For construction firms and building product manufacturers margin integrity continues to be one of the hot topics. From large, multinational corporates to smaller privately owned company, businesses strain for those all too often elusive marginal gains.

The below article from last month’s Construction Enquirer will undoubtedly provide a wake up call to some business leaders and senior HR staff. To summarise, Balfour Beatty have driven an employee suggestion scheme (“My Contribution”) that throughout this year alone has saved the business £4m through labour hours cut. OK, I appreciate someone within HR will have to implement such a scheme; ensure the process is policed, with everyone having a voice and suggestions fairly dealt with (Balfour have had over 2,600 suggestions).

58 of these 2,600 were implemented, leading to this quite staggering figure. I can think of two sizeable clients I have worked with that have done similar schemes. Both MD’s have told me what a great success they’ve been. Plus, there is the added bonus of strengthening inclusion among your workforce. One of these clients has gone as far as offering an end of fiscal year award for the best suggestion implemented, with a trophy and financial reward.

I saw a graphic doing the rounds on LinkedIn the other day with a picture of an iceberg. The part not amerced in water contributed to only c.20% of the total mass and illustrated how many problems senior management are aware of. The old adage, all too often ignored, of those "on the ground" having first-hand exposure to the niggling issues, process problems, manufacturing bottlenecks, rings true.

The question is, has your business implemented a scheme as simple and cheap to roll out and, if you have, has it been given the limelight and attention it deserves?