion that can improve a company’s performance and put it into practice.”

A suggestion scheme box that sat empty and ignored on the canteen wall was simply an unwanted, token attempt at employee involvement and so destined to achieve

little, he added.

“It requires effort on the part of employers to keep the suggestion scheme live. The best schemes deal with suggestions quickly and efficiently, implement those that are worth doing, and make sure the effect is measured and fed back to managers and employees,” he concluded.