Council Services / Community

Glenorchy City Council - Innovation and Employee Contribution Scheme

It is often said that ‘staff are the greatest asset any organisation has’.  To provide services Tasmanian communities rely on - like roads, sport fields, recycling, or managing development - councils employ staff with a great range of skills and qualifications.  There are over 100 different trade, technical, professional, administrative and management job roles in the Local Government sector. 

Council staff have a great deal of knowledge about their area of operations including the day to day issues which affect them and ideas on how to improve things in a bigger picture sense.  However, harnessing innovation within a government employment setting is not easy. 

Government organisations are generally risk adverse, constrained financially/politically, and staff resources are usually completely occupied fulfilling their normal duties.  In this context, championing change from within, particularly from the bottom up, can present too many barriers for employees. 

Using a variety of clever techniques, Glenorchy City Council are encouraging a culture of innovation in the workplace.  

In April this year, Glenorchy reinvigorated its ‘Innovation and Employee Contribution Scheme’.  While many organisations may have a ‘suggestion box’ style arrangement to gather ideas from staff, Glenorchy’s innovation scheme goes further in a number of ways.

First, Glenorchy embedded their Scheme into their Enterprise Agreement.  An Enterprise Agreement determines the terms and conditions of employment, and at Glenorchy, this makes participation in innovation ‘part of the job’.  

When staff come up with an innovative idea, it is common that an organisation would recognise that extra effort with some kind words or perhaps a small voucher.  But at Glenorchy if staff come up with an idea that meets the criteria - then staff can be rewarded financially. 

Criteria include that the innovation must be implemented, and that the idea makes a measurable improvement to the delivery of Council’s services to the community.

Glenorchy City Council Commissioner Sue Smith said the Scheme was aimed at both enhancing services for ratepayers - and rewarding innovative ideas from employees to achieve that aim.  Commissioner Smith explained -

“Employees can be nominated for a special payment if they have made an outstanding contribution in a number of areas.  For example, suggesting an idea or innovation that leads to a measurable increase in productivity.  

Similarly, making an outstanding contribution to promoting or improving teamwork, or an outstanding contribution in general, that is above and beyond expectations will also qualify.”

Employees can nominate colleagues or team members and nominations are assessed on:

  • originality of idea
  • impact and benefit to Council and community
  • practicality of implementation

To make clear what the criteria are, an ‘Innovation and Employee Contribution Guide’ has been developed and is available on the Council’s intranet website for all staff.  The Guide clearly describes the criteria for assessment, how to nominate someone, and what qualifies for a payment. 

 BCBC Innovationa and Employee Scheme
Pictured from left to right: Matt Hamilton and David Hunt receiving certificates from Seva Iskandarli, as well as
Matthew Browning and Lee Evans.

The Innovation and Employee Contribution Scheme was launched in April, and to date, four Council staff members have been recognised.  Matthew Browning and Lee Evans were recognised for making improvements to the safety induction program for council staff using cars, heavy vehicles, mobile equipment and fixed plant at work.  Matt Hamilton and David Hunt were commended for their contribution to Glenorchy’s Employee Benefit Scheme,  The Employee Benefit Scheme enables staff to donate personal leave to colleagues experiencing hardship.  The benefit scheme has also been embedded in the Council’s Enterprise Agreement.  

Glenorchy City Council’s Innovation and Employee Contribution Scheme is itself innovative.  The Scheme enables a government employer, against clear criteria, to encourage, assess, thank and even financially reward staff to develop practical innovative ideas.