5 Tips to Tap Employee Ideas & Build an Employee Suggestion Program

“Would your employees act differently if they actually owned your company…?” – Bilbrey and Jones (Ordinary Greatness: It’s Where You Least Expect It…Everywhere)

Innovative ideas drive a company’s success.

Whether it is creating new products, improving existing products, or finding more efficient workflows, innovation keeps a company at the forefront. So where do these innovative ideas come from and how can you tap into them?

A very important source of innovative ideas is: Employees. How so?

Because employees are on the front lines. They are directly interacting with customers every day, and doing hands-on work to build the products. As a result, employees know what customers are saying, how products work, and how products can be improved. So, how do you tap into employee ideas?

By building a successful Employee Suggestion Program.

Here are 5 tips you can use to build your employee suggestion programs:

1. Create sense of ownership
Many companies try to use money as the primary factor to drive employee ideas. This usually doesn’t work well. Employees also need the feeling of ownership—a sense that it is their duty and their right to be involved.

Taking pride in their company and knowing that their ideas are helping the company succeed are important motivating factors.

2. Seek ideas on specific topics
Create a list of topics based on your top corporate objectives and related challenges. Then seek ideas on these topics – one topic at a time, via questions that are results-oriented without limiting the type of ideas. This type of focus can often unleash creativity of employees.

3. Encourage wide variety of ideas
Encourage employees from different departments, ranks, and geographies to share ideas. This will enable you to gather a wide variety of ideas from many different perspectives. This can give you a big advantage.

4. Make it fun
Create an environment where employees can come together and brainstorm. Whether that is through meetings or idea management software, constructing an environment that is fun, friendly, and non-judgmental is vital for employees to share their ideas freely.

Remind employees that great ideas rarely sound “normal.” Who would have thought a game of smashing angry birds into green pigs would be a big hit?

5. Encourage voluntary participation
Forcing employees to participate usually doesn’t work well because we can’t force someone to be creative. Encourage employee participation by communicating the benefits of their ideas to your organization, your customers, as well as employees themselves.

Hope you found these tips helpful. You might want to check out our previous article regarding benefits of employee suggestion programs too.

Suggestions for further reading:

Alex Ramirez

Hello, I'm your author, Alex Ramirez. 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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