Six tips to improve your employee ideas scheme

employee ideas improve business

Employee ideas schemes, also known as suggestion schemes, can get a bad press. Not undeservedly though. In some organisations the suggestion scheme is limited to a tatty box in the canteen/coffee area. Ideas and suggestions are few and far between, and even when submitted there can often be little or no feedback on whether it will be implemented or not.

Did you know?

42% of employees have no idea where to submit an idea when it comes to them? And 80% have never been rewarded for a good idea they put forward?
You can change this with an online submission portal that gives employees the recognition they deserve for proactive thinking.
If you get your employee ideas scheme right then it can drive real business value and boost employee engagement. Here are six top tips to get your employee ideas scheme right:


1. Respect your employees’ ideas

The real expert at a job is the person doing the job. Your employees will often have ideas to improve the product, service or processes that managers may not spot. But this means that managers and senior leaders need to be enthusiastic about the scheme and committed to it.

Ideas should be properly evaluated and discussed, and it is essential that there is a timetable for evaluating the ideas and informing employees of the decision. For example, acknowledging receipt of the idea within 2 working days, ideas evaluated by the 10th day of the following month and feedback given to the employee personally by the 20th of the month.


2. Use an online system for collecting ideas

Online employee idea portals offer many benefits for organisations. They ensure that no ideas go missing and that the idea is attributed to the right employee. Over and above this, online systems also allow programme managers to monitor participation, and track an idea so that employees receive continual feedback on the status of their idea.


3. Encourage employees to collaborate on ideas

CollaborationEmployee ideas don’t need to be a solo effort, so ensure that your system allows both individual ideas and collaborative ideas. Collaborating on ideas can improve the concept further and generate additional input. However, you need to encourage a culture where employees are enthusiastic about engaging with their co-workers and unafraid to share their ideas.

Some online systems for submitting ideas have a social media element to them. The ideas are listed as anonymous but employees can like ideas and comment on them.


4. Feedback to your employees

Employees will quickly lose interest in an employee ideas scheme if they believe nothing happens once the idea has been submitted. Therefore, communicating the status of an employee’s idea is critical. It provides employees with reassurance that their idea hasn’t just been ignored, as well as maintains momentum and interest in the scheme.

Even if the idea isn’t one that will be implemented, thank your employees for their input, let them know the reasons why it won’t be taken further and explain to them what else they need to consider.


5. Recognise and reward ideas

Recognition for ideasIt’s vital that you recognise and reward employees for their ideas, whether they are adopted or not. For ideas that are adopted you can reward your employees with gift vouchers, points that can be redeemed against a range or merchandise or with a prepaid card.

It’s important that you also recognise those ideas that are rejected. All employees who submit an idea should receive a personal thank you – not a standard email. You could also offer small token rewards to employees when they submit their first idea.


6. Promote your programme

A programme won’t generate any ideas if your employees don’t know about it. Launch your programme with a fanfare: use newsletters, meetings, intranet or even hold a launch event. And tell employees how the scheme works, how to submit an idea, what information the suggestion needs to include and how ideas will be evaluated.

Promoting successful ideas and the impact it has had on the organisation, plus ensuring on-going promotional activities will maintain interest and participation in the scheme.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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Case Study: Talarius implement over 100 new ideas submitted by employees

Find out how recognition, reward and continual communication encourages employees to put their ideas forward at online gaming provider Talarius.

employee ideas scheme case study

“We are really pleased with how the system works, it’s very easy for all our colleagues to use. Employees can access this from their home or via our intranet making it accessible all day long! We hold a national conference once a year and have now incorporated a ‘call the slots: best idea’ award into the evening awards ceremony, which shows just how much this scheme means to both the company and our employees.”

Download Case Study 



  1. Guilherme Duarte says:

    Thank you for sharing your great insights. I would like to reinforce number 5! One of the biggest growth pains within companies is the lack of recognition and the decrease in celebrating daily victories due to the great focus on work.

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