In an effort to better understand employee innovation, I developed an employee survey to answer the question: “How can we increase the number and quality of ideas suggested by employees?”
The survey was developed based on a model for increasing employee involvement*, which includes four elements:
- Power: For employees to become involved, they need to have the power to do so. In the case of submitting ideas, employees need to feel that their ideas will be considered, will be valued, and will be implemented.
- Information: Employees need timely access to relevant information in order to know best how to focus their creative efforts.
- Knowledge/Skills: Employees can only contribute to the level of their knowledge and skills.
- Rewards: In order to be motivated to contribute, employees need incentives, either internal or external.
The results of the survey helped design an improved suggestion box program, which increased the number of ideas suggested by a factor of nine. See the post “Case Study: A Roundabout Path to Increasing Employee Suggestions.”
Given the chance to redesign the survey, I would have mixed up the categories more so they would not be grouped together. Also, it would have been a good practice to make more questions inverted, to reduce bias in the questionnaire. Overall, the survey provided us with good information from which we were able to take action and make a measurable improvement.
* Source: Cummings and Worley, Essentials of Organization Development and Change, South-Western College Publishing, 2001, pg 172-173.