total employee involvement

How Companies Can Benefit from ‘Total Employee Involvement’

When the global economy in general and the US economy, in particular, were hit by the economic crisis, many companies faced the necessity to radically cut expenses while trying to increase the productivity. The most obvious and simple way taken by many Human Resource executives was the mass employees layoff. Despite all its plainness, this measure had very short and limited positive effect. The thing is, those workers who avoided being fired had now to perform duties of several their ex-colleagues. As a result, many organizations discovered that their productivity hit rock bottom. In addition, the employees tended to quit with time unable to manage pressure.

On the other hand, some companies managed not only survive the hard times without laying off the employees but also boost their productivity while others were struggling to stay afloat. The open secret of such companies is that they asked for ideas their employees – those people who work on the front line. The reason behind this move was that hardly anyone besides them knows what processes and procedures are in the way to doing their job better. Well, they do know and see it better than CEOs. And they often have bright ideas that highly-paid executives in high cabinets just cannot think of.

Many Heads Are Better Than One

Peter E. Drucker, who is often called the father of modern business management, once said, that the only true expert – even in routine work – is the person who does the job. The vivid example to support this suggestion is the Japanese corporation Yamaha, which managed to save almost $1 million thanks to a brilliant idea of one of their average employees.

This leads us to the concept of total employee involvement. As the name implies, every company’s employee starting from the very bottom of the hierarchical ladder must be engaged in improving the organization’s products and services. That said, ideas by workers may not be limited to their level of responsibility only; they may and should go several levels above. According to the Development Dimensions International research, companies which practice total employee involvement showed the following improvements:

  • in the quality of products – by 70%
  • in customer service – by 70 %
  • in overall productivity –by 65%
  • in worker satisfaction – by 45%

Impressive, isn’t it?

Idea Campaigns

One of the less-known elements of total employee involvement is an idea campaign. What’s that? It is a specially designed program that aims at gathering as many ideas from all organization’s employees as possible in the shortest period of time possible. And don’t you dare to confuse this concept with suggestion box mounted in the dark corner of the office! Depending on the size of the company, the high-intensive idea campaigns usually last from a couple of weeks to a month. During that period, say, a hundred of employees can submit several hundreds of ideas. When held at Eglin Air Force Base, an idea campaign devoted to reducing inefficiency and increasing productivity resulted in coming up with a plan to save $400K and new practices to make more money. An agriculture giant Holy Farms manages to save $1 million thanks to over 15 thousands of ideas generated by their workers. This list may go on and on, but we’re pretty sure you’ve already got the idea, right?

Another good thing about idea campaigns is that before long they become a self-feeding process. Once employees see that the whole concept is not fake, and their ideas are implemented by the management, they start submitting more and more useful thoughts. Needless to say that eventually, this approach leads not only to boosting company’s productivity but also improving the overall workplace climate.

Hence, as an executive or a manager, you should do whatever it takes to involve your employees and motivate them to contribute to the company’s better performance. The good news is that young workers who just graduated from college or university are eager to share their ideas by default. They want to be heard, they want to see that their opinion and ideas matter, they want them to work and increase revenue for the organization. You will surely benefit if you manage to channel their energy and passion towards generating ideas instead of laying them off.