Employees are the most valuable assets of an organization. Government entities rely on them to deliver services to the community and often times they go above and beyond what is within their job description when resources are tight. Yet when looking for areas of efficiency and ways to save money, they aren’t always the first to be asked.

Historically, employees on the front lines have been overlooked as idea generators. In 1911, Frederick Taylor published “The Principles of Scientific Management” to address the relationship between managers and those employees who are on the front lines. His theory that managers were the planners and the employees were there to perform the tasks was well received during his time. But over time, employers have evolved to recognize someone performing “tasks” may have more insight on how to create efficiency or come up with a new process than someone who sits at a distance.

Many states are looking within for innovative ways to improve services and save money. Pennsylvania, launched a website so employees can submit cost saving ideas to help balance the budget.  California has something similar called the Employee Suggestion Program. In a 2014 interview with Kari Ehrman, Merit Award Program Manager, she was asked what makes this program so successful; she responded, “The main reason was because it received top management support”.

Programs like this help drive employee engagement. Many take pride in what they do. If they find a way to make something more efficient, cost effective, or safer, their ideas should be heard. More collaboration between employees and leaders can result in a more productive workforce.

Jennifer Dowd is a Sr. Manager, Industry Marketing – Public Sector at Kronos.