What Happened to the Suggestion Box?

What Happened to the Suggestion Box?

Once upon a time nearly every company had a “suggestion box,” an unassuming container, located in public office space and usually locked, into which employees could slip handwritten notes to Management. While I remember seeing them often in the past, I am hard pressed to remember where and when I last saw one.

The suggestion box was a means for Company Managers and Executives to receive input from their staff, and it provided employees with a physical place to bring their suggestions forward with hopes that their idea would be approved and put to practice.

Perhaps a distant reminder of the analog age, the suggestion box certainly has its benefits:

Increase Employee Morale

Employees yearn to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work. They also want to believe their contributions are integral to the Company’s success. Inclusion and impact are critical to the morale of your employee base. As these sentiments grow, so too does employee retention, loyalty, and teamwork. The “suggestion box” not only provides employees with a form for communicating ideas and suggestions, it encourages creative and independent thinking.

Potential for Increased Revenue

Client-facing employees typically have their fingers on the pulse of what the Customer wants. They understand the product or service your Company provides and may have reasonable ways to improve upon them. Providing employees with a forum to express their ideas can result in a win-win-win situation. The Company will benefit by fostering a creative workplace for the employees to contribute meaningful new ideas. (Let’s not forget that it was an employee at 3M that came up with the Post-it Note!)

Potential for Decreased Expenses

Employees can also be quite innovative when it comes to saving money. Their suggestions may help to cut expenses without the diminished morale or reduced productivity and Customer satisfaction that may come with a Company’s cost-cutting measures.

The success of a suggestion box in your office depends upon a few practical considerations:

  • Establish a detailed policy so that the suggestion process is well known. Explain the parameters to avoid confusion and potential dissatisfaction with the process.
  • Review the contents of the suggestion box on a weekly basis. If employees have made an effort to leave suggestions, they deserve to be read. Allowing suggestions to accumulate for weeks or months at a time means that the employees don’t receive feedback within a reasonable amount of time. Employees should expect to find out if Management has approved their suggestion within 30 days.
  • Respond to everyone who has placed a suggestion or idea into the box. No staff is too junior or unimportant. While you don’t have to “accept” every suggestion, you should acknowledge their contribution and offer comments on their submission. Your timely feedback can serve to improve the quality and feasibility of future suggestions.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm and interest so that the employees see the “suggestion box” in a positive light. Remember that you stand the chance of receiving a terrific suggestion never offered before and one that might change the profitability of the Company.

Last but not least, someone must be assigned responsibility to oversee the suggestion box.

(And of course, since we now live in the digital age, there is also an online solution that you might wish to consider. Check out IdeaGlow (http://web.ideaglow.com/idea-management-software/) and see if it is the right answer for your needs.


For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, gail@ubsassociates.com or call (516) 935-5641.

By admin September 19, 2017