When Employees Make Suggestions

How to keep an open flow of ideas

Jun 4, 2019

Frontline employees are a company’s best line of defense.  The employees, who spend their time in daily tasks, know the ins-and-outs of how the company operates…and sometimes have suggestions on how it can operate better. Now, what if those employees never speak up or give suggestions on how to improve procedures, resources or business?  

If you have seen the movie “9 to 5”, then you’ve seen a great illustration of how important employee suggestions can be to the success of a business and how it can backfire if not handled properly.  When a company disregards employee suggestions, or worse, neglects to give them credit for implemented ideas, it sends the same message demonstrated by the boss in the movie, Mr. Hart, and causes the business to miss out on its most valuable asset.  

There are several ways you can respond to employees, build momentum, and encourage your team to share solutions, even when you can’t implement their idea.  Here are a few:  

Say “thank you”

Self-explanatory and always relevant. When someone takes the time to not only think about how things could be improved but speak up about it, let them know you appreciate it.  Valued employees are dedicated employees.  


Again, self-explanatory and important.  Give the employee credit for the suggestion and more importantly, if it’s implemented, be sure the senior staff knows it was from an employee.  This builds integrity and trust in your team and builds a foundation for employee longevity.  

Share the process

In many organizations, suggestions seem to disappear into a dark hole from which they may not emerge for months, if ever. It is important to create a plan for receiving, reviewing and processing employee suggestions, and then make that process known within the organization so that employees have a clear-cut idea of what to expect when they make suggestions.  

Tell them what happened

Follow-up is a vital part of any successful venture, and working with your team’s suggestions is no exception.  Let the employee know the outcome of their suggestion, even if you abandoned the idea. This eliminates any possibility of the employee feeling their input wasn’t valued.  

Provide more information

For ideas that you abandoned, where possible, share additional information they didn’t know. Was there a budget constraint? An obstacle with another strategic aim? A conflict with another service or the needs of another department? Transparency will foster trust and encourage the employee to continue striving towards greatness. If you have a scattered employee who continually comes up with ideas that aren’t strategically relevant, offer tips on how they can be helpful.  

Invite more solutions

If a suggestion has been rejected, encourage the employee to think through the problem with any   additional information you can provide as to why it was rejected. Not everyone will choose to think more deeply, but some will. Rather than people shutting down because they feel ignored, you will engage a powerful team of parallel processors all thinking about the problem from different angles.  

Involve them in trials or implementation

Where possible, engage your team member in testing the idea on a small scale. Ask them to test the positive effects, costs, and unforeseen consequences. The experience they gain will inform their next ideas – and they know you took their idea seriously.  

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Celebrating 40 years in staffing excellence! Contact us today

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