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How and Why to Incorporate a Virtual Suggestion Box in Your Surveys

The suggestion box. That wood-grained lonely-looking box that sits quietly in the corner of the employee break room. It’s a nice idea in practice, but when was the last time you or someone you knew slipped an idea in that little slot?

Enter in ... you guessed it — the online suggestion box via employee surveys. While an online survey question may drill down on a specific topic, it’s important to offer an open-ended suggestion box too. Our Employee Engagement Survey found that when asked, 18% of respondents include useful, actionable feedback. These invaluable insights wouldn’t bubble to the surface without the simple inclusion of a virtual suggestion box.

Consider this real-life example that an anonymous online survey uncovered regarding a daily morning phone conference. One participant couldn’t avoid driving during his team’s regular phone conference, resulting in the following feedback:

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By bringing up this concern, his team became aware of the issue and came up with an easy solution: they changed the conference time. A straightforward solution to a potentially dangerous situation emerged, thanks to a humble virtual suggestion box.

Here is just a short list of low-hanging fruit and more involved suggestions that we’ve seen in our own TINYpulse virtual suggestion box:

  • Requests for squeezing out the kitchen sponges to avoid smelliness

  • A desire for more team happy hours to help get to know a growing team

  • A suggestion that a manager offer more guidance to his direct reports

That these suggestions range from seemingly trivial to quite serious isn’t a mistake. After all, what is top of mind for an employee shifts from week to week. When considered in aggregate, these suggestions allow a manager to address not just the little things that make a workplace more enjoyable but also the big things that help retain employees. Plus, addressing the low-hanging fruit opportunities builds up goodwill within the organization for future changes.

But keep in mind that an anonymous survey can reveal uncomfortable criticism. When it does, be that much more prepared to act. In 2011 research published in the Journal of Business Ethics, it found that employees who felt listened to were better team players and provided input more frequently. And as we mentioned in Chapter 2, if you don’t act on survey feedback, your employees will become disengaged.

So if you really want a collaborative, engaged team, get ready to tackle all kinds of feedback from the desire for more shelving in a restroom to the way you handle one-on-one employee meetings.

Virtual suggestions at work
Client: A New York City-based nonprofit
Challenge: An organization is unaware that standardized processes weren’t uniformly adopted

Story: Our client recently implemented a new professional development framework for its managers and believed that the changes were being well adopted. As part of its weekly TINYpulse survey, our client asked if any employees had any recommendations for the team.

The result was the following response:

By proactively asking for suggestions, our client received greater insight not only into the extent to which teams were adopting new processes but also how to think about helping slower teams catch up.

This bottoms-up approach to solving problems helped our client develop a standard process for getting existing teams on board with new standards, an approach they later used to educate new employees on their internal practices.

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