The Transportation Department on Tuesday launched an online community where its employees can share and collaborate on new ideas. The network - called IdeaHub - will enable the department to take employee engagement and innovation to the next level by allowing workers to do something they've never fully been able to do before - share ideas and collaborate with their 55,000 DOT colleagues across the country, according to a post by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the department's Fast Lane blog.
Employees can offer suggestions on ideas, and once an idea is posted, the employee community can vote it up or down. As ideas attract more votes and generate comments, they will advance to the department's IdeaHub liaisons and innovation council where they are evaluated and may get put into practice.
The online community also will allow the department to post challenges to employees as a way of getting people to think about specific questions or problems. The first of those challenges asks, "How can DOT help you do your job more effectively?"
Transportation follows the Homeland Security Department in launching an interactive tool exclusively for its employees. DHS announced in October 2009 plans to expand the Transportation Security Administration's IdeaFactory across the entire department, and the agency rolled out the online network to all employees in January.
In March, I blogged about research by Accenture that found that 97 percent of younger workers (ages 14 to 27) in the United States at least partly agree that access to state-of-the-art technology and social networking tools at work will be essential when choosing an employer. It stands to reason that online communities like IdeaHub and IdeaFactory would be beneficial to other agencies not only looking to improve employee engagement and innovation but also to recruit and retain the younger cadre of workers.