How to Create an Employee Suggestion Form

Girl WonderingYou’re launching an Employee Suggestion Program, because you’d like to harness the creativity of your employees; and to improve company performance.

Creating an Employee Suggestion Form is one of the things on your long to-do-list. You had hoped that creating a form would be one of your easier tasks, but it is causing you a headache.

Some managers want to keep the form as simple as possible to encourage more ideas. Others prefer an extensive form to encourage employees to think carefully about the ideas they submit.

What’s the best way to create a form to seek employee ideas?

To help you create a suggestion form I’ve listed the key issues to consider.

1. Should a Suggestion Form Be Anonymous?

Would more employees submit ideas if they could do so anonymously?

This may certainly be the case. The option to remain anonymous can make employees less nervous about submitting out-of-the-box ideas. Staff may feel they can be more creative as they don’t need to fear ridicule of their colleagues.

However, anonymous ideas can sometimes hamper your suggestion program. How can a senior manager thank employees for their contribution to the company if they don’t know who submitted an idea? How can you reward an employee for fantastic ideas that boost company profits?

Our experience suggests that in most cases the program administrator or committee should know the name of the person who submitted an idea. They should, however, offer employees the opportunity to remain anonymous to other employees. It’s wise to check again when an idea is accepted, as employees may change their mind about anonymity if their idea is implemented!

An Employee Suggestion Form should include:

  • Fields for employee name and department (plus employee number if used).
  • A check box for employees to indicate they prefer to remain anonymous.
  • The date an idea was submitted.

2. What Information Should Employees Provide About Their Idea?

Would you like employees to submit feasible ideas that will contribute to your business?

And would you like to avoid unnecessary evaluation of unrealistic or self-serving ideas?

It’s probably best to request employees to provide a brief (and only a brief) justification for their idea. The following information should be provided:

  • A brief summary of the idea. (One sentence)
  • The primary benefits of the idea. Will the idea save costs, increase revenue, or increase safety? (See also section 3 of this blog post.)
  • Detailed description of the idea. (4-5 sentences)

Some organizations also ask for the following information, but we recommend against it:

  • Estimated costs to implement the idea.
  • A brief plan how the idea should be implemented.

The reason we recommend against information such as the ones listed above is – it is best to keep the form simple to get a lot of ideas. You can always get further information later on. Asking for complex information will drastically reduce the number of ideas employees submit.

As part of your Employee Suggestion Program, you should train employees how to complete the form.

3. How To Use Categories To Direct Idea Generation

If you allow employees to submit ideas about anything, they may feel unsure about which ideas are welcome. You may be hampering idea generation by leaving options wide open. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

Instead, consider limiting your program. Focus on idea generation for one specific topic. British Airways, for instance, focused its program on reducing emissions and cutting fuel bills.

If there’s a particular issue in your business, then seeking ideas on one specific topic may be your best option. Depending on your topic, you can ask employees to answer the following question on your form:  How will your idea improve customer service?

Maybe you don’t like to focus on just one idea because your organization has several business goals. You may need to reduce costs plus improve safety. Or you may seek new product ideas and you want to improve customer service. In this case, you can:

  • Add all relevant categories to your form and request employees to check the appropriate category for their idea.
  • You can also focus on one topic each month.

Not sure about which categories to add? Check out our examples of employee suggestions that improved company performance

4. Should an Employee Suggestion Form Be Electronic?

Old-fashioned suggestion boxes can still work. You can get your employees to complete a paper form and use a wooden or acrylic box for idea submission.

Creating an electronic form has, however, many benefits. It saves paper (this is more planet-friendly!) and makes sharing ideas a lot easier. Online employee suggestion software will allow you to:

  • Keep a handy overview of all ideas submitted
  • Manage the evaluation and feedback process in one place
  • Allow employees to co-operate on generating ideas
  • Enable employees to comment on and vote for ideas

If you’d like to find out more about employee suggestion software, check out our free 30-day trial.

The Perfect Employee Suggestion Form

The perfect employee suggestion form doesn’t exist.

Your form has to balance requesting more information and keeping the form simple.

Start with my suggestions as listed above, you can always change it later based on your needs.

To get new information we publish on employee suggestion programs, sign up using the box at the top-right. Companies of all sizes (from Fortune-500s to growing startups) use software from IdeaGlow to build their own employee suggestion programs. IdeaGlow is affordably priced and relatively easy to implement. If you’re interested, you can apply for a FREE 30-day trial.


Leila Durmaz

Hello, I'm your author, Leila Durmaz. I spend a lot of my time researching the best practices for innovation management, and writing articles to share them. I hope you find them helpful! I work at Accompa - one of our products is IdeaGlow innovation management software.

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