From Collector: Bright Ideas
11/7/2017 11:00 AM
How to gather and implement employee process improvement suggestions.
Is your employee suggestion box gathering dust? As collection agency owners continue to look for new ways to streamline services and boost revenue, they often overlook a goldmine of bright ideas at their fingertips: their workforce, Collector magazine editor Anne Rosso May reports in the November issue.
A recent O.C. Tanner survey found that while nine out of 10 employees in non-management positions believe they should innovate, only six out of 10 actually do so due to lack of encouragement from company leaders, Rosso May reports.
How can you show employees that you value their thoughts on how to make your company better?
One ACA International member company has found success through a special committee focused on innovation.
Professional Account Services Inc. launched its Employee Process Improvement Committee, EPIC for short, in 2008 after some internal surveys revealed employees felt they didn’t have a voice in the way they worked accounts.
“We soon realized that collectors are the ones driving our systems and the ones we should depend on to let us know when something is broken or needs to be tweaked,” said Faye Tucker, director of self-pay. “We really believe that one of the key factors in building a successful company is allowing everyone to have a voice and work as a team.”
Tucker spoke with Collector magazine about how the company’s process improvement committee works, and gave tips to solicit and take action on employee feedback.
For example, it’s important to get everyone involved in the process.
To make sure everyone on the collection floor gets an opportunity to share their thoughts, management invites representatives from each team to gather ideas from their group and attend the quarterly EPIC meetings.
Tucker said she tries to keep the EPIC agenda focused on process improvements that affect employees’ daily routines, though occasionally staff members will bring up a complaint or maintenance request they’d like to discuss in the meeting.
In those instances, Tucker tells the employee that while the issue isn’t quite appropriate for the EPIC agenda, she’ll route the request to the appropriate party—and then she circles back with the employee when the problem has been addressed.
After each meeting, the next steps for Tucker and her self-pay support staff members include reviewing each item that was voted to be implemented and deciding what needs to be done to make it happen.
Recognition is also a key part of Professional Account Services’ approach to process improvement, Rosso May reports.
“As we roll changes out, I’ll send emails to the staff letting them know what we’re doing,” Tucker said. “I’ll say: This was an idea from EPIC and this is the change we’re making as a result. And I always give kudos to whoever brought it up.”
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