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Be a Bottom-Line Contributor by Saving Your Company Money

Be a Bottom-Line Contributor by Saving Your Company Money

When analyzing what it cost her company to appear at the industry's leading trade show the previous year, a marketing professional turned up a variety of costs -- like exorbitant furniture rentals from the convention producer -- that were ripe for reduction. Her solutions -- including buying furniture from stylish discount chains for much less than the rental rates -- saved her company tens of thousands of dollars. For her extraordinary efforts to save money, her employer rewarded her with $1,000.     

Fantasy? No, it’s a true story, and one that can be replicated across all industries. Any worker can take the initiative to come up with money-saving strategies and persuade his employer to reward him for it with a lump sum, a leg up on a merit raise or a boost to his professional reputation. Here’s how employees who may not be in a position to boost their company’s top line are still making a difference on the bottom line by offering tips for saving money.

For Companies with Reward Systems, Savings Everywhere

Some companies have invested in the potential of employees to contribute cost-savings ideas by deploying formal reward systems for penny pinchers.

“Every single time you save our company money -- say by staying at a cheaper hotel or using a coupon -- you get 10 percent of the savings back as rewards points,” says Zakir Hemraj, sales engineer at I Love Rewards, which both markets a Web-based rewards system and uses the system to recognize its own employees’ money savings. Within the company, workers who document their cost cutting can earn and redeem points for sports tickets and products from Apple, Coach, Expedia and Nike. The points can even be used to make charitable donations, with an instant receipt to document the tax deduction.

“On a business trip to Chicago I stayed at a friend’s place rather than at a hotel,” Hemraj says. “Getting 10 percent of that room rate back instantly motivated me to save the money for the company.” Hemraj and colleagues got an even larger award when they volunteered to work on the company’s servers on a Saturday -- work for which a consultant would have charged thousands.

How can you convince your employer to invest in a rewards program? Start by showing the return on investment that competitors have achieved with such an initiative; ask a rewards-program provider for data.

Mailroom Idea Is Worth a Million a Year

At Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, cost savings came in the form of a modest capital investment in a bulk-mail machine. But reaping the machine’s full potential required a little promotion first. “Our managers gave us the blessing to go out to departments and tell them how we could save money for their departments with bulk mailings,” says Juan Donato, an associate in the mailroom at the 867-bed nonprofit hospital.

Just how much did the hospital save with bulk mailings? Over a year, postage reductions reached an impressive $1 million.

Process Improvements Yield Savings, Kudos

Employee-generated cost reductions don’t stop in the mailroom at Hartford Hospital. A recent initiative aimed to save the hospital and patients time and money as the radiation therapy department ramped up a new, accelerated breast-cancer treatment regimen. The regimen is so popular that it increased pressure on hospital workers to move patients through quicker.

“I led a process-mapping exercise to lay out on the board all that we were doing and what we could improve, with initial state and ideal states,” says Ted Steger, a hospital medical physicist.

A committee of therapists, nurses, secretaries and doctors formed to discuss how the process could be more efficient, says radiation therapist Allison Conners. For example, instead of waiting for a nurse to do the dressing, “we decided the therapists would do the dressing themselves,” she says.

Much of the savings came in the form of reduced overtime, a welcome change for overworked staff members and a significant labor savings for the hospital.

How have the hospital’s workers been rewarded for their tips to save money? With a department luncheon and by being featured in a video promoting the hospital’s grassroots change process. They also received a hospital award and presented their findings to hospital VPs, Conners says.

Can employees command a more substantial cut of their cost-cutting successes? You won’t know unless you ask.

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