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Speak up! It could mean big rewards

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in Admins,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management

Admins sometimes say they feel they don’t have a voice. It could be that they’re gun shy about speaking up. Or they don’t know the right words to use. Or they actually fear repercussions.

Admins aren’t alone: One study by a Cornell University professor found that only 51% of employees in a Fortune 100 multinational company said they felt safe speaking up most of the time.

Studies show that workers who get past the discomfort of speaking up, or who find the words to do so, will feel more engaged with work—and have higher productivity, as a result—while the nonspeakers tend to withdraw.

So it’s in everyone’s best interest for workers to feel comfortable speaking up.

Would your company’s leaders benefit from hearing more feedback and ideas from employees? If the answer is yes, here’s a strategy to suggest to them: a rewards program that doles out prizes for the best ideas offered by employees.

For example:

A+ Federal Credit Union has a “Speak Up” program, created by employees, to solicit ideas from staff on how to improve the company. In its first month, the program elicited 11 suggestions for improving the credit union.

According to McCombs School of Business Magazine, a committee of midlevel managers analyzes the feasibility of each proposal, and employees earn extra money for any idea that gets implemented. A company intranet and blogging tool allow staff to share ideas.

At a North Carolina-based public utilities company, employees get a “Green Award”—a certificate, a prize basket and cash—for submitting to the company’s intranet the best environmentally friendly idea.

Admins at the company recently had the idea to replace the kitchen’s plastic foam cups with washable mugs. Once the idea was chosen as the winner, admins took ownership of the project by setting up the mug system themselves.

As one company manager put it, “Our admins were the ones who knew best how to implement it, and it was clear they felt proud; they all posted their award certificates at their desks.”

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