3M’s 15% rule, aspirations, Bayer AG, brainstorm, cats in the office, creative latitude masking tape, creativity, employee engagement, employees suggestions, employees’ ideas, exploratory work, General Motors, good humour, HR Horizons, ideas, innovation, intranet portal, Khalid Nasir, Pedigree Pet Foods, platform to log ideas, playfulness, Post-It notes, Productivity, reduce vehicle assembly time, solutions corporate goals, Triple-i’, turnover synergising organisational goals with employees’ ideas
Nurturing your employees’ ideas and aspirations will not only increase your organisation’s worth as an employer, it will also promote employee engagement, productivity and innovation. In fact, one of the reasons cited for high employee turnover is an organisation’s failure to bring its employees’ ideas and aspirations to life.
Here is how line managers can help in synergising organisational goals with employees’ ideas and aspirations:
1. Encourage playing outside the lines and thinking outside the box. Allow employees creative latitude and they might just produce a winner. Inventions such as masking tape and Post-It notes were the outcome of 3M’s famous ‘15% rule’ which allowed employees to spend 15% of their time doing exploratory work.
2. Create a system to gather and implement ideas. Develop a portal or platform where employees can log their ideas and suggestions; this will give management an interesting and new perspective. The German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG collected 9,000 ideas from its employees over the course of four years through its intranet portal ‘Triple-i’ of which 32 ideas were short-listed for implementation.
3. Invite employees to suggest ideas/solutions to meet key corporate goals. Every department should contribute at least one idea to a suggestion review team that tracks progress. General Motors collected 44,000 ideas from workers in a quarter, and one plant saved $900,000 by implementing employees’ suggestions to reduce vehicle assembly time by 15%.
4. Promote creativity and good humour. Interesting ideas can bloom from playfulness so organise casual brainstorms to encourage this. It was the personal aspiration of an employee that led to Pedigree Pet Foods to keep cats in their office, so that employees would not forget their consumers.
Don’t forget to reward employees whose ideas generate revenue and growth or encourage savings. Keep listening and capitalising on your employees’ ideas before they take them to your competitors.
– Khalid Nasir
The writer is a HR practitioner and trainer; he can be contacted via LinkedIn.
First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 28, 2013.