Purpose Employee suggestion scheme (ESS) have existed for many years and many articles have been published over the past decades. They have been studied from many perspectives to illustrate their objectives, nature, content, process, significance and the benefits. Arguments have also been made with respect to success and failures of the suggestion schemes. Although the corporations widely use the suggestion schemes to elicit the creative ideas of their employees, sustaining a suggestion scheme is still a challenge. The purpose of this paper is to extract the critical success factors and critical success criteria to the suggestion scheme and to discuss the importance of these factors on sustainability of suggestion system. This is a literature review paper. Design/methodology/approach This is a literature review paper. The research used the university library to search for the relevant material. The university has an access for 25,000 journals. As the university had the subscription to main databases such as EBASCO, SCIENCE DIRECT, EMERALD, Google Scholar and WILEY, a search was performed on these databases using the key terms. The keywords used in the searches included: Suggestion System, Suggestion Scheme, Employee Participation, Employee Involvement, Innovation, Employee Creativity and Ideas Management. The Google Scholar citation tab was also searched further to identify any related articles. The citations of resulting articles were scrutinized further for further clues. Findings This paper identifies 23 critical success factors and 9 critical success criteria for suggestion schemes. It also discusses the interconnection between the critical success factors and the critical success criteria. Further, the frequency of each of the factors is also presented. It recognizes the lack of work on the assessment framework for sustainability of a suggestion scheme. Practical implications This paper should be of value to practitioners of suggestion schemes and to academics who are interested in knowing how this program has evolved and where it is today and what future it holds. It offers practical help to an individual starting out on research on the sustainability of suggestion schemes. Originality/value The paper attempts to put together many factors discussed in the literature and proposed a definition to define the sustainability of the suggestion system and categorized them as critical success factors and critical success criteria.