A lot of companies assume they don’t have the time or resources to invest in internal communications. The problem with that way of thinking is internal comms can have a huge impact on so many facets of an organization, from overall productivity to employee satisfaction and the rate of employee turnover. Sure, it’s easy to ignore internal comms — for a period of time. Focusing on external concerns above all else can work, until it doesn’t.
After a while, small communications issues begin getting in the way of success and they can grow into the kind of big catastrophic problems that feel unsolvable. Gradual breakdowns can threaten an entire company’s continued existence.
Avoiding this fate means investing in an internal communications strategy. That strategy will probably look a little different for every business, but the core principles of it will always be the same: shared vision, streamlined collaboration, authentic dialog, and employee engagement.
Internal communications are as critical to every organization’s long-term success as external communications, but they’re often undervalued because people don’t understand the ROI. So, before we take a look at the deeper benefits of strong internal comms (and whether Slack can solve your communication problems), let’s look at hard data.
To start: The Holmes Report found that companies with effective internal communication strategies offered their shareholders 47% higher returns.
Internal Communications Clearly Matter — Here’s Why
That 47% difference in profitability is a big deal, but it doesn’t tell us a lot about why investing in internal communications tools can have such a profound impact. Creating and then rolling out a new internal comms plan can sound like a lot of work, so you may be tempted to say, “Well, what worked for those companies won’t necessarily work for mine.”
It’s true that you might not see that big of a jump in your profits, but you may see dividends in the form of lower employee turnover, more productivity, fewer mistakes, and a happier workforce that regularly goes above and beyond for your organization — all of which will both save and make you more money in the short and long term.
Is Slack the Answer to All of Your Internal Comms Problems?
First, let’s look at what Slack is and isn’t.
Slack is a real-time, searchable, channel-based messaging and file sharing tool that keeps a record of conversations between people and teams. It definitely meets a need by keeping digital communication in one place, removing the need for employee email, and making it easier to share files quickly. It works on both mobile and desktop, the notification settings help make sure very few messages are missed, and it’s easy to use. There are some privacy settings that will keep prying eyes out of sensitive channels, and the search function is relatively powerful, so you don’t have to worry about conversations getting lost.
Overall, when the goal is to streamline employee-to-employee conversations, manager-to-employee updates and announcements, intrateam conversations, and discussions between teams, Slack can be an adequate starting point.
It isn’t, however, an employee intranet or a fully functional employee app like Blink. Slack can’t replace an intranet or employee app or serve as the backbone of an internal communications strategy, even though it’s a great discussion and collaboration tool.
Why People Love Slack
The people who love Slack tend to talk up its usefulness as a productivity tool (versus a collaboration tool) when it’s integrated with other enterprise and productivity applications. The idea is that if you’re not leaving Slack, you’ll be less tempted to, well, slack.
And the Slack interface is very easy to learn and use — especially if your employees have a passing familiarity with IRC (Internet Relay Chat), the time it takes to learn the app is minimal.
Why People Hate Slack
The folks who don’t love Slack tend to be the ones who don’t like the chaos. In bigger companies, there will be a lot going on in any one employee’s channels and notifications are often anything but time sensitive. Checking Slack can feel like an interruption (rather than part of the flow within a worker’s day), and having to figure out which updates are most important is going to get in the way of business productivity.
Sometimes the only way to catch up is to read through an entire backlog or risk missing some crucial piece of shared information that didn’t make it into a notification because no one tagged you. Slack is also missing a way to meaningfully organize the important messages you do see so you can return to them later. In other words, Slack is quite noisy.
The Bottom Line: Slack Isn’t Enough
Unless your entire internal communications strategy boils down to ‘communicate more,’ Slack isn’t a tool that can serve as your strategy’s backbone. Here’s why:
Slack doesn’t hold up when it comes to prioritization.
Slack is great for conversation, but not so great for sharing important announcements, vital project data, calendars, shift updates, or any other crucial business updates. There isn’t a clear sense of direction (or sometimes even purpose) for the conversation. This is going to be hugely problematic in any industry with a large population of frontline workers who need to receive and assimilate new information quickly before focusing on the day’s tasks.
It’s too easy to disengage with Slack.
