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How Can We Encourage Employees To Submit “Bright Ideas” That Are Financially Sound?

Question

We have a bright ideas program and have received many great ideas from employees. But how do you encourage employees to submit ideas that are financially sound without discouraging them from the program or making them think that the program is only a way to save money? How can we encourage employees to think of ways to better the hospital and not simply enter complaints?

Answer

Instituting a bright ideas program (where employees are asked to share their suggestions for improvements) is an excellent way to create a culture of ownership, harvest the intellectual capital of employees, and generate huge cost savings. It’s also important to be able to say no to an idea without saying no to an employee.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Choose a Pillar to focus on for bright ideas (People, Service, Quality, Finance, or Growth). So if your organization wants to focus on cost-saving ideas, request that employees submit ideas that impact finance in a positive way.
  2. Be consistent about publicizing the ideas that are implemented. This way, employees understand what great ideas look like and are inspired to submit them on an ongoing basis because they see that they are actually being implemented.
  3. Choose one issue per month (i.e., “How can we increase patient satisfaction?” or “How can we reduce emergency department wait time?”) and ask for ideas in those areas.
  4. Have a monthly drawing for prizes by Pillar with the same number of prizes awarded in each Pillar. Employees will see that ideas in the Pillars with fewer ideas have a greater chance to win, thus encouraging others to submit additional ideas in those areas.
  5. I recommend that for leader evaluations, part of the evaluation be tied to how well the leader meets the expectation that there will be one implemented idea per employee.
  6. Explain to staff how cost-saving ideas are used. When you say, for example, that by saving $70,000, the hospital can now afford to upgrade air conditioning in the laundry, cost-saving ideas become less abstract and connect back to making a great place for employees to work, physicians to practice, and patients to receive care.