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Small Ideas Part 2: The Unsung Hero of Employee Engagement

Every employee, during one time or another, experiences roadblocks that prevent them from completing a task faster or with greater ease, or obstacles that impact their overall working conditions.

Management is often asked to look into small roadblocks like these, but they don’t always get resolved. It’s not because they don’t care or because these issues involve a big time or financial investment. It’s because they get lost in a sea of priorities and other urgent day to day demands.  

SoapBox helps to put a process in place to execute on the small stuff that makes a big impact, and demonstrates to employees that ideas that are validated by the community will get consideration from leadership. Actioning even the smallest of ideas does wonders on employee engagement. In fact, studies show that even the act of providing an update to an idea (even a declined idea) improves employee engagement.

This post is the second of a four-part series focusing on the value of small ideas that make a big impact in the workplace. The first post, the story of our SoapBox Socials, can be found here.

The story of the recycling bins

On January 16, 2015, developer Chris Hayes shared an idea on our SoapBox about the need for recycling bins in our office. We had just moved into a new space, so there was a lot that needed to be done. Recycling bins were on the purchase list, but not made a priority. I sat down with Chris to discuss the story of this idea and the impact it had on his working conditions.

Employee Ideas


Elana: How did you come up with the idea for recycling bins? What was the inspiration?

Chris: The idea came from seeing that a lot of recyclables were being thrown into the trash. I like to think of us as a forward-thinking company, so being sustainable and reducing our trash output would align with our company values. This idea was one of the first that I posted on SoapBox. I felt like it was something small but could make a big impact on how everyone felt.

Elana: What happened when you posted the idea?

Chris: Posting the idea on SoapBox allowed me to see that the view was shared by the majority of the company. I quickly got a bunch of up-votes (25 out of an office of 30!) and positive comments from team members and my manager.

It felt really great to be validated and see that positive response because I was worried that I was the only one who cared about being green. It was a small idea, but it was important to me and aligned with my values, so it felt great to know others cared about it, too.

The community and leadership took the time to vote, comment, and implement the idea very quickly, as if to say “let’s get this done.” After seeing the reaction, it gave me the confidence to post bigger ideas around product development and ways of hitting our business objectives.

Elana: Talk to me about the Official Response you received from the leadership team.

Shortly after posting the idea and seeing that the majority of the community agreed with it, I got an email notification that our office manager responded to my idea. She stated that she would take ownership over purchasing the recycling bins. A few days later, she followed up with the community and notified us that bins have been purchased and distributed around the office and that the idea had been completed. We now have recycling bins at every workstation.

The quick response to my idea made me feel like my feedback mattered, and that I could actually make a difference in the company.

Employee Idea


Elana: What impact do you think your idea has had?

Chris: Ever since we introduced recycling bins in our office, I noticed that a lot less garbage is being produced and our sustainability is increasing. And it’s something I think we all feel really good about.

I know that recycle bins are not a game-changing idea. We were going to get them eventually. But it’s how we got them that made a big impact. As a community, we made change happen today instead of one month from now. I felt validated when I saw the community support my idea and even more so when leadership responded. My small idea was taken seriously. And that made me feel awesome.

Harness the power of employee ideas.