Should Suggestion Box Systems Use Anonymous Suggestions?

Businessman, shrugging, shoulders, unsure“Should we allow anonymous suggestions for our suggestion box?”

I’ve been asked this question many times by companies implementing employee suggestion programs.

Allowing anonymous suggestions for a suggestion box has its pluses and minuses. However, there is a better approach available. Keep reading to find out what it is…

Positives of Anonymous Suggestions

  1. More suggestions, especially outside-the-box suggestions.
    Would employees submit more suggestions if they could do so anonymously? This may certainly be the case. The option to remain anonymous can make employees less nervous about submitting outside-the-box suggestions. Employees may feel they can be more creative as they don’t need to fear ridicule of their colleagues or retribution from management.
  2. Unbiased feedback
    When employees know the identity of the submitter, the feedback they provide on the suggestion can be biased. Hiding the identity of the submitter can make the feedback more unbiased. Employees will then evaluate a suggestion based on its merits, rather than the personal relationship or the job title of the submitter.

Negatives of Anonymous Suggestions

  1. Harder to Recognize/Reward
    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?
  2. Encourages Unproductive Gripes
    Anonymous ideas can encourage unproductive gripes from employees and can lead to a negative culture.
  3. Suggestion program managers may not take ideas seriously
    Suggestion program managers may not take suggestions from anonymous submitters as seriously. While this can be avoided by training the managers, this can adversely impact your suggestion program.

The good news it, there is an approach that enables you to tap into the positives listed above, while avoiding the negatives.

The Solution: Semi-Anonymity

The solution is: Semi-Anonymity.

Here’s what “semi-anonymity” means:

  • Suggestion program manager knows the identity of each submitter.
  • However, submitters remain anonymous to other employees.

Our experience suggests that semi-anonymity can give you the best of both worlds. With this approach, you can tap into the positives of anonymous suggestions, while avoiding the negatives.

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Alex Ramirez

Hello, I'm your author, Alex Ramirez. I spend a lot of my time researching the best practices for Employee Suggestion Programs, and writing articles to share them. I hope you find them helpful! I work at Accompa - one of our products is IdeaGlow Employee Suggestion Program Software.

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