The Slack handbook for HR teams

From recruiting and hiring to supporting a better employee experience, learn how to drive growth and increase business impact with Slack

This is HR’s time

Let’s face it: the entire business world is changing fast, but no companies are under more pressure to change than big global businesses. Like yours.

You’re confronted with:

  • New business models and customer-centric processes
  • Digital transformation across the business
  • New technologies and systems
  • New competitors and disruptors

With this much change, success often comes down to one thing: how well you keep your employees informed, aligned and engaged. That’s why so many large enterprises are turning to their HR leaders as critical partners in transforming business strategy into action.

Change among the change drivers

But while HR is helping to guide all this corporate change, the HR discipline and department itself is changing just as dramatically:

  • The battle for talent has never been fiercer.
  • A multi-generational workforce is changing the shape of work.
  • New regulations require new approaches to recruitment, pay, privacy, diversity, benefits and employee data.
  • New HR tech is here to help, but creates its own change management challenges.

At times like this, many of the most progressive HR leaders are looking underneath the company’s more obvious challenges to reconsider the fundamental dynamics of HR work. They’re analysing:

  • How HR teams collaborate, communicate and share knowledge
  • How strategies, policies and decisions are made and communicated
  • How HR workstreams cross departments and disciplines
  • How dispersed and mobile teams work together

What are they seeing? That legacy collaboration tools aren’t keeping up. Emails, meetings and conference calls alone don’t support the way that people want and need to work today. Modern workers are looking for alternatives that offer the kind of experience that they get with the chat apps they use in their own time.

So they’re seeking out real-time collaboration tools, but when there isn’t a standard collaboration platform for the organisation, information gets siloed and isn’t searchable. Conversations happen in one place (or many), and the actual work gets done in another. That’s not to mention the potential security risks.

There’s a better way for HR to work

HR departments at some of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies are turning to Slack, not only to streamline and automate their own discipline, but also – in partnership with IT and line-of-business leaders – to drive change across the whole enterprise. That’s what this guide is about: how Slack-powered HR departments get more done, make a bigger impact on the business, create more engaged work cultures and accelerate change.

Today’s HR work involves more distributed teams, more mobile work and more collaboration with other departments – all using more systems and applications. And that’s exactly where Slack shines: turning all that complexity into something that humans can manage.

Employee experience and the HR mission

Just as customer experience captured the attention of boardrooms across every industry, employee experience (EX) is shooting up the corporate agenda.

Today, HR leaders recognise that delivering a great EX dramatically improves your company’s ability to attract, retain and engage employees.

Companies that deploy Slack see immediate and long-lasting effects on EX.

Making work simpler, more productive and more pleasant releases the energy that people want to bring to work – energy that is too often dissipated by frustrating processes and systems.

And for HR leaders, smarter collaboration and process automation make it easier for them and their teams to stay focused on the bigger EX picture.

How HR leaders use Slack to increase their impact

Slack is a new kind of collaboration platform, organised by workspaces and channels. It brings together the right people and information at the right time. Say goodbye to redundant meetings and inefficient email chains – Slack makes collaboration open, knowledge sharing easy and alignment inevitable.

HR leaders use Slack to improve four key areas:

  • The way that HR works with the entire company
    Including better onboarding, communication, training, employee feedback management, performance reviews, raises, promotions, transfers and job changes.
  • Work within the HR department
    Integrating with core HR software to speed up decision-making, centralise knowledge, keep everyone in the loop and support work from anywhere.
  • Employee engagement and alignment
    Promoting a modern employee experience, strategic transparency and a positive, inclusive workplace culture.
  • Collaboration across the entire organisation
    Partnering with IT and business leaders to improve collaboration, knowledge sharing, decision-making, compliance and data stewardship across the entire business.

In all of these areas, the simple switch from information silos and fragmented communications to channels and an open collaboration platform has a major effect on efficiency, productivity and happiness at work.

These profound changes help to improve work measurably wherever Slack is deployed. Let’s look at some examples.

