It is commonly said that the employees of a company are its most valuable resource. This is true on many different levels. Of course, employees are necessary for getting the day to day work done in any business, and without them, the company would quickly have to be shut down. What is perhaps more important, however, is the ability the employees have to influence change in a positive way.
Companies require continuous ongoing improvements to be made, or the competition will quickly move in with innovative new ideas. These improvements can come from many different places, including the management team, outside influences and, most often, the employees. Some of the most important changes and innovations in any company can come directly from the employees, because they are the ones who are doing the work every day. They will be the ones that can see the problems, both big and small, and help to come up with the solutions.
It is essential, however, to help foster an environment where employees are engaged with the company. Where they will actively look for improvement opportunities, and take the next steps toward getting these changes made. There are many things employers can do to help get their employees more involved, and when done properly, it can result in a change in culture, which can help benefit nearly every area of the company.
One of the biggest things a company can do to help get the employees more involved is to provide positive encouragement with all new ideas and suggestions that come from the employees. In many cases, an idea won’t pan out or it won’t be possible. This can be very discouraging to an employee, who put themselves out there with their suggestion, only to have it turned down. It is important for the management team to focus on the fact that bringing the suggestion up was a positive thing.
This type of encouragement can be in verbal accolades, written ‘thank you’ notes, a positive review, or any number of other ways. The important thing is that the employees (both the individual who brought forth the idea, and everyone else in the area) know that when they come up with new ideas, the company will appreciate it.
Allow Time for Improvement Ideas
When someone has an idea for how they can improve their workplace, or the facility as a whole, they should be given some time to focus on that idea. Even if it means they won’t be getting their normal work done, it is a good short term sacrifice for a possible long term improvement. Some companies offer employees up to 10-15% of their time to work on ‘pet projects.’ This could be anything from an innovative new product to a new way to complete an existing job. Allowing for the time to work on these types of things will help improve the facilities working environment, and help to foster improvements.
Recognizing the success of the employees is going to go a long way toward helping develop an environment where everyone wants to work hard and innovate. If someone makes a suggestion on how to change a particular task, and it ends up making that job easier or more efficient, this success should be celebrated. This type of celebration can be done publicly, and ideally should last as long as possible.
Re-naming that job activity after the individual who came up with the innovation, for example, will not only be recognizing the individual, but also showing others that their ideas are appreciated. Over time, it will become very obvious that the facility is looking for improvements to come from the employees, which will help encourage others to bring their ideas to the right people, so they can be considered.