Larissa Gilke

Klasmann-Deilmann promotes idea-generating potential of employees

From promoting employee health and helping the environment to optimising practice by saving on materials and time: for 15 years now, Klasmann-Deilmann has considered ideas under a suggestion scheme that gives workers an active role in discovering potential for improvement within the company. It has now been updated to give personnel more ways to submit their proposals. And, to promote the sharing of ideas, the new procedure is to be extended to our foreign locations.

Did you know that company suggestion schemes have existed in Germany – at least in embryo – since 1872? Giving employees the opportunity to provide input in this way has multiple benefits. As well as leading to a range of improvements, many of which reduce a company’s costs, it is extremely motivating for staff: their ideas are recognised, valued and (in some cases) financially rewarded. This strengthens loyalty to the company and, where recommendations are worked on jointly, enhances team spirit.

Over the past 15 years, a whole series of improvements – from among 1,420 ideas submitted by 340 employees (as at April 2016) – have already paid dividends. At the initiative of an in-house project aimed at younger workers, the suggestion scheme has now been modernised by the works council, the Personnel Director and the officer in charge of the scheme.

At the heart of this enhancement is the introduction of new ways in which suggestions can be made. So far, submissions have been anonymous. Now, however, staff can also contact their line managers directly with their ideas, enabling supervisors to find out more about their potential and nurture them in a targeted manner. If the manager rejects the suggestion, they still forward it to the evaluation committee to review the decision. Alternatively, the employee can submit his or her recommendation for improvement directly to the committee or, as before, make his or her contribution anonymously.

Every suggestion adopted is implemented and rewarded in the form of a bonus payment linked to the cost saving expected or to a points system. And contributors don’t need to re-invent the wheel to have a prospect of success: the crucial factor is whether the current situation is improved. Klasmann-Deilmann also wishes to put the new system in place at its sites outside Germany, not only to create additional ways of submitting ideas but to promote dialogue about innovation in general.