Chicago Transit Authority

The Challenge

Communicating broadly and effectively

Transit agencies manage an enormous amount of information – schedules and announcements for buses, trains, construction projects, maintenance updates, and more. While a government agency must deliver on these elements that are primarily public-facing, they must also keep the administrative machine running, which means simultaneously managing smooth operations within payroll, union rules, and driver assignments.

When the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the nation’s second-largest transit agency, adopted a new, all-encompassing workforce management software program that required months of research, planning and testing, they looked to Marj Halperin to communicate changes with its 5,000 employees. In this case, effective communication was imperative to the program’s success.

The Solution

Providing managers and employees with hands-on training and resources

Marj Halperin and team developed a multi-layered communications strategy that would speak to employees in different formats, without overwhelming them with too much detail.

The centerpiece of this strategy was hands-on field training by CTA experts. Marj Halperin and team developed an informational toolkit for employees, a communications piece that empowered managers at every rail yard, bus garage and train depot to provide clear, specific and accurate information to their teams. Each toolkit outlined the benefits of the new program to employees, the simplicity of its operation, and the new terms staff would need to learn over time. The “FAQ” section included questions that managers were most likely to be asked by their employees. The last page listed contact information for 24-hour support – a critical element for a transit agency that operates around the clock.


The Results

Practical, concise and widely successful communication

The plain-language toolkit was easy to use and practical for managers – designed in a compact booklet, managers could easily refer to information quickly while on the job. Beyond the manager toolkits, Marj Halperin and team worked with the CTA to develop workplace posters for bus garages and employee payroll stuffers – materials and delivery systems that fit into their daily routines and complemented the agency’s live training events for managers.

Materials were unveiled during summer 2015 through each bus garage and rail operations unit and the rollout was successful. The CTA reported that employees easily understood the plain language of Marj’s materials. Months after the initial rollout, CTA told us, staff still referred to the toolkit to help do their job.