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ITD offers incentive for employees to make suggestions that produce greater efficiency

When Ford Motor Company went to the drawing board to design a new minivan, it was armed with input from a cadre of very important users – mothers. How better to determine the shape of a new vehicle than to involve those who use it most?

The state of Idaho took a similar approach when it decided to ask employees in the trenches for input about making state government – programs and processes – more efficient, and ultimately save both financial and human resources. Legislators last year created an incentive program that will reward employees for innovative ways of achieving those efficiencies.

The Employee Suggestion Program (ESP) officially began July 1, 2003. Transportation department employees are invited to participate by identifying ways their efforts can be accomplished more efficiently. Just as important, they can look at other areas of state government and apply the same test.

According to ITD policy, the program objective is to “recognize and encourage employees to exercise initiative and to develop suggestions that identify specific problems and propose valid solutions which will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the department through increased productivity, reduced costs, safer working conditions, or expedited public service.”

Suggestions can result in a one-time savings or permanent, on-going savings, explained Mary Harker, ITD Human Resource manager. Her office will administer the program for ITD employees.

Not only will employee suggestions improve operating efficiency or generate budget savings, it also can be financially rewarding for individuals who conceive the idea. Proven successes can earn a permanent employee a bonus of up to $1,000, Harker says.

To offer a cost savings/efficiency suggestion, employees need to complete form ITD-0061, which is available in the department’s Human Resource Manual. Look under Administrative Services on the Intranet, then follow the links to Human Resource Services, HRS manual, chapter 22.

Completed forms should be submitted to the employee’s supervisor for review and comment. Deserving submissions then are forwarded to Human Resource Services and on to a formal panel review.

“The panel will work closely with the appropriate supervisor or manager…” according to ITD’s ESP policy. “A subject matter expert will be consulted if necessary, in an attempt to ensure that the suggestion is original, to verify the magnitude of the impact and to determine whether the idea is within scope or is an expectation of an employee’s job.” The ESP review panel will meet on a regular basis and assume the following duties:

– Review suggestions prior to meeting to evaluate the merits of the suggestion.

– Request additional information from coordinator (HR manager) or subject matter experts within five days of meeting date.

– Evaluate suggestions and determine implementation and level of award. The evaluation process shall include consideration of the following: Originality, value, feasibility, extent, estimated costs, and savings.

Examples of such cost savings or efficiencies might include the following:

  • Eliminate operations, duplications, or safety hazards;
  • Improve methods, procedures, product quality, service, working conditions, tools/equipment, material handling, security, safety, departmental layouts, or work flow;
  • Increase productivity, employee motivation, or life of tools/equipment;
  • Propose new services or new methods;
  • Reclaim defective materials or scrap;
  • Eliminate unnecessary procedures, records, or forms;
  • Reduce equipment, errors, working space, steps, or waste; or,
  • Save time, materials, supplies, labor, energy, or money.

For information about the program contact Human Resource Services or review Chapter 22 of the Human Resource manual (see link above).

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