G U E S T A R T I C L E
Blast from the Past
By Micheal Hart
Capital Quality News FEB 2003 Issue 6
Contributed by : Candice Carter
The Employee involvement program
An employee involvement program is a methodology used to harness that significant employee energy and brainpower and make it part of the mainstream organizational processes. For those organizations obligated to meet the ISO 9000 version 2000 quality management standard, a successful employee involvement program will help them achieve the requirements for continuous improvement, communication and perhaps even preventative actions. In order to make any initiative a success, it must be structured, be clear and show value for the people involved. This doesn’t mean having to give away huge huge amounts to anyone with a good idea, but it does mean giving purposeful recognition of the employees involved with the concept and implementation of a performance enhancing proposal that helps an organization to either;
Achieve organizational objectives and targets
Set Improvement Criteria
By establishing the criteria for what you constitute to be a valid improvement for your organization and setting the mechanism for employees to explore and describe the potential benefits in objective language, you increase the value the employee is bringing to the table, place more responsibility on the originator of the approving their idea before they submit and streamline the process of idea submission and review. These criteria should be placed right on the submission form itself in a clear and easy manner for everyone to follow. By giving simple examples of acceptable and unacceptable completions of the form, employees will have a better chance of making sure that their idea makes it all the way to where they want it to go – the approval stage.
Adding Checkpoints and Calculations
Just asking for improvement ideas doesn’t necessarily constitute success ( and you do want every idea submission to be a success) so further steps should be taken at the initial stage to have the employee validate their ideas. Validation criteria should also be placed on the form in such a way the employee can calculate and decide for themselves whether the improvement idea is is worth putting forward or not. An example of validation criteria would be (for saving money)a section for calculating current annual losses, specific expenses required improvement project , the time it will take to recover any investment made and the annual savings after that. Similar validation checks can be established for achieving objectives and targets, increasing efficiency and reducing defects.
Establish the Process
One of the main reasons for failure of employee idea programs is the lack of communication back to the employee. Suggestion boxes are laughed at because they contain a big black hole in a locked box where ideas go in and nothing comes out. The employee involvement program being to the employees of the organization and is a conduit through which management and staff are able to work together for the common good. By establishing the process for employee involvement, you are sending a signal to the organization and inviting them to become more involved in the continual improvement process. Making the process transparent will help to ensure that no one feels left out of the loop. By having champions and experts from different areas and levels of the organization as part of the review committee, you can eliminate any us vs them stigma attached too many similar programs. The review committee would make their recommendations with final approval passed by the management team.
Many organizations will hesitate to create an employee involvement program because they feel it will cost too much money. What would you give; $25, 50$, 100$, 10%? Studies have shown that assigning monetary reward values to improvement ideas can have a negative effect on the program. Employees may feel that their idea is worth a lot more than the insignificant monetary reward that they are given just because both are assessed in dollars and cents. Take away the similarity between the value of the idea and the value of the award and employee complaints are almost eliminated. Effective recognition of the employee by all levels of the organization is an excellent way to breach that similarity in values. Recognition of an employee for good work costs the organization a fraction of monetary awards but in turn gives the employee something that is priceless.
An employee involvement program is an excellent initiative to start feeding responsibility for improvement throughout the organization. Done Properly, it can generate all manner of benefits such as increased quantity, efficiency, morale and attendance. You can also use the employee involvement program with your other employee initiatives including self directed work teams and employee empowerment.
The post has been contributed by Candice Carter. You can contact her using our contact form.
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