As organizations continue to work in remote and hybrid environments, Gallup reported that employee engagement has declined for the first time in more than a decade. The Great Resignation is a reflection of this trend. Disengaged workers cost U.S. companies $450 - $550 billion in lost productivity every year. On the other hand, they found that highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.
In a time when Slack has become the predominant communication tool to collaborate digitally while working from home, it’s critical that business leaders get it right. With instant access to our colleagues, constant communication isn’t always a good thing. In fact, scientific research shows that high quality communication has a significantly stronger relationship with team performance than communication frequency.
Slack offers teams across on-site, hybrid, and remote environments to collaborate, while providing a company culture to transcend online. However, it’s important to establish Slack best practices around employee engagement and communication on the platform because it could be hurting internal collaboration. Here’s 5 tips to empower your teams with Slack communication and improve the employee experience.
Why Slack communication policies are needed to improve your work culture
Establishing a set of guardrails around employee use of Slack is more important than ever as businesses have leveraged the collaboration tool in their digital transformation. We analyzed how our teams at Time is Ltd. used the messaging platform throughout 2021.
Communication steadily increased on the platform with nearly 200,000 messages written and over 350,000 messages received. Those numbers have a real impact on the bottom line and productivity. First, the total time estimation to read and write those messages amounted to - 5,500 hours, which is equivalent to 3 years of a full time employee! When nearly a third of our workday is spent interacting with others, it’s important that we know how to use that time effectively.
Full TIL data from 2021: DMs, private, public channels, groups, archived.
In the words of our People & Data Scientist, Ludek Stehlik, Ph.D., on instant messaging platforms (IM) like Slack:
If your organization uses Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other digital collaboration tools, read on to learn 5 ways you can effectively use them to foster healthy team communication.
5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Through Slack
1. Keep company goals transparent, and keep employees in the know
When working from home, it’s natural that employees can feel out of touch with the organization’s mission. To achieve internal alignment, employees need to know what the mission and vision is, so that strategy and employee deliverables reinforce these goals. Having this knowledge gives employees an understanding of what they should be focused on.
"Recent research accentuates how important the connections between direction, strategy, goals, and purpose are to an organization’s sustained performance. [...] when people understand and are excited about the direction their company is taking, the company’s earnings margin is twice as likely to be above the median.” - The Aligned Organization, McKinsey & Company
Create announcement & feedback channels
Communication is a two-way street in which transparency is vital. Traditional hierarchy structures can prevent key information from being trickled down. Slack ‘levels the playing the field’, yet information can also become quickly siloed. The easiest way to mitigate that is having a dedicated announcement channel, and a place employees can ask questions or provide feedback.
- #updates or #announcement channel
Having a Slack announcement channel enables administrators to publish key company updates, policies, and wins.
- #exec-ama, #feedback
An AMA (ask me anything) channel can help foster trust by giving employees the space to ask questions, while helping leadership get real-time feedback.
2. Boost onboarding with networking on Slack
Joining a company in a remote environment has a set of new challenges. New hires need to feel welcomed, be able to find the right resources, and connect with their colleagues from afar.
- #new_hire channel, #help_onboarding
Having a dedicated channel for announcing new employees can make them feel welcomed, while encouraging them to foster new connections. Having a channel specifically for onboarding needs can help them get up to speed quickly.
3. Name slack channels effectively to source information faster
As organizations grow, so will the number of Slack channels. This can hinder productivity when employees can’t find what they’re looking for or there’s too many redundant channels. When your employees can’t find the right Slack channel or topic that belongs to an existing channel, they tend to create new ones. Understanding the similarity between channels can help companies consolidate them. There’s not a one-size-fits-all rule, but it’s generally wise to discourage private ad hoc groups with more than +/-3, and encourage employees to communicate in public Slack channels.
Sometimes it makes sense to address a message to +/- 3 people, however, it’s wise to avoid creating larger conversation groups that would have been better suited in a channel (private or public).
An easy way to evaluate this is by asking - does this conversation include a group of people that are the same members in another existing channel?
Having administrators take inventory of your channels can save employees time:
- pin important information to the top of the channel
- does each channel description reflect its contents?
- archive redundant channels
- develop clear naming conventions & guidelines for them
- encourage channel search
- provide an #FAQ_employee channel
Image Source: Slack
Slack introduced Channel Search so users can find relevant content, conversations, and channels easier than before. Check out Guru, a company wiki with Slack integration to help employees source information faster.
4. Let your employees personality & creativity shine
One of the best things about Slack is that it can make communication a lot more fun. It gives users the ability to send various types of content like videos, memes, GIFs, and respond with reactions/emojis. Employee sentiment can also be gauged through comments and questions. Allow your employees’ personalities to shine; it’s going to make internal comms way more engaging.
5. Incorporate focus time to cut the noise & empower work to get done
Slack can be great, but it also encourages people to respond quickly. This can be extremely distracting and take away time from doing high-quality work. Enabling ‘focus time’ hours can be helpful for giving people that much needed time to get work done. Second, it’s important to respect Slack statuses. If someone has a ‘DND’ or calendar emoji, respect their privacy.
Slack has become an integral part of the digital workplace. Like the physical office space, there are certain rules that need to be followed, and Slack should be no different. What’s more, setting up proper Slack guidelines can have a direct impact on productivity and employee engagement. Following these 5 tips can help you improve your workplace culture, better employee engagement, and reduce time sucks.
Time is Ltd. Slack Analytics offers business leaders a comprehensive picture of how their workforce is using the platform to improve productivity and the employee experience.