Slack makes your HR software more effective

Slack amplifies the power of your HR software platform and your team’s preferred HR and productivity tools. Our close partnerships and deep integrations with software such as Workday, PeopleSoft, Oracle, ADP and SuccessFactors let your teams bring these tools – plus a huge range of specialist HR and productivity apps – right into Slack. That means your people can:

  • Search for files across apps
  • Share data with other teams
  • Organise notifications and updates

In short, the things that people do every day can be done more easily right inside Slack (such as finding immediate answers to questions about things like payroll, benefits and the status of annual leave requests). Look for more integration examples throughout this guide.

Theme one: Accelerate recruiting and hiring

Slack speeds up the search for new talent while protecting sensitive data and conversations.

Simplify job postings

Before a position is posted, create a private channel to discuss scope, pay band, title and so on between hiring managers, heads of department and recruiters. Then collaborate on the final job description, and once it’s ready to go, pin your document or post to the channel. Once it’s posted, use the channel to discuss timelines for the first round of candidate presentations.

Track candidates throughout the entire process

After a role has been posted, a lot of HR teams create additional private channels. One is for the hiring manager, HR business partner, recruiter and sourcer to share stand-out CVs, organise interviews and finalise offers. Because your applicant tracking system integrates with Slack, you get automated updates in the channel at key milestones – such as when the candidate moves forwards in the interview process, when an interviewer submits feedback, when an offer letter is sent and when an offer is accepted.

Another private channel is for your interview panel. Here, you’ll upload candidate CVs and on-site schedules, pin the job description and corral feedback after interviews.

This single point of collaboration leads to faster, better hiring decisions and more responsiveness to candidates.


Theme two: Streamline onboarding for new starters

Giving new starters a warm, professional welcome, with clear access to important information, turns their new-job jitters into focused engagement. It also helps to get them up to full productivity quickly.

Instead of turning up on the first day of work to an empty inbox, followed by a torrent of forwarded emails, new starters start exploring channels with conversations that are relevant to their role. For example, a #welcome channel in Slack gives them a place to ask questions, meet other new starters and find the most important company information, including the company mission and key policies that you pin to the top of the channel.

You can create unique channels for each cohort of new starters (e.g. #new-starters-oct18) to form private mini-communities of mutual support. And as employees continue to get up to speed, Slack is there to help. For instance, they can search for any topic or keyword related to the work that they’re doing and find all the relevant files, conversations and subject-matter experts.

In addition to integrating with your core HR platforms, Slack integrates with a wide range of apps related to onboarding, including:

‘Slack companies reach full employee productivity 24% faster.’

IDC researchThe Business Value of Slack, 2017

Onboarding to Slack itself

It often falls to HR to show new starters how to use the company’s chosen collaboration tools. With Slack, that couldn’t be easier. Because it’s so intuitive to use, training takes minutes: use the onboarding materials that we provide, show them the channels that they’ll have access to and let them explore. From there, Slack’s own support team and Help Centre take over. We’re there for you and your people.

Theme three: Support employees more efficiently

Your HR teams can use Slack to streamline and automate the way that they support all employees, including everything from how you communicate about benefits and manage performance reviews to how you handle time tracking and holiday requests. Here are a few of the things that you can do:

Enable employee self-service

Easy-to-search channels keep everyone informed of important policies and announcements relevant to employees and contractors in each country. Instead of HR responding to countless questions about your company’s pension plan, employees can search for their own answers and filter results by channel, date range or even who posted.

Set automated reminders

With timely alerts, your employees understand your benefits schemes better and participate in them more – without wasting time chasing people.

Create HR and benefits FAQs

In HR, the same questions get asked many times over. With Slack channels, your employees know where to look for answers. Pin FAQs to the relevant channels so that people can answer their own questions.

Manage learning and development

Bringing subject-matter experts together with learning professionals and management stakeholders accelerates your L&D strategies. Designing, deploying and tracking learning programmes becomes a collaborative exercise. And Slack makes it easy to communicate with learners and track their progress.

Once you have a central place for HR knowledge sharing, it’s far easier and faster to communicate with all employees efficiently and effectively. That frees your team up to focus on more strategic tasks, such as creating that new benefits package or designing a whole new learning programme.


‘As you grow, you get more processes and more people in the value chain. Things start to slow down naturally. Part of trying to keep that start-up mentality is remaining fast with communication and delivery, and I think Slack’s really, really helped.’

