Winnebago Industries Inc. has paid out over $1 million in awards to employees since the company created a product and process improvement suggestion program. As a result of implementing these employee-generated ideas, Winnebago has continually improved internal processes and realized ongoing savings of over $10 million, the company reported in a press release.
The program pays employees 10% of the first year’s savings realized from implementation of the ideas. Ideas range from utilizing materials more efficiently, to developing processes that save time and energy and most importantly, maintain or improve product quality. Approximately 95% of the awards are material related, while 5% are from process suggestions.
“Our employees have a wealth of great ideas,” said Charles Tweeten, suggestion process administrator. “We learned long ago that the people who work most closely with the manufacture of our products have a unique opportunity to see where improvements can be made that benefit the company in the manufacturing process.”
Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts, noted, “We welcome our employees’ great ideas. Rewarding our employees for thinking outside of the box is one of the most fun parts of my job. I want to make sure every employee knows the great contribution they are making by suggesting ideas, both great and small. Every single one of them has a significant impact on Winnebago.”
In total, Winnebago has reviewed over 20,000 suggestions since the program’s inception. The recipients’ awards vary greatly in size from $5 to as much as $10,000 for any single suggestion. One of the largest awards to an employee was $9,390.25 for an idea that suggested utilizing drop off material from a previous cutting process to manufacture a sidewall section below an entry door frame. This suggestion not only reduced the amount of new material needed, it also reduced scrap.