Cashing in on good ideas

"MY neighbours thought that I had won the lottery," says Angela Green of the gleaming Jaguar standing outside her house. But the shop- floor assistant hadn't selected six winning numbers. She had come up with a money-making scheme for her employer, Asda.

Ms Green is the latest recipient of Asda's company Jaguar. This is awarded for a month to the member of staff with the best idea for increasing sales of a particular product under its "VPI - volume-producing items" - scheme. She says: "I selected a flavoured milkshake as my project and then set about giving in-store demonstrations and developing recipe ideas. I also displayed the product in a more interesting way, and sales in our Rhyl store increased."

Asda has introduced prizes for innovative employee suggestions. A spokeswoman says: "Anyone from a shelf-stacker to a store manager can write or call chief executive Archie Norman with their ideas. They can win anything from a 'Tell Archie' pen to a weekend in Paris, depending on how good the idea is."

She adds that some of the simplest ideas are the most effective. "In our petrol booths we used to hand customers a clipboard and pen to sign cheques, but the pens kept getting lost, so they are now attached with Velcro. It may not sound much, but multiply the cost of pens across 200 stores and it soon adds up."

In using employee suggestion schemes and motivating staff by giving them the chance to win prizes, Asda is acting on the advice of Julian Richer, the owner of the hi-fi retail chain Richer Sounds. Mr Richer and his unusual management style are much-sought-after by other retailers keen to put his ideas into practice.

He offers staff who come up with the best ideas a day at Brands Hatch, a trip on the Orient Express, or a day at a health farm. Staff are sometimes given a fiver to go down to the pub and think about ways to improve Richer Sounds stores over a quiet drink.

Other companies have begun to think about how they can get the most out of people who know the business best - the staff on the shop floor or in the factory. Georgina Tate of the Industrial Society says: "British companies could save millions of pounds annually by tapping employee ideas better. Dusty boxes on factory walls have been replaced by computerised schemes offering holidays, cars or cash prizes to eager employees."

Ian Strachan, corporate communications director for Land Rover, says: "We have come a long way since the old suggestion box, which only ever had two suggestions in it, one of which was unprintable. We are now doing it in a much more professional way." Land Rover estimates that employee suggestions have saved the company pounds 3.5m in the past three years. It has a high contribution rate and has received 13,000 suggestions to date, although Mr Strachan admits that is because the rewards are high. The best idea under the "Bright Is" scheme can win pounds 5,000 plus a car.

Many of the ideas it receives are of a technical nature, but Mr Strachan says some are simpler, such as one devised by a team which fits seats. The members suggested the leather used for interior trimmings be cut differently, resulting in savings of pounds 500,000 a year.

Midland Bank also offers prizes of up to pounds 5,000 a year for good ideas. Last year it received 2,800 suggestions, and Andy Radcliff, manager of service quality, estimates that slightly under half are implemented.

Apart from the savings to be made, all agree that company suggestions schemes have another benefit - they motivate staff and make them feel like a valuable asset. Mr Strachan says: "Apart from getting access to ideas, it makes staff think about the work they are doing and it gets them involved. It makes them feel like a more important part of the company."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manchester, £18k

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HRO - £70k+ ote

£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...

Citifocus Ltd: Newly Qualified Accountants - Risk Mgmt

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...

Citifocus Ltd: Operational Risk Analyst

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?