Indiana DOT's Continuous Listening Strategy Pays Off


The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) partnered with People Element in 2022 to help streamline their employee survey strategy and support their employee engagement.  They were able to identify strengths and opportunities and took action geared toward improving overall employee satisfaction and engagement. A year later their 2023 survey results showed that their hard work had paid off. 


Executive Leadership 

Employee perceptions of executive leadership are a common driver of employee engagement. After reviewing their 2022 results, INDOT leadership wanted to continue strengthening their relationship with employees. However, with employees spread across the state, they knew they would need to get creative.

First, they committed to visiting district locations more often to engage with employees as much as possible.  Also, INDOT’s Commissioner and Executive Leaders started creating videos to connect with employees they don’t get a chance to see regularly. Commissioner Mike Smith started a video series called “Mike Check” where he provides agency updates and takes the time to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond in their roles. The Executive Staff and Division Directors created their own video series where they focus on giving updates, introductions for their teams, and highlight projects they are overseeing for the agency.  

Leadership also focused on providing a warm welcome for newly hired employees by starting a “Welcome Wagon Lunch” for all new hires. Now, within their first week, new employees have lunch with the Executive team and various directors at their district location to ensure they feel a connection with leadership as early as possible.   


INDOT also made improving communication a priority. Their Communications Team partnered with leadership to send out “Executive Priority Points” (bi-weekly emails that share important agency information or actions that all INDOT employees should know). They also started utilizing a text message alert system that employees can opt into to receive important agency updates. Since a significant portion of staff work in the field and don’t always have access to a computer, this has been an important step in improving communication.

Growth & Development 

Another common driver of employee engagement is perceptions around growth & development. INDOT targeted growth & development perceptions by highlighting resources available to employees.  Specifically, they began promoting the benefits of the State’s new Education Reimbursement policy. On December 8, 2022, The State of Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College announced a new partnership that offered state employees an affordable education with no upfront tuition costs. By joining Ivy Tech’s Achieve Your Degree (AYD) program and adding Tuition Assistance to the Education Reimbursement policy, employees can now apply, enroll, and take courses at Ivy Tech without paying upfront. Once the courses are passed, the state pays Ivy Tech directly and there is no cost to the employees for attending. This program provides opportunities for employees to develop and grow their skills by expanding their education. 

INDOT began providing in-person presentations to their teams on various programs and development opportunities such as the Achieve Your Degree program to specifically reach employees who may not be aware of them.  

In 2022, their HR staff also started sharing internal job openings with their employees on a weekly basis. This gives their team the opportunity to be the first to know when there are positions that they could be considered for, and ultimately help further their career.  


Although compensation was not one of the key drivers of engagement in their initial engagement survey, positive changes in this area were already in motion. In 2022 the State of Indiana completed a compensation study and provided salary increases for many state employees. Those salary increases were announced in October 2022 and took effect before the end of the year. INDOT leaders were excited to see how much of an impact this would have on their 2023 survey results.


With all the action being taken, INDOT wanted to be sure their 2023 survey had a healthy participation rate. To boost participation, they met with each district to discuss communication strategies and resources needed to make the survey as easy to take as possible. This led to the organization incorporating QR codes into emails and flyers that could help direct employees to the survey. Having access to take the survey from a cell phone with a direct link or QR code was a huge benefit for those hard-to-reach field employees. 

The People Element platform allows clients to pull participation by key demographics such as location. INDOT took advantage of this feature throughout data collection and provided frequent updates on participation rates to each district location to continuously drive participation. They targeted lower participation rates and offered support as needed.  


INDOT’s commitment to continuous improvement by listening to their employees did not go unnoticed. Their actions were reflected in the results of their 2023 Engagement Survey.  

First, the organization’s 2023 survey ended with a 72% participation rate. This is a 19% increase compared to the previous year.

They also saw a 3% increase in overall Engagement and a 4% increase in overall Favorability. In fact, INDOT saw an increase in favorability for almost every single survey category. The most improved categories were the areas that they had targeted: 

  • Communication (+4) 
  • Compensation (+10) 
  • Executive Leadership (+11) 
  • Engagement refers to the percentage of the population that is engaged based on People Element’s Engagement Index. 
  • Favorability refers to the percentage of favorable survey responses (4 & 5’s on a 5-point Likert scale of agreement)

Indiana DOT acted on their employee feedback, and it has led to meaningful change for their workforce. Additionally, by making their surveys and communications more accessible, they have given more of their people an opportunity to share their valuable insights. It is clear that with the right tools and their commitment to continuous listening, Indiana DOT is primed for continued success.

People Element's Role

“People Element helped give us some direction in our efforts to improve our employee engagement. Being able to see the data in a digestible format and filter it to gain better insights has made it easier to figure out what actions to take and even where. Since this is our second year using People Element to conduct our engagement survey, we can see the improvements we’ve made across the board, and it confirms that our effort to listen and take action on areas identified by the survey is having an impact on our employee’s overall engagement and satisfaction.” – Talent Management Director, INDOT 

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