It is no secret that state DOTs throughout the country have become adept communications organizations. The focus in many DOTs is turning away from the road to toward the people who use the transportation system – all its modes and priorities.
Whether you find yourself at a gathering of bridge engineers or environmental planners, the topic of communications has a good chance of being discussed.
And that’s why the newly released results of a nationwide state DOT survey focused on employee communications are worth noting. While DOTs are making strides in communicating externally, what about communicating internally?
The Minnesota Department of Transportation communications team was interested in knowing how other DOTs handled employee communication. They decided to develop a survey and worked with the Transportation Research Board to pull together a synthesis of practices.
Roughly half of the state DOTs surveyed participated in the synthesis. The report found that the most popular employee communication tools include newsletters and emailed news updates. Most employee newsletters are sent out monthly and others are sent out quarterly.
The topics covered ranged from job openings to legislative agendas to new baby announcements.
Just a few states use social media for internal communications. One state uses webinars. A few also use blogs directed at employees.
One of the most commonly overlooked key audiences is the internal audience. When a communication office is trying to build credibility with transportation customers, it is easy to forget how important it is to share critical information with your internal audience.
The good news is that the analysis found that state DOTs are making an effort of some kind to share news and information with their colleagues. Given the right tools, your employees can be excellent spokespersons for your agency. The DOTs that effectively engage their employees have the opportunity to reach communities on a highly credible person-to-person level that can reinforce or change the way in which an agency is perceived.
This synthesis is a good starting point to understand how state DOTs are communicating with their employees. Hopefully future research can build on this foundation and ask perhaps a more important question: Are these internal communication programs effective?