Lee JonesEmployer branding and social media manager, Trivago

Theme four: Improve and track engagement

Perhaps the most important HR challenge of all is to foster engaged employees who bring their whole selves to work. Slack helps HR departments to monitor and improve employee engagement while giving workers what they want: a more connected way to work.

Here are just a few of the tactics at HR’s disposal:

Create executive AMA (‘ask me anything’) channels to invite all employees to interact with senior managers, promoting transparency and open dialogue. Transparency matters. In a survey commissioned with Kelton Research, 80% of knowledge workers said that they want to know more about how decisions are made in their organisations.

Run regular engagement surveys using Slack to invite employee participation and to report on the results. According to the Kelton survey, 91% of employees want to feel closer to their colleagues. Tracking engagement helps you to see if they’re getting that from their work.

Promote employee resource groups to encourage people with shared affinities and interests to create communities. Diversity groups, volunteering programmes and professional development clubs improve morale and employee retention. You need a way to support and enable them. Slack makes it easy for people to find each other and organise communities.

Run employee recognition programmes using Slack to promote participation and reward great performances and employees in public. Public recognition can make employees feel valued and engaged.

Today’s digital workstreams can be isolating. A shared collaboration space is a powerful way to promote the connections and relationships that lead to happier, more engaged employees.


‘Slack is such an essential tool, it’s really helped us with scaling and still feeling connected to one another across remote offices and remote teams.’

Lisa MadokoroCulture specialist, Shopify

Tracking engagement at Trivago

The talent and organisation team at Trivago, one of Germany’s fastest-growing companies, like to keep a finger on the pulse of employee sentiment. Every week, a Slack bot asks employees to respond anonymously to questions and statements such as ‘I understand how my work contributes to the organisation’ or ‘I’m happy with how frequently I’m recognised’.

The talent and organisation team review all the responses to generate topics for Trivago’s all-company meetings. The team also track Trivago’s employee net promoter scores and show screenshots of comments to managers.

‘If we communicate a large change and you see a dip in the scores, it gives you an idea of how the talent felt,’ says Anitta Krishan, formerly the company’s Organisational Foundation Lead. ‘You can actually see the change management curve happening through the results.’

Slack improves the effectiveness of the whole organisation

So far, we’ve seen how a real-time collaboration platform that’s integrated with other work software improves the HR department’s impact and efficiency. But HR leaders are also showing how Slack can improve every department’s performance. They’re working with IT and line-of-business colleagues to promote faster decision-making, transparent collaboration, simpler knowledge transfer and better teamwork across departments and distributed teams.

Employees who feel that information is shared in a clear, collaborative way are happier at work. But only 26% of workers describe their office as connected. Here are some insights into what employees want:

  • 1 in 4 say that they are dissatisfied with how information is shared at work.
  • Those who communicate via workplace messaging programs are 50% more likely to describe their office as connected (32% compared with 22% for non-users)
  • 31% of knowledge workers believe that better communication and tools would help to create an ideal collaborative work environment.

Here are some examples of how Slack improves teams’ performances:

  • Sales and marketing teams use Slack to run campaigns and track opportunities, integrating it with tools such as Salesforce, Marketo and Drift
  • Customer support teams integrate Slack with tools such as Zendesk, Groove and Twitter to make service collaborative
  • Project management teams in all departments use Slack to tie together their project software, including Trello, Asana, Google Docs, Workfront, Dropbox and dozens more
  • Developer teams use Slack to accelerate software development, integrating with tools such as GitHub, JiraCloud, Glitch and ScrumBot

In short, there isn’t a department or discipline that doesn’t benefit from reducing email chains, meetings and conference calls with a better way to collaborate.

Slack powers faster, more collaborative HR

HR leaders and Slack are in the same business: releasing the full potential of people at work. This guide showcases just a handful of the many ways that HR teams are using Slack to have a bigger impact on their businesses – and leading a wider drive to more open, collaborative work across the enterprise.

We’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you about how Slack can help you to:

  • Streamline new-starter induction
  • Accelerate recruitment and hiring
  • Support employees more efficiently
  • Improve and track engagement
  • Boost the effectiveness of the whole organisation
  • Or tackle any other collaboration or knowledge-sharing challenge that you’re facing

Our experience with some of the world’s most progressive HR leaders gives us the confidence that we can help you to do things better and do better things.

Ready when you are.

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