Employee ideas pay dividends
By Karen Dybis
Call it the power of suggestion. Companies that reward their workers for ideas on how to improve the workplace say their attention to employee suggestions is paying off.
This year, Webasto Sunroof Systems Inc. has saved $500,000 from its suggestion program. And it's a windfall for employees as well. At year's end, workers who submit cost-saving tips split a portion of the money the company saves.
"They know their jobs better than anyone else," said John Reis, vice president of human resources for Webasto.
Companies such as Webasto are dusting off the suggestion box, adding incentives to boost the idea quota at their offices. The payout can be substantial. On average, an employee idea is worth more than $500 to a company, according to Siefer Consultants in Iowa.
Last year, General Motors Corp. saved more than $35 million from an employee idea to reuse equipment at its North American plants.
Employees whose suggestions are implemented receive monetary rewards, said Reg McGhee, spokesman for the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources.
"Everyone likes to feel like they have some say, no matter who you are," said Joseph DeMaria Jr., president of DeMaria Building Co. in Detroit.
In the past eight years, DeMaria employees have suggested more than 1,200 changes to improve company safety and procedures. About 83 percent of those ideas have been implemented, DeMaria said.