Employee Suggestion ProgramEmployee
Suggestion Program Guide

(How to get started)

Employee Suggestion Programs encourage employees to identify problems in your organization and suggest solutions.

Why not ask for their help, and give rewards for viable suggestions that enhance efficiency, increase productivity, reduce costs, or help create a safer work environment? Try starting an employee suggestion program.

Tips to get your suggestion program started:

There are two basic steps when planning your new Employee Suggestion Program

  1. Define your program details: For your program to be successful, employees need to know the rules, and what's in it for them. A written plan should be prepared, and communicated to everyone, detailing all aspects of your program. The following article is offered to help you get started. (see below)
  2. Define the AWARDS for your program: Generally, there are two types of awards offered in these programs.
    • For suggestions that saves money - give cash awards: but only for suggestions resulting in a financial benefit to the organization. also see: Cash-or-Merchandise?
    • For intangible suggestions - always give merchandise awards: For suggestions that have an benefit to the organization, but cannot be measured in dollars.
      (see: two different merchandise awarding options)

Here is how to get your Employee Suggestion Program started - Topics:

Create an Employee Suggestion Review team
The team’s mission is to review every employee’s suggestion and acknowledge the receipt of each within a few days. The team should not be all managers, and should include members from many different departments. If the review team approves a suggestion, it will advance to senior management for final approval.     

Designate an Owner/Administrator of your Program
To ensure success, your suggestion program needs a senior manager as the owner/administrator, and must also be part of the review team. Responsibilities include making sure the whole process works as designed. Use these program guidelines and have a senior manager on the team who will show employees that this suggestion program is very important to your company.

Announce your Employee Suggestion ProgramAnnounce your Employee Suggestion Program
Gather the employees to announce your program. Talk about what you want to accomplish with your program. Define what kind of suggestions you want, such as: ideas to reduce costs, ways to increase efficiency and productivity, improve quality, identify opportunities to improve sales or services, ideas related to safety, and ideas that will improve employee attitudes and morale. Describe what makes a good suggestion (described below). Detail the Suggestion Review Process so they will know what to expect, and clearly define the rewards for approved suggestions.

Define what a good suggestion looks like
Every suggestion should clearly state the issue, include a detailed solution, an estimate of the cost to implement the solution, and an estimate of the projected savings or benefit if implemented. While this may sound like a lot to ask of an employee, it is vital information that is needed by the suggestion review team. The more information you can provide about the solution and its benefits, the better its chance of getting approved.

Encourage submissions from individuals and teams
While suggestions submitted by individuals should always be a part of your program, Team Collaboration and Team submissions should also be encouraged, and is where you could see some amazing results. Use these guidlines to design your program to encourage people to come together as teams to create solutions that may be bigger and better developed than is possible by just one person. 

Some employees may have great ideas, but are not able to detail an issue, or complete a cost/savings estimate, or develop a detailed solution.  However, if a Team Submission option is available in your program, then these valuable suggestions can be developed by the combined intelligence of a few co-workers. Read these guidelines for setting up a program and to get employee suggestion program ideas.

Define how the Suggestion Review Team will communicate
Timely feedback on the status of suggestions is important to keep employees motivated. Everyone will be anxious to hear what’s happening to their suggestion, so provide frequent updates at defined intervals.

All communications between the suggestion originator and the review team should be confidential. This includes requests for suggestion clarification, status reports, or rejection notices.

However, when a suggestion is accepted, the employee should be recognized publicly. Include a description of the suggestion and how the solution will benefit the company. If an award is involved, it should be presented at that time. While most employees will welcome this recognition, always respect the wishes of employees who do not want that spotlight and use these program guidelines.

Clearly Define the Rewards for Approved Suggestions
For approved suggestions that result in cost savings, the employee generally is awarded up to ten percent of the estimated savings, up to a defined maximum amount, for the first year the suggestion is implemented.

Clearly Define the Rewards for Approved SuggestionsFor approved suggestions that are difficult to measure its benefit, or does not result in specific cost savings, a series of tier-level merchandise awards should be clearly defined. Award Packets with Gift Catalogs allow the winner to select their own gift from a large selection of life-style gifts. Use these employee suggestion program ideas today, and start recognizing those employees.
Details: How to provide merchandise awards using Gift Catalogs

If you publically recognize employees and provide sufficiently substantial awards for adopted suggestions, the results of your program suggestion program will be amazing.

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