Employee suggestion systems are designed to encourage active cooperation of employees in the activities of business and industry through seeking ideas for cost reduction or cost prevention or increasing productivity or efficiency from the rank and file. The suggestion systems facilitate upward flow of communication—a type of communication that is very much needed in industry.
Suggestion systems are important features of quality control circles. QCCs that have completed their projects submit their suggestions to a committee, which reviews and grades them. Often, suggestions are posted individually on the notice boards at the workplace in order to encourage competition among workers and groups. Suggestions are usually rewarded with cash payments.
Another important aspect of the suggestion system is that each suggestion, once implemented, leads to revised standards. For instance, a special foolproof device that has been installed on a machine at a worker’s suggestion may warrant the worker to work differently and, at times, more attentively.
Managers must listen to the voice of the employees in order to implement the suggestion system in the organization. By listening to this, the organization can receive feedback and help ensure a thriving TQM effort.
Before starting any suggestion system, the managers must assess the current state of employee relations, identify trends, measure the effectiveness of programme implementation, identify needs, improvements, and increase communication effectiveness. The best way to accomplish this activity is to conduct employee surveys.
1. Benefits of the Suggestion System
Some important benefits of using a suggestion system are:
- Improves employer-employee relationships
- Is an employee benefit scheme
- Tends to increase the morale of the workforce
- Acts as a good means of communication
- Commits the workforce to take active interest in their work and the company
- Provides management with an organized way of handling their ideas
- Constitutes an important tool of management “to feel the pulse” of the rank file
2. Standards for the Suggestion Scheme
- The suggestion scheme should have the wholehearted support of the top management. The responsibility for the operation of the suggestion system must be assigned to a management official, usually in the personnel department, who has to find ways and means to stimulate employee ideas.
- The rules and the processing operation of suggestions must be clearly explained to the employees. Sometimes the employees are informed about the kinds of problems faced by the company so that suggestions are given keeping these issues in mind.
- All suggestions should be promptly acknowledged and evaluated. If a particular suggestion is rejected, an explanation must be given for the rejection.
- Awards for acceptable suggestions should be monetary and on the liberal side, usually 15-30 per cent of the first year’s net savings.
- The award winners must be given widespread publicity through in-house journals, newspapers, company reports, meetings, etc.
3. Procedure for Introducing Suggestion Systems
- Introduction: In introducing and operating an employee suggestion scheme, it is necessary for management to formulate the following principles:
- The employees are intelligent enough to think constructively about their jobs.
- There is always room for improvement in the company operations.
- The management can gain from the ideas of employees.
- The employees can contribute more than just a day’s work.
- Receiving suggestions: The suggestions are received through:
- Suggestion box: It is an invitation to employees to share their ideas to improve the functioning of the organization. Here, employees put forth their views and suggestions in a box. Once in a week or as per the company’s policies, suggestions are reviewed. If suggestions are rejected, it should be communicated with proper explanation.
- Attitude survey: These surveys are extremely useful to understand the state-of-art and appreciation of the future direction of the organization. Since the participants do not have to reveal their identity, this is seen as a good opportunity to share views, feelings, likes, dislikes and opinions freely. These surveys are efficient as sufficient data can be generated at low cost and within a short duration. They can also be useful for establishing trends if they are done at frequent intervals.
- Exit interview: Some organizations have a policy of having a discussion with employees who have left or are on the verge of leaving the organization since such employees can freely discuss impressions and opinions on a variety of organizational aspects. If conducted well, it can generate some very useful information that can be used to improve the functioning of the organization.
- Quality circles: Quality circles promotes team work and provide scope of interaction among employees for sharing their ideas, joint decision making, logical and systematic thinking and give them responsibility of implementation.
- Others: Open-door policy, meetings, seminars, workshops, conferences and social get togethers.
- Processing suggestions: The suggestions are processed either by the management alone or by a suggestion committee comprising representatives of both the management and employees. The relevant suggestions are selected for testing and then implementation.
- Implementing suggestions: The most important thing that the management looks for in a suggestion is whether it will improve the operations of the firm in any sphere. If the employee’s suggestion is tested and found to have direct value for the firm, this value is the pay-off to the industry for operating the suggestion system. The suggestion award is the pay-off to the employee for his contribution. Through the scheme, the management comes to know about the fairly bright, intelligent and alert employees and the departments for which they are working.
Source: Poornima M. Charantimath (2017), Total Quality Management, Pearson; 3rd edition.