Logistics firm gives $5k for best employee idea

by Miklos Bolza24 Jun 2016
US-based firm, AFN Logistics, has a unique yet lucrative way of inspiring its employees: a $5k payout for the person with the most innovative idea for the company.
Through a virtual suggestion box, individual staff can submit ideas on how to make the workplace better. Other employees can ‘up vote’ ideas and make comments on submitted proposals.
For the past few months, the dashboard has been open with 57 suggestions being submitted so far. These include ideas such as break room improvements and transportation management software.
The employee who submits the best idea will receive $5k and a guarantee it will be implemented.
“We’re in the process of building a fantastic business with an orientation around our people, and an orientation around the fact that I don’t have all the answers,” Ryan Daube, founder and CEO, told Streetwise Media in Chicago.
Since establishing the company 13 years ago, Daube has tried numerous methods of engaging with his staff from traditional suggestion boxes to a committee which could be emailed with feedback. However, it was difficult to build that exchange as the company grew, he said.
“Sometimes when you communicate from a leadership position, I think people tend to – rather than challenge – nod their head and go along with it.”
The virtual suggestion box was a way to raise challenging ideas in a non-threatening way, he said.
For the more technical ideas put forward, AFN also held a Product Day where employees could pitch their ideas to team members and an outside consultant. The initiative was a great way to identify employee skills and potential leadership candidates, said Nick Fryer, director of marketing.
“I’ve seen that empowerment start to happen. There are people who stepped up and taking on tasks that are not in their official roles and responsibilities.”
While the platform will close at the end of June, Daube said they’ll open the platform to take in more ideas sometime in the future. As for whether another $5k prize will be offered, he said he will ask employees what they need to remain creative.
“We have to recognise that our competition is innovating really quickly. And if we want to remain relevant, we have to innovate with them. I’m here to build the best team I possibly can and orient ourselves to win, but I can’t do it by myself... We have to continue to engage [employees] any way we can.”


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