Suggestion Boxes

About JIM COLLISON

Suggestion Box

Suggestion Boxes

Answers to your employee suggestion box questions...

The pros and cons of a Suggestion Box

If all you do is put up a few suggestion boxes, you don’t have a suggestion program. You have a garbage collection system.

First, though, the “pros” of using traditional suggestion boxes:

  • The traditional suggestion box can make sense when it’s incorporated into a modern employee suggestion program as one of several ways to collect ideas. For a successful suggestion program you’ll also give employees opportunities to submit suggestions electronically, on paper forms submitted directly to managers and supervisors, and in conversations directly with managers and supervisors. Suggestion boxes put up in every department and break room can give your employee suggestion program a public presence throughout your workplace. Their presence can keep inviting employees to come up with and submit their suggestions.

  • Suggestion boxes make it easy for employees to submit ideas. This is especially true if some employees are not able to submit ideas electronically.

The Great Idea TeleClinic makes it easy for you to get ideas from employees.
Get Great Idea TeleClinic details, click here.

Now the “cons” of traditional suggestion boxes:

  • Suggestion boxes invite employees to submit garbage (think banana peels) and anonymous criticisms, complaints, and attacks on individual co-workers and managers. Result? Headaches for managers and supervisors.

  • Suggestion boxes become complaint boxes in the minds of employees.

  • In time, suggestion boxes are ignored by management and contents are not emptied for weeks, even months.

  • So suggestion boxes make it easy for managers and supervisors to ignore ideas and suggestions employees put into them.

  • Putting up a suggestion box or two is the lazy way to solicit employees’ ideas, giving little incentive to employees to share their great ideas.

The Great Idea TeleClinic makes it easy for you to get ideas from employees.
Get Great Idea TeleClinic details, click here.

What’s better than just a Suggestion Box?

Putting up a suggestion box or setting out suggestion boxes is a feeble step, at best, for an employee suggestion program.

You have to do more than traditional suggestion boxes if you want today’s employees to willingly share their best ideas for cutting costs, saving money, boosting profits, and growing your business or organization.

Better than depending on suggestion boxes is launching a well-thought-out and continuously managed employee suggestion program. Call it whatever you want, but have a management-led, ongoing, organized system that involves and empowers every employee to come up with and share their ideas as one of their important job responsibilities.

For more than a suggestion box, consider these important suggestion
program features:

  • Several times a year get employees to develop and share suggestions on a specific purpose. It could be cost-cutting ideas. Or quality-improvement ideas. Or safety improvement ideas.

  • Make it a job responsibility for managers and supervisors to regularly ask employees for their suggestions.

  • Sure, put out a suggestion box if you insist on it. But also encourage employees to share their suggestions directly with their supervisor or manager. In addition to verbally sharing their ideas, let them share their ideas directly and personally to their supervisor or manager in writing on paper or electronically.

  • Have monthly meetings of small groups, or in departments, with the manager or supervisor inviting employees to brainstorm ideas and suggestions.

The Great Idea TeleClinic makes it easy for you to get ideas from employees.
Get Great Idea TeleClinic details, click here.

The easiest, best Suggestion Box you can have

Let’s say you and your associates are wed to a suggestion box type employee suggestion program.

If that’s the case, then go with the simplest suggestion box of all.

Go with a plain, ordinary, open box (about the size of an empty envelope box) set
at the corner of each manager’s and supervisor’s work station?

Then the managers and supervisors tell the employees something like this: “We
need your good ideas for (the specific goal or purpose this month or quarter, such
as cutting costs). Write down your ideas on the idea forms you can pick up in the
break room. Then put the forms in the open box on my desk. I promise to look at each idea submitted within two workdays and get back to you within three workdays.”

The Great Idea TeleClinic makes it easy for you to get ideas from employees.
Get Great Idea TeleClinic details, click here.

By Jim Collison
President, Employers of America, Inc.