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

Against 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 guide all this corporate change, the HR discipline and department itself is changing just as dramatically:

  • The battle for talent has never been more fierce.
  • A multigenerational workforce is changing the shape of work.
  • New regulations require new approaches to recruiting, 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 analyzing how:

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

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

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

There’s a better way for HR to work

HR departments in 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, have 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 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 recognize 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, organized 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 HR works with the entire company
    Including better onboarding, communication, training, employee feedback management, performance reviews, raises, promotions, moves and job changes.
  • Work within the HR department
    Integrating with core HR software to speed up decision-making, centralize 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 organization
    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 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 favorite HR and productivity tools. Our close partnerships and deep integrations with software like 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
  • Organize notifications and updates

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

Theme 1: Accelerate recruiting and hiring

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

Simplify job posting

Before an open req is posted, create a private channel to discuss scope, salary band, title, and so on between hiring managers, department leads and recruiters. Then collaborate on the final job description and, when it’s good 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 through the entire process

After a role is posted, a lot of HR teams create additional private channels: One is for the hiring manager, HR business partner, recruiter and sourcer to share standout résumés, organize interviews and finalize offers. Since your applicant tracking system integrates with Slack, you get automated updates in the channel at key milestones—like when the candidate moves forward 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 résumés and onsite schedules, pin the job description, and corral feedback post-interview.

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


Theme 2: Streamline new-hire onboarding

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

Instead of showing up on the first day of work to inbox zero, followed by a torrent of forwarded emails, new hires start exploring channels with conversations relevant to their role. For example, a #welcome channel in Slack gives them a place to ask questions, meet other new hires 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 new-hire cohort (e.g., #new-hires-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 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 onboarding-related apps, 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 hires 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 we provide, show them the channels they’ll have access to, and let them explore. From there, Slack’s own support team and Help Center takes over. We’re there for you and your people.

Theme 3: Support employees more efficiently

Your HR teams can use Slack to streamline and automate the way they support all employees, including everything from how you communicate benefits and manage performance reviews to how you handle time tracking and vacation requests. Here are a few of the things 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 fielding countless questions about your company’s medical 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 programs 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 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 programs 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 to focus on more strategic tasks, like creating new benefits plans or designing a whole new learning program.


“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 startup 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 4: 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 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 execs, promoting transparency and open dialogue. Transparency matters. In a survey commissioned with Kelton Research, 80% of knowledge workers said they want to know more about how decisions are made in their organizations.

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 colleagues. Tracking engagement helps you see if they’re getting that from their work.

Promote employee resource groups encouraging people with shared affinities and interests to create communities. Diversity groups, volunteer programs 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 organize communities.

Run employee recognition programs using Slack to promote participation and reward great performances and employees in public. Public recognition makes 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 Organization team at Trivago, one of Germany’s fastest-growing companies, likes 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 organization” or “I’m happy with how frequently I’m recognized.”

The Talent and Organization team reviews all the responses to generate topics for the company’s all-hands meetings. The team also tracks Trivago’s employee Net Promoter Scores and shows 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 organizational foundation lead. “You can actually see the change management curve happening through the results.”

Slack improves the effectiveness of the whole organization

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. Your employees want this:

  • 1 in 4 say 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 create an ideal collaborative work environment

A few examples:

  • Sales and marketing teams use Slack to run campaigns and track opportunities, integrating it with tools like Salesforce, Marketo and Drift
  • Customer support teams integrate Slack with tools like 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 like 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 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:

  • Streamline new-hire onboarding
  • Accelerate recruiting and hiring
  • Support employees more efficiently
  • Improve and track engagement
  • Boost the effectiveness of the whole organization
  • Or tackle any other collaboration or knowledge-sharing challenge you’re facing

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

Ready when you are.

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