Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Saswatabanerjee
Partner - Risk Management
Nathrao
Insolvency N Gst Professional
Nashbramhall
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Sushaeel
Founder
+1 Other

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Friends, I have been a startup founder for past 14 years and having worked with mostly small teams, we never had specific programs like suggestion scheme. I wish to hear and learn what challenges you all face in getting employee engagement / suggestion scheme implemented and whether you think technologies like Smartphone Apps could be of any help.
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Dear Sushaeel,

The outcome of the suggestions scheme is threefold i.e. reduction in cost, reduction in process turnaround time or reduction in consumption of resources. Any suggestion has to address at least one outcome. Since you are running a start up, your employee strength will not be that high. Therefore, why not to conduct the brainstorming session? I do not know the efficacy of the mobile Apps for launching employee suggestions programme, nevertheless, at this stage you may not need App.

Idea generation by the employees depends on employees' task motivation, mental engagement with their superior or the company itself etc. This is also not sufficient. To generate the ideas you need to someone who gives stimulus. I had once conducted brainstorming session to the engineers of the cement producing plant. The plant is in operation for the last 25 years and it is rated as 10th most energy efficient plant. In the last five years they had implemented 1,000+ employee suggestions. This is how they had called me to conduct the brainstorming session. Against this backdrop, I could generate 19 innovative ideas from 39 participants. The participants openly admitted that some external consultant only could have done this. Therefore, feel free to contact me for further information.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar


A very interesting perspective.
There is so much of interpersonal issues, that most of the employees will not give all their ideas during an internal brain stroking.
They are scared of redicule for radical idea, or of obvious faults being pointed out in their pet ideआस।
But does this internal brain storming and idea sessions don't actually work without an outside push ?
Dear Mr Saswant Banerjee,

You have written that "But does this internal brain storming and idea sessions don't actually work without an outside push ?". Let me tell you why hiring external facilitators are effective.

First and foremost when the brainstorming is conducted internally, wearisome constancy kills its spirit. Everyday they see the same persons around them. This sameness of the environment, people with whom they associate blocks the idea generation.

Secondly, facilitation is an art. External trainers or facilitators of course master this art to the core. They know how to release the stress of the participants. In my previous post, I have mentioned instance of brainstorming session. Nevertheless, this is one single instance. I conduct many times games and simulations and later tell the participants to come with the ideas for intra-departmental collaboration. Sometimes results astonished everybody. But then problem is for the sake of few thousand Rupees, business owners do not hire external persons and prefer to deprive themselves of the ideas worth of Lakhs of Rupees.

When I conduct simulation on collaboration, that is developed indigenously, I give commitment of ROI. Of course ROI depends on the nature of the participants, their authority, work environment, how far their boss is scary etc.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar
Thank you Mr. Dinesh for your suggestions and an illustration of how external stimuli could help in getting the team to break the ice. As I said, with small teams and office spaces that have no cubicles, I guess, brainstorming is happening all the time, at least we have that culture in our little startup.
My point was more around what all challenges are big organisations (say 500+ employees) facing in their day to day suggestion scheme implementations. I have been seeing some very well implemented schemes running at few well known manufacturing companies around Chakan, Pune but have no idea what % of companies really have such models.
Dear Sushaeel,

You have written that "As I said, with small teams and office spaces that have no cubicles, I guess, brainstorming is happening all the time, at least we have that culture in our little startup." These are your perceptions. Nevertheless, what matters is that the perception does not turn out into a myth. Whatever suggestions you have got could be like top of the iceberg. Like unseen part of the iceberg, there are hidden ideas in the brains of the employees. Few are hidden unintentionally and few intentionally.

Day in and day out I conduct the training. I have conducted training for participants who were from 40+ industries. My experience is contrary. Participants consider outsider trainer like me safe to express their dissatisfaction. There is no evidence to show that small-sized company employees have small dissatisfaction.

First sentence of my first reply in thread read "The outcome of the suggestions scheme is threefold i.e. reduction in cost, reduction in process turnaround time or reduction in consumption of resources.". Now what was increased or decreased because of the employee suggestions scheme of your company that you would know best.

In your company, what is the ratio of ideas generated per person per annum? What is the revenue saved per annum by implementing the ideas? What rewards did you give for the best idea of the year? Whether you run a start up or 500-employee company or 5,000-employee company, what matters is staying organised. Do you have organised records of idea generation and their implementation further? Do you use these records in your induction training?

Lastly, you have written that " I have been seeing some very well implemented schemes running at few well known manufacturing companies around Chakan, Pune but have no idea what % of companies really have such models." If you know these schemes, if you also know their workability at other companies, then why not to implement in your company as well? Why bother about how many companies have suggestions model and how many do not have? How does it matter to you?

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar
Dear Dinesh,

I think there is some grave mis-understanding out here. The topic was intended to create a general discussion on challenges faced by fellow HR / Quality professionals (by the way I am founder and also play the HR role at my little startup) and by that learn the pros and cons of running a suggestion scheme.

I guess you are doing great by pitching how and why your services would be useful and effective but that was not my point. Having worked in organisations like HSBC and Morgan Stanley in US and UK for 4-5 years in scenarios where there is one HR per 1000 employees and the immediate manager has to be double up as a HR, I have been through those roles too.

The way you question my interest, I guess you are challenging the very reason why this portal or group exists. I am seeking to learn and understand from others which otherwise is not possible on other platforms.

So please, if you have anything to share apart from questions, that would be welcome and benefit the larger group. I do appreciate your enthusiasm though, so no heart feelings please.

Regards,

Sushil
Dear Sushil,
Please permit me to make a general observation and make an appeal to other members in this forum. If we give full background information about ourselves and why we are raising the query, it helps members to give precise answers. Otherwise, it is left to members assumptions and perception of what the query is about. Had you informed us that you had worked in large organisations before starting up as a founder and your intention was to generate a general discussion, it would not have created any misunderstanding.
Hence, I appeal to all members raising a query kindly to give as much background information about self and the scenario and the real reason for raising a query.
Benefits of a staff suggestion scheme:

Improvement in staff morale

Increase in job satisfaction

Creation of a feeling of ownership and engagement

Building of team spirit

Reduction in costs and increase in profitability

Increase in revenue inflow

and most important improvement in customer satisfaction

For running a staff suggestion scheme senior management support is vital and overall company culture is important.

A link to one scheme; http://www.easterncoal.gov.in/notices/empsuggscheme.pdf

Latest technology plays a role in quick and easy communication.

It can be seen that well formatted and developed developed suggestion schemes mainly have the aim of collection of ideas from operational-level employees in order to improve standardised procedures and raise quality. Floor level workers are ones who can really come out with tips.

Dunn and Lloyd (1997) offer the definition,

A suggestion scheme is a formal mechanism, which encourages employees to contribute constructive ideas for improving their organisation‟

If response time to implement employee suggestions are quick then more suggestions will come up.Many a time people are cynical-what is the point of giving suggestion,it never gets implemented.

Idea management software tools may also be used.Even free ones like Idea Torrent can be used.

I am all for involving every section of the factory/office to be involved in idea generation and also having a reward scheme for best ideas-not necessarily monetary in nature,but simple public recognition may be more of a motivation.
Dear Mr. Sushaeel,
As my experience, the most challenge in getting employee engagement is that employer and HR don't invest enough time, money and effort in this issue, especially in small enterprises. It doesn't necessarily mean that high salary and generous benefits will get your employees engaged. You may find some useful suggestion ideas at 10 Practical Ways to Buy Employee Engagement without Money

Hope this helps!
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