Support through your toughest HR challenges: A network of 285,000 HR professionals.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
People age 55 and older, women and HR professionals are among employees who make workplace suggestions more often than others, according to findings released Feb. 23, 2010.
Right Management, a subsidiary of Manpower employment services, conducted the online survey Jan. 20-Feb. 15, 2010, through LinkedIn.
“We find that employees really want to be heard,” Right Management’s senior vice president of global solutions, Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier, said in a news release. “Making suggestions signals they are thinking about the performance of the organization and want to contribute over and beyond the requirements of the job. And this can be seen as a great opportunity by employers—if they know how to take advantage of it.”
Among the findings:
There is little evidence, though, that employers truly listen to employee suggestions or try to benefit from their enthusiasm and perspective, according to Schroeder-Saulnier.
Granted, some suggestions can be over the top—such as bikini Friday, adding beer to the vending machines, adding a tanning bed and allowing an employee to replace a desk with a futon.
However, Right Management’s research shows that feeling valued by senior leaders and having their opinions count are two top drivers of employee engagement, Schroeder-Saulnier said.
“Listening to workers is especially important, because more and more people want to feel they are playing an active part in what happens in the organization,” she noted.
The best way to implement and handle a workplace suggestion system is among topics Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) members raise on SHRM’s HR Talk, an online bulletin board.
“The biggest issue is that [if] you ask, you better be prepared to respond, otherwise the program does more harm than good,” one SHRM member wrote in a posting. “We had a coordinator [who] forwarded suggestions to the appropriate manager/VP, who then was supposed to respond within 30 days. Eventually, the suggestions got backlogged into months and the program died off.”
Ideas that saved his employer money did not go through the suggestion program. Instead, they tended to be more project-oriented, with the respective manager or department employees implementing ideas without going through the organization’s more formal suggestion program.
High-level support is important, though, he pointed out.
“All that said, if top management supports it and you have someone to devote the time to making it work, it’ll be a good thing.”
Another person noted the importance of acknowledging every idea and explaining why it was or was not used.
“Nothing people hate more than taking the time to make a suggestion and then never hearing about it again.”
One SHRM member’s organization put an icon on employee desktops to make it easier to submit ideas for the company’s fall 2009 Cost Save initiative. Ideas submitted via the icon were linked to a database, and an administrator tracked and updated submissions.
“Someone has to own the project, though, and be ready for feedback,” that person wrote. Persons whose ideas were used received verbal recognition.
For another HR professional, semantics matter when it comes to encouraging employee voices.
“I don’t want to hear anyone’s suggestions, I want to hear solutions,” wrote this person, who advocates using a “solution” rather than a “suggestion” box.
Taking ownership of ideas is important, according to Schroeder-Saulnier.
“Be sure employees feel heard and have the chance not just to share ideas,” she said, “but to make them happen.”
Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies