How to Create a Suggestion Box Policy

Planning to launch an employee suggestion box and want to ensure you’ve covered all bases?

You know, launching a suggestion box seems simple enough. You just need to get dedicated software and that’s that. Your suggestion box is running, and you’re pretty much done.  

Unfortunately, there is more to this. You need to make sure that everyone uses the suggestion box, and that they use it for the intended purposes. Not to mention that you have the processes and policies in place to deal with the feedback, particularly if it contains sensitive information. 

That’s where the suggestion box policy comes in. The document can help you define the suggestion box program and ensure that everyone – the company and its staff – understands how to use it correctly. 

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In this guide, I’ll show you how to develop a suggestion box policy for your organization. 

So, let’s do it. 

Why you absolutely must have a suggestion box policy?

Let me answer this question from two perspectives: what does having the policy mean for the company, and why is it important for employees. 

Part I. The company

From the company’s perspective, the suggestion box policy offers:

Clarity and clear guidelines into how the suggestion program operates, its objectives, standard operating procedures, and more. In other words, the policy outlines everything there is to know about the program in a clearly defined way.

It also outlines the program’s purpose and objectives. I know I mentioned that aspect briefly in the previous point, but it is an important one and perhaps deserves a longer explanation. 

The important thing to remember about suggestion box programs is that they shouldn’t be launched just for the sake of providing employees with a goal for launching feedback. 

In fact, companies with the most successful suggestion box programs launch several forms, each focusing on different aspects or objectives:

  • To collect employee ideas, also in relation to specific issues
  • To better understand what engages employees at work
  • To provide a whistleblower channel and more.
suggestion box objectives and types.

(Various suggestion box types in Suggestion Ox)

So, a suggestion box policy defines the objectives per program. It also ensures that everyone understands why you’re launching the suggestion box.

Suggestion box policy also ensures transparency. The policy will outline how employee feedback is handled, who is responsible for reviewing it, and how you decide on whether to act on it or not.​

Another benefit: Accountability. Since the policy specifies who is involved in the suggestion box review process, it also instills accountability. It communicates that suggestions are taken seriously, thoroughly reviewed, and the most relevant ones will be acted upon.

Finally, having the policy in place meets the legal requirements for the program. In fact, having a written policy will help your company maintain compliance with any relevant legal or regulatory requirements. It will also protect the company from any potential disputes regarding the handling of suggestions or employee feedback. 

Part II. Employees

From the employee perspective, having access to the suggestion box policy means several things. 

For one, the policy outlines expectations for feedback. Since the policy clearly defines the objectives of the program, it naturally also communicates: 

  • What types of suggestions are encouraged, 
  • How to submit them, and 
  • What the review process will look like. 

The policy will also help develop trust in the program overall. Unfortunately, many employees approach such programs with a negative attitude. As a result, they either refrain from sharing their feedback or deliberately skew their comments. 

Because it outlines and communicates the review process, the policy helps to establish a greater trust in the program. This, in turn, can help convince more employees to use the suggestion box and share their ideas and comments. 

Similarly, by clearly communicating and explaining the procedures to collect anonymous feedback, the policy can ensure employees that the program is a safe space to share ideas, comments, feedback, and concerns without the fear of reprisal. 

The policy clearly explains the next steps and the follow-up process should managers need to investigate the comments further. 

TIP: Tools like Suggestion Ox allow you to respond to employees anonymously. This allows you to have two-way conversations with them without ever compromising the person’s anonymity.

Example of employee feedback form.

(An actual suggestion box created with Suggestion Ox with a disclaimer that all further correspondence with the employee will be 100% anonymous.)

Finally, the suggestion box policy will encourage participation. I guess this is a no-brainer, really but still worth mentioning. The policy will add credibility to the entire program, encouraging more employees to participate and share their feedback.

How to develop a suggestion box policy

A quick note before we begin – The process I outlined below focuses largely on what information you should collect or identify to develop a suggestion box policy. However, there might also be legal requirements and additional steps to take to complete it in your company. 

Also, various industries, states, and countries have regulations around requiring an anonymous feedback mechanism or whistleblowing system. For example, the EU has the EU Whistleblower Directive so you might need to review the policy with the legal team to ensure full compliance. 

Overall, however, to develop a suggestion box policy, you need to follow these steps.

Step #1. Outline the purpose and objectives of the program

I’ve mentioned objectives several times in this guide already, and that’s for a reason. For your suggestion box program to succeed, you need to identify and then communicate its objectives. 

Some of the most common objectives include:

  • Identifying what engages your employees 
  • Gathering ideas and suggestions on specific issues or initiatives
  • Polling employees about specific initiatives
  • Increasing employee involvement in decisions that might affect the workplace
  • Identifying issues or concerns in the workplace, etc. 

Step #2. Appoint a team

You know – it’s easy to just hand the program over to HR and let them worry about it. But in practice, it’s not entirely their responsibility. 

For example, many objectives might require managers to be involved, too. Or the legal team. Or basically, anyone who’s overseeing the issue being addressed in the feedback. 

Your policy should clearly outline who those people are and their responsibilities. For example, it should define who will review submissions, who will respond and investigate issues further, and which teams will decide which suggestions or feedback to implement. 

Step #3. Establish submission guidelines

TIP: This step is relatively easy when you’re using a dedicated suggestion box software like Suggestion Ox. 

In this case, the biggest decision is what channels you will use to distribute the suggestion box: QR code, shareable link, Slack, or MS Teams. Other than that, the process for submitting feedback will be largely the same. 

suggestion box policy

But if you plan to use a physical suggestion box or build a custom solution using a survey platform, for example, you will also need to define how employees should submit their feedback.

Step #4. Outline evaluation criteria

I suppose that this could be the most challenging element of the process. You need to plan and outline the evaluation process, but you don’t know what sort of feedback you will receive. For that reason, you should consider different scenarios and develop a plan that covers:

  • How you are going to process suggestions and ideas. This might mean developing a process for grading and shortlisting ideas. 
  • How are you going to respond to sensitive feedback? Again, I recommend that you have a process for conversing with employees anonymously to ensure open communication. 
  • The process for investigating sensitive feedback and allegations, etc. 

Finally, this part of the suggestion box policy should also outline how you will communicate the program’s results, if applicable. 

Not every suggestion box program requires communicating results. However, if you’ve been asking employees to provide ideas or feedback on specific issues, it’d make sense to share and celebrate the best ideas. Not only will this validate the program, but showing employees that you’re taking their feedback seriously will also boost morale and engagement. 

Step #5. Document standard operating procedures

This information might not seem absolutely necessary for the policy, but I’d still recommend including it in the document. The SOPs will clearly communicate to all stakeholders their responsibilities, roles, tasks, and even when they should get involved in the process. 

Some examples of SOPs to develop include:

  • The process for communicating the policy. In other words, when will it be ready, where will employees be able to find it, etc. 
  • Promoting the suggestion box and reminding employees about the program. The latter is often even more important, and you need to have a clearly defined process and timelines for reminding employees to provide feedback. This might happen through posters and notifications, intranet messages, emails, etc.
  • Procedures for implementing feedback, response, and investigation of allegations, 
  • Processes for updating the policy (and communicating those updates) and more. 

After that, all that’s left is to launch the program and put the suggestion box policy in use. 

Good luck!

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