The good old suggestion box for collecting employee ideas for improvement has been around for decades, if not even longer. Employers know that not every person is willing to speak up publicly when they see an opportunity for good change, so a point of collection for these ideas makes a lot of sense.
Like everything else these days, the suggestion box is migrating from the analog realm to the digital one with more companies opting for an online approach.
Is moving your suggestion box online the way to increase employee engagement and get more great ideas for improvement?
The approach certainly has some advantages.
It’s accessible to anyone from anywhere – No matter how many locations or remote workers your organization has, everyone can access an online suggestion box without the need to be present at a particular spot.
People can submit ideas right when they have them – Great ideas aren’t confined to work hours. A digital approach to improvement allows folks to submit their thoughts whenever they have them and often even on the mobile device they’ve got in their pocket.
Suggestions are less likely to get lost – Software is a great way to make sure that every submitted suggestion is logged. There’s no need to worry about little slips of paper getting lost.
Access can be controlled – Most suggestion software lets you use roles and permissions to make sure that only the authorized people can access information.
You can more easily track the number and types of suggestions – With a centralized online suggestion box, you can accurately track the number of suggestions, and the categories fall into.
There are, however, some pretty significant limitations to an online suggestion box.
Collecting suggestions is only the first step – As we explained above, replicating the physical box in the cloud has some inherent advantages, but that will just get you so far. If your digital suggestion box follows the same paradigm as the old one, you are still focused on collecting ideas, not implementing them. And that's a problem.
People don’t get excited about putting things in boxes – If employees see your online suggestion box the way they do the physical one, you aren’t likely to get more engagement. People don’t want to put their best thinking into a box that they aren’t sure will ever be opened. Whether it's in the break room or in the cloud, dropping ideas you're passionate about into a black hole isn't motivating.
It’s a one-way communication method – People put ideas into an online suggestion box, but what do they get out?
Without measurable results, enthusiasm will wane – When you introduce something new, there tends to be excitement at first, but maintaining that enthusiasm requires tangible results. If your suggestion box software only collects ideas, people won’t connect them with activities that improve the way they work and will disengage over time.
A Better Idea
If you are thinking of an online suggestion box, you are headed in the right direction, but why not take it to the next level with improvement management software instead?
Improvement workflow – Improvement software manages the collection of ideas for improvement as only the first in a series of steps that move the project down the path to success. Ideas are collected, projects are selected for action, tasks are assigned and completed, and success is measured.
Sophisticated reporting – It is one thing to be able to count the number of suggestions, but another to track the results of those ideas over the long haul. With improvement software, you can determine how each project impacts things like short and long term cost savings, customer satisfaction, time to market, and product quality.
Alerts and notification – Managing employee suggestions should be an active endeavor, not a passive one. With an improvement platform that includes alerts and notifications, you can have greater confidence that deadlines won’t be missed and that managers will be up to speed with the improvement work getting performed by their teams.
Success broadcasting – One of the best ways to get people excited about sharing their ideas is to recognize them when they do. It is also very encouraging to see peers receive accolades for their successful improvement work. A solution with built-in success broadcasting helps you do precisely that.
Is an online suggestion box better than a physical one? No question. But improvement management software is a superior approach that will help you make the most out of every brilliant idea.
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