Employees: A Wealth of Untapped Knowledge

1433916_33601185If you’re searching for a solution to a vexing problem at your company, you have three choices:

  • Figure it out yourself.
  • Retain a consultant.
  • Ask your staff.

Often, the third option is the most successful.  When it comes to knowing your customers and operations, your employees are the most valuable resource.

They know what works and what doesn’t.  Soliciting advice from the entire staff — entry level to top management, part-time and full-time — provides a golden opportunity to make improvements that empower your workforce and increase your bottom line.

To get thoughtful and practical suggestions, set up a cash reward, consider following these guidelines:

  • Explain the issues thoroughly in terms of company goals. Otherwise, you’re liable to get flooded with gripes and general musings that won’t help.
  • Tie the reward to financial results. If a suggestion saves the company $40,000, a five percent reward is $2,000.  That’s a nice incentive.  You can also link the incentive to revenue and profit gains.
  • Award the winner publicly. Hold a modest award ceremony.  This shows employees that the program is important to your organization.

Another Reason to Elicit Feedback

When it comes to best business practices, employee feedback is near the top of the list.  A company that excels in this area is a place where employees are “engaged,” or fully involved in all aspects of the operation.  It’s a place where employees’ opinions are elicited, valued and acted upon.

Too often, feedback and engagement are kept in survey form.  But that should just be the beginning – keep the communication going through e-mail, bulletin boards, hot lines, newsletters, questionnaires, town hall meetings, and team and focus groups.

The Flow of Information

Nothing cripples an organization more than a work environment where information is shared only on a need-to-know basis.

Naturally, certain sensitive information — involving security or litigation — cannot always be freely exchanged.  However, there’s no need to withhold information from employees that the company uses in making day-to-day decisions.

Important: Keeping employees involved can have a positive effect on the bottom line.  Studies have shown a correlation between communication, employee retention and revenue growth.  The more access employees have to information, the less likely they are to leave the firm.  So open up and make your staff feel like they’re members of a team.

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