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Tips on Defining Rules for Employee Suggestion Programs

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 11/17/2010

Employee suggestion programs involve seeking formal and structured feedback from employees on how to improve things, and usually come with rewards for accepted suggestions. The success of this initiative however depends on well-structured rules and regulations. Read on for important tips when formal

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    Define the Program

    Employee Sugegstion Rules The primary consideration of any employee suggestion schemes is to define the program in terms of what the program intends to achieve, the type of suggestions invited, any special format in which to submit the suggestion, and the like. For instance, if the nature of suggestions are ideas that do not cause the company significant capital outlay, or ideas to increase revenue, such limitations needs mention.

    Other primary information that requires clarity include:

    1. duration of the program, or the period after which the suggestions would be considered for implementation or rewards.
    2. definition or clarity of concepts or technical terms involved. For instance, “suggestions to raise revenue" creates confusion. Defining what exactly constitutes “revenue" and assigning a measurable figure to “raise" as a percentage or a fixed amount clears the doubts and makes the program more acceptable.

    Clarity in definitions and the rules of the game clear misconceptions, encourage participation, and lend credence to the program.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Hash Milhan

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    Participation

    One major component of employee suggestion rules is specifying who may participate and who may not. Some suggestion schemes may be open only to employees of a certain department or designation, and some schemes exclude the people working in human resource department who administer the scheme from participating, other schemes exclude probationers and temporary employees from participating, and the like.

    The employee suggestion rules also need to clarify whether there can be group submissions, whether one suggestion can include only one suggestion, and the number of suggestions or co-suggestions allowed per employee during a period, whether an employee can withdraw or edit a submission, and the like.

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    Awards

    Another important component of employee suggestion rules is the awards for accepted suggestions. This should include clarity on the methodology used to rank suggestions for acceptance and awards, the nature of awards, information of the judges, the when and how of delivering the award to the employee, and the like.

    The rules related to awards also need to incorporate details on whether it is possible to make appeals to reconsider the rankings, and if so, the time limits to make such appeals, the procedure to make the appeal, and the appellate authority. The rules also need to clarify if the decision of the judges or the appellate authority is final and binding.

    The rules that focus on awards need to convince employees regarding the objectivity of the program, and dispel notions of favoritism in making awards.

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    Disqualifications

    Employee suggestion rules should make explicit the factors that would disqualify a suggestion from consideration for implementation or awards. Some common instances for disqualification of suggestions include:

    • unsigned suggestions or suggestions not in the prescribed format or medium
    • suggestions expressing personal grievances, or personal criticisms
    • unsubstantiated personal preferences
    • suggestions that include features already implemented or under consideration
    • suggestions that contract company policy or law
    • ideas not substantiated as required
    • any suggestion outside the scope of the scheme as defined in the rules

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    Other Considerations

    Other common inclusions in the employee suggestion rules for staff suggestion schemes include:

    • the status of the submitted work, whether it remains company property and whether the company has the liberty to use it, in the eventuality of both acceptance and rejection
    • clarification of patent for the suggestion, if relevant
    • whether any non-related issues such as employee absence, misconduct, terminations, resignations or the like would make an employee ineligible for the award
    • whether the employee has the facility to track the status of the suggestion, and if so how
    • whether the suggestion would remain confidential

    All the aspects covered in the rules and regulation needs mention in comprehensive detail. The rules and regulations of the employee suggestion scheme is a legal document having far-reaching implications for a healthy human resource climate, and no point remains too small or trivial to include.

    A properly formulated employee suggestion policy serves as a valuable motivational tool, increases employees commitment, and ownership of work. Failure to draft comprehensive rules and regulations on the other hand turns the scheme counterproductive, creating ill will, cynicism, misunderstanding, and feelings of inequity and favoritism.

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    References

    1. State of Nebraska DAS. Ideas Pay Off! Suggestion System Rules. Retrieved from http://statejobs.nebraska.gov/idea/rules.html on 12 November 2010.
    2. State Council on Competitive Government. “Employee Incentive Program Guidelines." Retrieved from http://www.ccg.state.tx.us/documents/EIPGuidelines.pdf on 12 November 2010.