Communication Breakdown – Why Slack Is Selling You Short

Posted 09 May, 2019 in Internal Communications

Team collaboration tools have been a shiny new tool for businesses, but their allure may already be fading.

Far from enabling improved workplace productivity, some businesses are finding that collaboration tools like Slack create a “productivity pit”, draining employee time without benefiting the business.

Could Slack be selling you short too?

Internal communications research reflects this shortcoming. Nearly half of professionals surveyed didn’t believe social channels were effective within their organization.

As such, the adoption of collaborative or social channels has continued to be slow. 65% of internal communicators reported adoption of social channels as average or worse – a decline from 2017.

But what does Slack do well and where is it lacking?

How do Slack and SnapComms compare to – and complement – each other.

How do Slack and SnapComms compare?

If all you need is a chat tool for employees to message over, then Slack could do the trick. But if your internal communications has to deliver more, you’ll need other tools in your armory as well. That’s where SnapComms could be the answer.

The SnapComms platform and Slack collaboration tool have different but complementary strengths. Slack is a ‘single point’ collaborative tool – it has the sole role of employee messaging. SnapComms is a multi-channel business communication platform – combining top-down and interactive channels.

slack-snapcomms-spectrum-sm

 

A comparison of key features and capabilities reflect the relative strengths of each.

 FEATURE SLACK SNAPCOMMS
Service delivery Single-channel messaging app Omni-channel platform
Message scheduling No Yes
Message recurrence No Yes
Guaranteed message cut-through Messages are added to the feed so have low visibility High visibility and recurrence ensure all messages are received and read 
Employee chat Yes No
Tailored messaging Single channel only Message content tailored by channel
Active directory group targeting Limited Full
Branding customization Limited Full
On-screen notifications Limited Full
Reporting Limited activity feed & message tracking Dashboard, full readership & engagement tracking

 

What’s Slack good for?

The strength of team collaboration tools is encouraging dialogue between employees. Questions can be asked, responses posted and agreement reached, all in real-time without emailing or picking up a phone. It’s an active discussion where everyone’s opinion is heard.

Collaboration tools can be especially useful in workplaces where staff operate as virtual teams. Based in different locations, or even time zones, they need to liaise effectively on shared projects.

Areas where tools like Slack can be strong in are:

  • Improved information sharing and communication
  • Alignment of individuals as virtual teams
  • Integrations with external task management and productivity tools

But this is only half the story…

Why Slack is lacking

Despite their initial appeal, team collaboration tools are increasingly seeing a lack of leadership support and activity. Only a third of internal communicators felt that senior leaders supported the channels and were active on them. Why is this?

1. There’s noise but no clear voice – Collaboration tools aren’t designed for fast delivery of information that employees need to read. Important, company messages lose their impact. The ‘single source of truth’ is diluted by noise and opinions.

2. Chattering has replaced communicating – Over-communicating and unconstructive messaging between employees can seriously disrupt your workplace. On Slack, everyone has an equal voice. Messages of high importance or which demand a response are easily missed.

3. Your communication stream has become a flood – The constant bombardment of incoming messages and notifications overwhelms employees. The wealth of comments posted and opinions shared often just add to information overload. This leads to messages being ignored by employees already busy with their workloads.

4. It’s collaborative, but not productive – Using Slack has the appearance of working, but may not actually be a productive use of time. Using chat tools for inconsequential messages of no business value is commonplace. Indeed, it was reported that when Slack had an outage in 2018, staff were more productive than a comparable time when Slack was available.

5. You’re missing the wood for the trees – Slack discussions tend to be short and shallow, where quick updates are fine but full conversations or big-picture discussions are difficult to achieve.

6. It’s serving no purpose – Part of the problem with team collaboration tools like Slack is the absence of an agreed purpose and means of judging value. More than half of internal communicators feel that these channels don’t have a clear purpose within their organization. Nearly two-thirds can’t demonstrate their value.

Slack + SnapComms

Slack and SnapComms can be used effectively as complementary tools, rather than competitive.

SnapComms delivers in areas that collaboration tools cannot – sending priority messages that staff need to see (such as system outage notifications, emergency alerts or internal crises) and reinforcement messages to foster behavioral change (around training or culture, for example).

The SnapComms platform provides 100% readership of internal communications – getting employee attention even when everyone’s so busy.

Using SnapComms and collaboration tools in tandem combines top-down, authoritative, trusted communications with two-way, interactive messaging.

In fact, SnapComms can be integrated with Slack message boards. The SnapComms-Slack integration allows communicators to push important messages to Slack users directly from the SnapComms Content Manager.

Combining collaboration tools with SnapComms could be used in a range of situations, such as:

  • An important company announcement is sent to all staff via SnapComms; open responses to the announcement are then monitored via Slack as an informal workplace ‘temperature check’
  • IT system outages or emergency alerts are sent with high priority via SnapComms; a communications effectiveness assessment is then carried out via Slack

 

Team collaboration tools can fulfill a useful role in today’s workplaces, but their narrow employee messaging scope means that their optimal use is when partnered with other communication channels.

By utilizing a communications technology stack which supports your organizations needs, this helps ensure that employees on Slack are not simply slacking off. 

Internal Communications

Michael Hartland

More blogs by Michael Hartland

Michael Hartland is Internal Communications Specialist at SnapComms - the market-leading provider of digital employee engagement solutions. Michael's most happy when writing. The beauty of language and the power of communication are his passions.