These 6 Ideas from Employee Suggestion Programs Boosted Company Performance

Happy Post-ItAre you planning to launch an Employee Suggestion Program (ESP)? Do you need to prove the value of employee suggestion programs to help persuade senior management?

You can benefit from employee suggestions in a variety of ways, including:

  • Increase revenues
  • Save costs
  • Improve customer service
  • Enhance safety or quality standards

Here are 6 examples of ideas from employee suggestion programs that have had a huge impact on a company’s performance:

1. New Product at 3M: Billions in Revenue

The idea to develop a semi-sticky adhesive came from 3M scientist Spencer Silver. However, Silver was unsure of what to do with the not-so-sticky glue.

Art Fry, a colleague of Silver’s, came up with the idea of the Post-It Note. Fry realized that this special adhesive would solve the problem of his bookmarks falling out of his hymn book.

Post-It Notes are now the key product of a 3M division that posted revenues of $3.47 billion in 2009 according to New York Times. Employee suggestion programs can help your company too tap into new product ideas – and millions (or even billions!) in revenue.

2. Big Cost Savings at Boardroom, Inc.

Publishing company, Boardroom, takes idea generation seriously. All employees, at all levels, are asked to contribute at least two suggestions per week on how to improve their own effectiveness, their departments’ effectiveness or the effectiveness of the company as a whole.

A Boardroom employee came up with the idea to slightly reduce the size of books so they could be posted at a lower rate. This simple idea saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Simple ideas can make a big difference. What small changes can you make to help your company get big cost savings?

3. New Loyalty Program at

Amazon’s internal website features a virtual idea box. And that’s how free shipping was first suggested by Amazon software engineer Charlie Ward. His idea was later developed into the Prime program.

Prime is a loyalty program combining the powerful attraction of free shipping and the customer’s desire to get products within two days. The result of this loyalty program? Analysts suggest that Prime customers increase their purchases by 150% after joining the program. This translates into billions of dollars in additional revenue for Amazon.

Turning occasional buyers into repeat customers is often seen as the holy grail of revenue growth. Can you use an Employee Suggestion Program to harvest the creativity of your employees and turn one-time buyers into loyal customers?

4. Improved Safety at Alcoa

At Alcoa, employees are offered incentives for suggestions that save costs or improve safety. An annual celebration is organized to recognize outstanding employees and sites. Alcoa believes that:

“…[our] employees will be safer and more productive if they are engaged in making suggestions for improvement and are listened to by management.”

Each year employees suggest thousands of ideas through Alcoa’s Employee Suggestion Program. Simple ideas often lead to safety improvements. The Wheel Spinner, for instance, was developed to reduce the risk of injury when rotating wheels on heavy equipment.

Can you increase safety by empowering your staff with an Employee Suggestion Scheme?

5. Cost Savings at British Airways

British Airways launched an online suggestion box to help reduce emissions and cut fuel bills. One unusual idea was to reduce airplane weight by descaling toilet pipes. This idea cuts fuel bills annually by $900,000!

Seeking employees on a specific topic can generate more ideas. Moreover, it can make it easier to manage and implement suggestions.

How can you steer idea generation to maximize the benefits of your ESP?

6. Better Customer Service at Winnebago Industries

In their book, Ideas are Free, Robinson and Schroeder describe how vehicle maker Winnebago Industries used to install both regular and deluxe speakers for its sound system upgrade. As the regular speakers were never connected, customers often brought vehicles back to complain that their speakers were not working.

A simple suggestion to skip installing the redundant speakers not only saved costs, it also stopped customers bringing back their vehicles to fix the speakers.

What employee ideas can help your company improve customer service now?

The Power of Ideas from Employee Suggestion Programs

Each day employees encounter small problems and challenges at work. Each problem can spark ideas for improvements. You can harvest these ideas to improve your company’s performance.

These six examples of employee suggestions have shown that simple ideas can have a huge impact on revenues, costs, and safety. Above all, an employee suggestion program can engage employees and make them feel valued.

To get new information we publish on employee suggestion programs, sign up using the box at the top-right. Companies of all sizes (from Fortune-500s to growing startups) use software from IdeaGlow to build their own employee suggestion programs. IdeaGlow is affordably priced and relatively easy to implement. If you’re interested, you can apply for a FREE trial.

Leila Durmaz

Hello, I'm your author, Leila Durmaz. I spend a lot of my time researching the best practices for innovation management, and writing articles to share them. I hope you find them helpful! I work at Accompa - one of our products is IdeaGlow innovation management software.

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