Overview – Suggestion boxes
Suggestion boxes are a means of soliciting ideas, comments, and recommendations from employees. They work on the premise that valuable input can come from anywhere. The traditional form of suggestion boxes comprises a physical receptacle with an opening through which employees can insert slips of paper or card with their input. A virtual suggestion box can be an effective tactic for tapping into employee suggestions and ideas quickly.
By giving employees a voice, and leaders a powerful listening device, suggestion boxes are a valuable communication tactic that is often overlooked. They are also valuable in workplaces where there is apprehension about speaking up. Suggestion boxes can afford anonymity, which may yield more frank and open feedback than face-to-face tactics such as focus groups.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Tapping into employees’ ideas and suggestions.
✓ Seeking employees’ recommendations on organisational priorities as they see them.
✓ Saving money through employees’ identification of wasted resources or inefficient processes.
✓ Demonstrating the value ascribed by leaders to the ‘voice’ of employees.
Things to consider:
⇒ Determine the purpose for which suggestion boxes will be used and the means by which employees’ suggestions will be canvassed, e.g. physical box or the intranet.
⇒ Establish the process for managing a suggestion box scheme, including promotion, retrieval of information, and selection and implementation of noteworthy ideas. Assign responsibilities as required.
⇒ Record received suggestions in a database to track trends, ideas implemented and issues resolved.
⇒ Build confidence in the value of suggestion boxes by acknowledging the actions taken in response to employees’ suggestions in newsletters, on notice boards or via the intranet.
⇒ Articulate when initiatives are being implemented as a result of employee suggestions so they can see the consequences of their input. For example: ‘We are implementing XYZ in response to the ideas we received from your suggestion box’. This reinforces the value the organisation places on employees’ suggestions.
Publicize implementation of employees’ ideas or resolution of their identified issues in various communication tactics. This validates worthiness of the suggestion box initiative in employees’ eyes because they can see something is being done with their input. This encourages their continuing involvement and participation.