9 Great Ways (and 1 Bad Way) to Reward Employee Suggestions

Thank You TrophyAre you considering starting an employee suggestion program? Or perhaps you already have one?

How you recognize and reward employee suggestions is one of the most important decisions you have to make.

If the rewards for good employee suggestions are poorly designed, you can discourage employees from submitting ideas. A good reward program, however, can encourage idea submission.

I’ve listed nine good options for rewards below. I’ve also described one bad idea (this may surprise you)!

Let’s look at good ways to recognize or reward your employees first.

Good Ways to Reward

1. A Handwritten Thank You Note

It is easy and fast to write an email. However, they often get buried in full inboxes. Emails can also sometimes feel impersonal.

A handwritten note often stands out and is something the recipient is more likely to keep. Writing a note by hand shows you’ve taken the time to show your appreciation.

2. Verbal Acknowledgement

Why not call an employee and ask them to pop into your office? Thanking someone face-to-face makes a better impression than a quick thank-you by email or phone.

Make sure you use your meeting only to thank an employee. Don’t spoil it by expanding your employee’s to-do list!

3. Public Mention in a Meeting or On a Bulletin Board

A personal thank-you will be appreciated by an employee – especially if it comes from a manager. But why not publicly celebrate a good idea? You can mention in a team meeting:

  • Good ideas that have been accepted for implementation
  • The results of ideas that have already been implemented
  • The employees (of course!) who submitted those excellent ideas

Celebrating good ideas publicly boosts your employee suggestion program and more employees will be encouraged to submit their ideas.

4. Virtual Rewards – Points, Badges, etc

Online suggestion software, such as IdeaGlow, allows employees to win badges or points for submitting ideas, commenting, voting, or for getting their ideas accepted. Points and badges can provide recognition and motivate employees.

5. A Trophy or Annual Award

An annual event to celebrate your employee suggestion program can create a positive buzz and encourage new ideas. But don’t recognize employee suggestions just once a year; ensure you provide more timely recognition, too.

Also, consider a trophy for the best ideas that were not implemented. An employee suggestion program isn’t just about winning ideas. Recognizing and rewarding effort can stimulate creativity, too.

6. Extra Vacation

What’s most valuable to your employees? Would they prefer a trophy or some extra vacation?

You don’t need to provide extra vacation for each good idea, but why not reward the employee that’s most actively involved in your suggestion program with extra vacation?

7. Flowers

Flower bouquets are usually associated with celebrations and happiness. Presenting flowers in the work place also provides a visible sign of your appreciation of an employee’s idea.

Deliver the flowers publicly and consider adding a card with signatures of the whole senior management team.

8. A Gift or Voucher

It’s difficult to come up with a gift that suits everyone. Instead, present a voucher so employees can choose their own gift. Or select a gift individually for each employee who submitted a good idea. It shows you really care.

However, it is important to avoid gifts with high monetary value. We’ll discuss this in more detail shortly.

9. Promotion

You may want to consider a promotion if an employee goes beyond his/her every day duties and comes up with a lot of great ideas that improve company performance.

A promotion recognizes the employee’s valuable contributions to the company.

One Bad Way to Reward an Employee Suggestion

A monetary bonus or commission for a good suggestion is almost always a bad idea.


Providing monetary rewards often extinguish intrinsic motivation. Bonuses and commission can demotivate your employees – and reduce creativity and team work. It’s better to show your appreciation in a more creative way.

Non-cash rewards – such as the 9 ideas above – often have a far higher motivational impact than cash rewards.

The Truth about Recognizing and Rewarding Employee Suggestions

When rewarding good suggestions, remember that a human touch counts most.

Informal recognition is as important as formal rewards. Remind senior managers to show their support with a spontaneous gesture.

Show employees you recognize their contribution. Reward their efforts. Be sincere and authentic when you show your appreciation.

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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