SPECIAL PRESENTATION: What Makes A Successful Employee Suggestion Program
This meeting began with a special presentation by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on its internal suggestion program (STAR) which is successfully linked to the state-level program administered by the State Employee Suggestion Board. Blinda Beason (DOT/State Patrol) and Marjorie McCormick (DOT/Motor Vehicles) spoke on the topic of "What Makes A Successful Employee Suggestion Program."
The DOT agency-level employee suggestion program is called STAR, for Successful Thoughts Are Rewarding. STAR was begun in September 1997. Prior to that, each DOT division had its own program. The STAR program is based on quality leadership, and its objective is to encourage, support, and implement ideas in the spirit of continuous improvement. DOT measures how it does business, and also wants to increase employee satisfaction in his or her job. Elements of the success of the STAR program include:
Employee Involvement and Excitement
Senior Management Support
Employees look for support from above
Employees know that DOT will listen
The program is supported, and sponsored, by Division Administrators and Office Directors
Any and all ideas are welcome
The Department has a STAR committee with 7 members representing each division, plus the executive (Secretary's) office. Membership is staggered in two-year increments. Budget review is provided by the appropriate division. The Secretary's Office supports the program wholeheartedly. DOT advertises the STAR program in many ways:
intranet (DOTNET) web page
suggestion form is on-line
form is included within the paper brochure
"Lobby Day" at Hill Farms State Office Building -- photos of suggesters; video on loop; samples/trinkets; "fishbowl" for business cards; gifts
Articles in DOT newsletter
Annual STAR award ceremony at DOT -- photos, visibility
DOT gives non-cash awards including a choice of items with the STAR logo -- sweatshirts, coffee mugs, portfolios, and umbrellas. Their goal is to add one gift item a year. Other token gifts include flashlights, markers, tape measures, notepads, and pens. Award-winners at the annual DOT ceremony also receive a STAR plaque signed by the Department Secretary.
DOT is also developing an on-line system in which awards may be submitted either by Inter-D mail or to an electronic In-Box. Suggestions received are routed to an Evaluation Committee which reviews suggestions in terms of feasibility and savings (money/time) and rejects or accepts them. Employees whose suggestions are rejected receive a letter with a blank suggestion form to encourage them to submit suggestions in the future. Employees whose suggestions are accepted receive a congratulatory letter and a gift. Accepted suggestions are also forwarded to the State Board with an agency recommendation for a certificate and, when appropriate, a cash award.
Budget for the DOT suggestion program (STAR) is funded by the DOT Secretary's Office. Staff Time devoted to the STAR program by Division coordinators is up to 10-20 percent of the employee's job. The STAR Department-level coordinator gives about 25% of her time to the program. DOT takes a team approach to its STAR program, with each division having a backup program coordinator.
The STAR program is also enhanced by printed materials including a poster, brochure, forms, letterhead; a video produced by DOT; a digital camera for award ceremonies; and food (treats) during special occasions.
DOT has successfully linked the STAR program with the state-level Suggestion Program. Since 1997, when the DOT agency-level STAR program began, the department has received 240 employee suggestions. Of those, 70 have been accepted and forwarded to the State Employee Suggestion Board for review, certificates, and possible cash awards by the state Board.
While DOT is one of the largest state agencies, some of the same concepts used in the STAR program could still apply to the development of a successful internal agency-level employee suggestion program in medium and small agencies.
The board reviewed and decided on the following employee suggestions.