(2 of 2)
U.S. business has also cured itself of the "ten-dollaritis" that killed many early programs. Workers are getting paid much better today. Most firms now give 10% to 20% of the first year's savings on a new idea. For example, Cleveland's Clevite Corp. gave an employee $28,006 in 1948 for improving one step in the bronze-casting process. Los Angeles' AiResearch Co. this year shelled out $4,500 to a woman for suggesting that two hard-to-handle steel turbine parts be combined in a single, simple aluminum casting. Saving: $15,630 the first six months.
To make a suggestion program work, executives must be ready to welcome any and all suggestions, no matter how zany. "If a man takes the trouble to write it down," says one executive, "it isn't trivial to him." An ex-G.I. who became an Army civilian employee noticed that barracks brooms were rarely hung by the special hole drilled in their handles for that purpose, told the Army to stop wasting its money on drilling. His prize: $275 for saving U.S. taxpayers $15,233 a year.
Just as valuable are the results that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. United Airlines, which gets 13,000 suggestions a year, painted the tops of its airliners a sun-reflecting white because a mechanic's wife got sick sweating out a delayed take-off in a broiling hot plane. The idea lowered temperatures inside the fuselage by 8°. Pyrex glass was the result of a Corning Glass worker's happy thought: he suggested that the heat-resistant glass used on kerosene railway-signal lamps be improved and turned into a new line of household products.
In 1954's buyers' market, U.S. industry needs an ever greater flow of new and better products and a strong team of happy, alert workers to turn them out efficiently. Employee suggestions provide both a barometer of morale and a source of ideas that few companies can afford to ignore.