Remember the corporate suggestion box? It was a straightforward way to empower your staff and let everybody, from the receptionist down to the caretaker, voice their opinions. Well, thanks to collaboration software, the corporate online suggestion box is making a comeback and it is better than ever.
Nowadays large companies can have vast amounts of employees out in the field or on the ground, and they all run into problems in their working day.
These problems can mount up and impact on your business on a day-to-day basis, so it makes sense to give those people a direct line to the management.
Every small issue that you can address, and fix will ensure your business runs more efficiently and effectively, which in the end will boost your profits.
Today’s collaboration software can help you separate suggestions into any number of other topics, such as operations and social responsibility, which can help you prioritise the suggestions or divert them to an appropriate manager.
Employees can have access through their smartphones and report issues as they happen, which will encourage them to flag the issue. If they must wait until they are in the office, an employee will often simply opt to suffer in silence. This obviously isn’t good for your business.
The potential effects
Some of the best ideas will come from your people on the ground and if you truly open the floor to your staff with an online suggestion box, you’ll be amazed at the effect it has.
First, it will boost morale; one of the most common complaints of the workforce is that they are not being listened to by management and there are no open lines of communication.
Incorporate a suggestion facility into your collaboration software and make sure there is a mechanism to respond to them and you’ll find it helps to create an open dialogue within the company that contributes to a healthier corporate culture. It is a way to put your whole company in touch with each other, which is invaluable.
Second, it will root out consistent problems in your organisation, and every company has them, which will allow you to implement root and branch reform that will make a major difference to your company going forward. If your employees consistently highlight the same problems then you know, for sure, it’s a priority issue that you must address.
As well as a confidential, internal service, you can connect your collaboration software with an external website to allow your customers or even the public to offer their opinions and help you shape the future of your company.
Find out how the public sees you and how your message is getting across, and also ask for the public’s involvement.
User engagement is a key factor in improving relations with customers and boosting profits, so by taking your new-found commitment to communication within your company into the outside world, you can find yourself engaged with the public and looking for new methods to take your company forward.
An example: Unilever
Unilever recently opened the floor to the public and sought innovative ideas for its sustainability and environmental programmes.
It wanted to find people it could do business with, people with ideas to reinvent laundry and create new methods of washing that would help prioritise water conservation and limit the damage we all do to the environment during our weekly washing.
Social media was seen as the way to open a dialogue with the public and it has been a success; but Facebook, Twitter and more have become engulfed in white noise and while closed groups have been effective on an intra-company basis, they are still blunt tools that do not compare to collaborative software when it comes to proper and direct communication.
The company behind Unilever’s high-tech suggestion box suggests that this form of crowd-sourcing ideas has helped its clients raise more than $1 billion in revenue.
It’s a figure that is hard to ignore and for any large corporation, this method of communication might prove an invaluable addition.
“We anticipate linking up with people who are budding entrepreneurs who have an idea, but who haven’t much taken it beyond that,” Karen Hamilton, global vice president for sustainability at Unilever, said when the site debuted. “We might also connect with startups that might have a full-fledged solution. We believe in the power of the crowd.”
Crowdsourcing is nothing new but providing a constant point of communication with potential partners, your own staff, and the public will have a positive impact on your business.
Linking them all together and providing points of discussion that don’t simply fall through cracks and get forgotten is a job for collaborative software, as ideas can be raised, discussed with the relevant management and even the employees who will be charged with implementing them, and prioritised in a systematic manner.
So, the corporate suggestion box is back, it’s much sleeker than before, and it has real potential. It’s time to get one of your own.