Slack illustration for report on engagement

Comparing work in Slack to email and Microsoft Teams

An analysis of qualities of work with different tools, and why employees feel more engaged, supported and empowered in Slack

Some employees log in late, only to count down the minutes to when they can log off again. Others can’t wait to connect with colleagues, share ideas and deliver inspired projects. As of July 2020, Gallup reports that just 36% of workers represent the latter group.

We wanted to understand which communication tool encourages the most engaged employees, and discover how they leverage that tool or platform to find happiness and purpose at work. Armed with such knowledge, companies have an opportunity to lower turnover, boost customer satisfaction and improve overall performance.

In this Reframing Engagement Report, we set out to uncover these answers and more. Conducted with Quadrant Strategies among more than 1,800 knowledge workers, 600 of whom were Slack users, 600 of whom were Microsoft Teams users and 600 of whom were email users, the survey revealed that Slack users are more engaged with Slack’s product, use it to tackle a greater variety of work and are overall more satisfied than users of Teams and email.

Users get up to speed and gain confidence faster with Slack

Understandably, employees are turned off when it’s not immediately apparent how a tool will improve their day-to-day work life. Simple to navigate for engineers, designers, CEOs and everyone in between, Slack’s intuitive interface empowers new users to quickly leverage its capabilities. In fact, 45% of users found Slack extremely easy to learn.

Not only are Slack users quick to adopt the platform, they’re 17% more likely than Teams or email users to report higher levels of self-perceived ‘expertise’ with Slack. Teams users did not feel as confident, even after using it for six months, according to our research.

When you understand a tool, you’re inclined to use it more. During an average workday, 62% of Slack users spend over three hours in Slack, with 18% using it for over seven hours. To collaborate with colleagues when they’re not at their desks, users are almost twice as likely to engage with Slack on mobile devices than Teams users.

  • 45%

    of users found Slack ‘extremely easy’ to learn

  • 62%

    of users spend over three hours of their workday in Slack

  • 18%

    of users spend over seven hours of their workday in Slack

  • ~2x

    as likely for Slack users to engage on mobile vs Microsoft Teams users

To properly evaluate what drove user satisfaction, we used the same seven attributes across the board and asked, ‘How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with each of the following aspects of Slack/Microsoft Teams/email?’

  1. Performance: the time between when a worker tries to do something in the product and when the product responds.
  2. Completeness: the degree to which the product’s features cover all of a worker’s needs.
  3. Education: the availability of resources that help the worker to understand how to use the product.
  4. Team fit: the fit between the worker’s team’s needs and the features that the product offers.
  5. Reliability: the ability to stay connected to the product when the worker is online.
  6. Quality: the amount of thought and care that the people building the product put into the worker’s experience with the product.
  7. Support: the availability of resources for troubleshooting any issues that the worker has while using the product.

These attributes align with those used in Slack’s Tenured User Survey (TUS). We also added one non-TUS attribute in ‘ease of use’, and defined this as the degree to which the product is intuitive.

Users reported being satisfied with all Slack attributes, most notably reliability, performance, availability of support and educational resources. Users are more likely to find Slack ‘irreplaceable’ as a tool, compared to Microsoft Teams users who are more indifferent.

Users streamline their workflows, connect quickly and stay informed with Slack

We’re all familiar with the ‘work’ that gets in the way of actual work – the time- and attention-hogging necessities of staying organised, scheduling meetings, sorting and responding to relevant emails and collecting the right information. Often, these tasks can be tedious, and take up almost half of the average workday.

Thankfully, Slack can streamline these tasks. Defined as the things that one must do to enable ‘real work’, these tasks were listed as 28 different ‘jobs’ in our survey – and workers noted that Slack facilitated almost every one, especially the following:

  • Quickly discussing a topic
  • Staying aware of others’ work and informed on announcements
  • Getting an answer from others and answering their questions
  • Staying updated on any given project’s status
  • Collecting the thoughts and opinions of a group

Overall, Slack users leverage the platform for 10% more of these ‘jobs’, and are more satisfied with its performance than Microsoft Teams users. The data also shows that email is far less versatile in the modern workplace, where efficient and impactful work requires speed and collaboration. In place of drawn-out email chains, Slack allows users to delegate tasks, keep teams aligned and find the right answers.

On average, Slack users are 8% happier using Slack for their work activities when compared to Microsoft Teams and email. Here’s more from our survey:

  • 20%

    happier using Slack to stay informed on announcements

  • 18%

    happier using Slack for project planning and updates

  • 18%

    happier using Slack for quick discussions with others

Slack users are more satisfied with their jobs

Job satisfaction and retention are strongly correlated to an employee’s opportunity for growth, sense of purpose and perception of support received by their company. For example, our research found that email users are three times more likely to be dissatisfied with their roles than Slack users, and Slack users report up to 15% higher levels of job satisfaction than Microsoft Teams/email users.

We also found that job satisfaction is related to intrinsic motivators such as purpose, and how a company supports that, while retention is correlated with structure, belief in leadership, feeling valued and heard and receiving recognition from others.

  • 65% of Slack users are empowered to make strategic decisions, vs 46% of Microsoft Teams users and 48% of email users
  • 74% of Slack users feel that they have the tools to be successful at work, vs 58% of email users
  • 67% of Slack users feel that they have the right leadership, vs 55% of Microsoft Teams users and 54% of email users

A majority of Slack users directly attribute their use of Slack to feeling more supported by their company, satisfied with their autonomy and being recognised for their accomplishments. On the other hand, email users are three times more likely to be dissatisfied with their roles than Slack users. Compared to Microsoft Teams users, Slack users are more likely to feel that Slack directly helps them to achieve work-life balance, and has a positive impact on both their purpose at work and recognition from their peers.

What’s next?

Today’s workers are engaging differently depending on the tools that their company provides, giving leadership an opportunity to more effectively position their teams for both happiness and success.

Since Slack users easily and efficiently engage with the product itself, they can leverage its capabilities to tackle a larger variety of jobs than with Microsoft Teams or email. The tool empowers employees to work in their own way, successfully tackle each day’s challenges and make quick, strategic decisions. This means that they’re more likely to have job satisfaction and enjoy an improved quality of work life with Slack. The more engaged the employee, the happier they are – and the better work that they produce.

Methodology

The Reframing Engagement Report was conducted by Quadrant Strategies among 1,800 knowledge workers in the US aged 18–64. It included an oversample of 600 Slack users, 600 Microsoft Teams users and 600 email users. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation, which in this study is +/- 3%. For more information about this study, please get in touch with pr@slack.com.

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