The suggestion systems which many companies use in order to demonstrate the importance they give to their employees have now become transformed into platforms for competing ideas. Moreover, companies now use these programs not just to placate their workforces but because they see that their ideas really do make a positive contribution to the business. The suggestions made by employees result in innovative solutions for work processes. They increase customer satisfaction, quality and productivity. In addition, savings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost and time can be made as a result of employees’ suggestions.
Toyota first introduced its suggestions system in 1951. Since 1986 it has received a total of 16.2 million suggestions from 200,000 employees. The rate of employee participation in the suggestion programs has reached 98 percent. All of the company’s employees send in suggestions, not just a single department or group. The suggestions made by Toyota employees have virtually created a corporate culture. Experts believe that managing suggestion systems for such a long time is separate business all by itself.
So how did Toyota succeed? Most importantly, unlike the systems that are applied in most companies, the suggestion system is not just seen as a ‘program’ but as an ‘instrument’ to increase employees’ motivation. The highest-ranking executive listens attentively to suggestions from the lowliest employee. The suggestions are studied by the executives within 24 hours and the employees told within 72 hours whether or not they will be implemented. The Toyota suggestion system has made the employees feel ‘valuable’.
IBM instituted a thinking area for its employees which it called the ‘ThinkPlace’. This area has become a platform where employees can comfortably develop their ideas. More than 90,000 people have participated in ThinkPlace. More than 100 of the ideas generated by the process have been deemed good enough to be implemented. IBM officials say that these ideas have resulted in an increase of 14 percent in income, a growth of 36% in cultural development and a 50% rise in productivity.
Suggestions Increase Profitability
Experts says that the evaluation of employees’ suggestions and the realization of those which can be implemented is reflected in a company’s results. The findings of a survey of 452 companies in Japan confirms the experts’ opinions. The study found that these companies received a total of 23,532,000 suggestions, of which around half were implemented. The suggestions resulted in an additional 225.3 million yen in profits.
Turkish companies, which have begun to make significant progress in terms of institutionalization and innovation, are started to appreciate their employees and give importance to their ideas. In recent years, Turkish executives have given increasingly importance to the philosophy of “the one who know the job best are those who are working at it”.
In recent years, suggestion systems have become more widely used and been utilized effectively not just abroad but in Turkey as well. These systems, which often also include incentives, have attracted considerable interest from employees in the companies in which they are implemented. Some companies, particularly the larger ones, have long been deluged with suggestions. Companies are looking to develop systems which will be able to evaluate the suggestions, choose the most creative, profitable ones and put them into practice.
Esra Bozkurt, Akbank Assistant General Manager Responsible for Human Resources, says that to date they have implemented nearly 6,000 suggestions and lists the benefits of the suggestion system as follows: “In addition to encouraging and motivating employees it also secures important benefits for our personnel and profitability, increases the utilization of products and sales of new products to customers.”