Do you ever wish that you could read the minds of your employees? This would be an especially great trick when trying to understand the mindset of workers in a younger generation. There are many thoughts and feelings that employees are reluctant to share. Mind reading would be useful - potentially terrifying, but useful.
If you have an electronic suggestion box, or are considering deploying one, we have good news. You don’t have to develop ESP to find out what younger people really think of it. We’ve had plenty of candid conversations with Millennial workers about them - and we're happy to share. In addition, the dismal results that most companies get out of them speak for themselves. Here’s what folks are likely thinking, even if they don’t come right out and say it.
The Suggestion Box Metaphor is Antiquated
An electronic suggestion box is a bit like an abacus app on your iPhone. (How cute, Grandpa.) Taking something ancient and making it digital does not make it modern. Suggestion boxes were born in a time when management alone was responsible for solving problems and implementing improvement. It made sense then that employees would anonymously deposit ideas into a box and then hope for the best. That’s not how modern employees, especially Millennials and Gen Yers, think. They want to be in on the action and take the lead when it comes to positive change. In the best performing companies today, everyone is empowered to improve, not just management.
Boxes, Even Digital Ones, Hide Things
If you look at the culture codes from some of the best places to work, places like Hubspot, Netflix, Zappos and others, one key value they have in common is transparency. They generally share as much information with employees as they can without running afoul of the law. Boxes imply the opposite of transparency, their nature is to close things off. What today’s workers want is visibility. They want to understand how the work they are doing fits into the larger picture. They want to know what’s been tried before and how well it worked out.
Recognition is Important
Millennials are very savvy about personal brand and growing their individual market value. They know that you don’t get ahead by turning your best ideas over to someone else. Sitting back and waiting for management to solve every problem does not excite or engage them. What does are acknowledgements and opportunities for personal growth. A suggestion box offers neither, even if it is in the cloud.
All of this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t deploy software to support your improvement efforts. Quite the opposite is true. Modern improvement technology has ditched the old thinking. Instead, it offers a transparent platform that seeks both ideas and engagement from employees across the organization. It offers built-in employee recognition and makes it easy for everyone to roll up their sleeves and tackle problems big and small.
Millennials will groan and roll their eyes when they read this, but it really is time to think outside of the box.