During a recent factory tour, the VP of operations paused in front of a wall of employee photos to tell me how his company rewards money-saving ideas. “I got $6,000 last year for mine,” a customer service manager chimed in behind us. It’s not a new idea, but it seems too simple and too good not to do it.
It goes like this:
Install a suggestion box in the break room to solicit money-saving ideas. Once approved and implemented, half of the first year's savings is paid to the employee in cash. Since 1994 at this particular company, the effort has yielded annual savings of $1,500,000 and payments to employees of $750,000.
You’ve heard it before: the men and women doing the work know best how to get it done efficiently. Moving into another hallway closer to the factory, I noted the rows of bulletin boards showing production output and other stats, current and historical, for all to see—another indicator of an involved workforce.
We donned glasses and ear plugs to enter the plant, and I surveyed the floor and workstations. Tidy and clean. Check. (You should know that I judge new friends and companies by how clean their kitchen and factory floors are.) I was also impressed by how the technicians looked up, gave us a quick nod and smiled. I asked how new machinery and tool selections were made. No surprise: The technicians choose, and thereby “own” the machine and the process.
What excellent glass company was so impressive in the face of fluctuating job scheduling, production crunches, costly lulls and capital investment in a tough economy that requires fresh ideas to stay alive? Not a glass company at all; it was Glass Magazine’s printer, Dartmouth Printing. They even provided the page from their policy manual so I could share it with you as a template. Click here to download The Employee Suggestion Program PDF.
I forgot to ask to see the suggestion box—lunch boxes were waiting—but like the factory floor, I know it is dust-free and primed to give back.
Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.