PennDOT tools offer path to employee engagement

By Mary Ebeling

PennDOT’s IdeaLink 20/20 employee engagement tool, launched in 2011, complements the agency’s long-standing approach of imbedding innovation in the agency. PennDOT has approached the effort of employee engagement with the view that agency employees are knowledgeable about what actions could be taken to improve individual, department, and agency effectiveness. IdeaLink, an example of an effort to improve the agency’s internal environment from the perspective of operations, efficiency, and cost, offers tools and lessons on improvement from which other agencies can learn.

PennDOT launched IdeaLink 20/20 to strengthen the agency’s internal employee engagement. The online system encourages PennDOT employees to share innovative ideas to improve the agency efficiency, safety, customer service, cost savings, morale, and revenue generation. Developed in-house, this bottom-up approach provides input from staff at all levels.

Several Pennsylvania state agencies have expressed interest in implementing similar tools. As a result, PennDOT’s Bureau of Innovations (BOI) recently conducted demonstrations of IdeaLink 20/20 with the departments of Aging, Community and Economic Development, Education, and State, the Governor’s Office of Administration, departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Corrections. Additionally, the Department of State (DOS) engaged BOI in dialogue, and BOI provided guidance to DOS.

Buy-in from employees appears strong; since launching IdeaLink, PennDOT employees have submitted over 2,300 ideas, many of which were implemented or partially implemented. Efforts have resulted in the development of numerous best practices, notably the installation of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at every PennDOT facility, resulting in one life being saved already.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.