Because there is so much that employees don’t do with Slack, you can’t assume that your workforce will be as engaged with the platform as you’d like them to be. Even if you’re sure that every employee is checking Slack, you can’t be sure that they are checking every channel — and in larger organizations, there can be a lot of channels. It’s definitely a noisy platform, and that will turn some users off.
Moderating Slack is hard.
Having a virtual room where widely dispersed employees can congregate and collaborate is good, but when that room starts spawning infinite offshoots (channels) there’s a problem. Slack allows pretty much anyone to message almost anyone else — including the entire company — and moderating it all to ensure that your actual internal communications needs are being met could easily become a full-time job.
But let’s say, for argument's sake, that you do roll out Slack as an internal comms solution. As your company grows, chances are that it will outgrow Slack, and at that point whoever is handling the adoption of the internal communications tools may add another tool and then another to compensate. Suddenly your workforce is spending more time toggling between applications than actually working.
What Makes Blink Different
Simply put, Blink is a one-stop productivity app that combines the best features of an employee intranet with those of tools like Slack and other communication, HR, and data storage applications. It’s an information-rich home base for both remote and on-site staff, and a way for managers to ensure employees never miss another message.
Blink is also less expensive in the long run, even when you’re comparing it to tools that are cheaper on paper. That’s because Blink can do so much more, so to really calculate the cost you need to compare it to multiple platforms and applications — Slack being just one of them.
That said, since we’ve already been talking about what Slack can and can’t do, let’s start by pitting Slack against Blink and seeing which of the two comes out on top in a few key areas.
Price — Winner: Blink
Both platforms have a free option, so it might look like there’s no clear winner in this category, but Blink’s free tier is robust, with unlimited chats, feed posts, and search plus 5GB storage per team. Slack pricing starts at $6.67 per user while Blink’s lowest tier of pricing starts at $1.87 per user.
Support — Winner: Blink
Both platforms offer phone and email support, but only Blink has live support and training.
Onboarding — Winner: Blink
You can store onboarding materials directly in the company Hub, send outstanding HR tasks directly to new employees, or you can use Zapier zaps to automate most of the onboarding process.
User Friendliness — Winner: Draw
Employees may be comfortable with Slack because it’s familiar, but because the content employees will see in Blink is so targeted, it’s extremely intuitive.
Process Optimization — Winner: Blink
One of the easiest ways to enhance the employee experience is to make sure that each member of your team knows what is expected of them and has the tools to do what they were hired to do. Blink keeps employees focused whereas Slack can erode that focus.
Personalization — Winner: Blink
Slack is a place where people can speak their minds but that doesn’t make the experience a personal one. In a Blink feed, what employees see really is personal (like updates from the applications they actually use, news, polls, and social posts from their coworkers) and thus useful.
Activity Tracking — Winner: Blink
Bosses can monitor how their teams are using Slack, but the analytics are more focused on channel use than on whether people are getting what they need out of it. With Blink, you can see what integrated tools are and aren’t being used, if there are unread messages or unopened files in a feed, whether employees are using the system to ask questions or give feedback, and above all, whether your internal communications are being used effectively. Blink actually provides stats for every post in every feed so you can be sure information is getting where it needs to go.
Targeting — Winner: Blink
As noted above, Slack’s notification system can be a bit clunky and if someone misses a message, getting caught up can be hard. But in Blink, there are priority posts that require the people who receive them to acknowledge them — reducing frustration all around.
Work-Life Balance - Winner: Blink
Some employers expect to have an always-on workforce and Slack doesn’t do much to help balance the scales. Blink helps employees enjoy their personal time more because they know that when they fire it up, anything important they’ve missed will be front and center. There’s no need to check in when you ought to be checking out.
If you think your company doesn’t need to worry about internal comms yet because you’re too small, think again. Establishing effective communication strategies may be even more important right now to ensure you’re doing everything right during the high-stakes periods of fast growth. And if you have a high percentage of remote or frontline employees, it’s especially vital to have great comms tools so people stay engaged.
Still wondering whether your organization should be using Slack? If you love its chat features, then why not keep it and let it do what it does best? You can even use Zapier to link Blink and Slack because like a lot of other applications with limited functionality, Slack is better with Blink.
Blink is an internal communications tool that’s better than a company intranet because it can do everything an intranet can do plus a lot more. Try it out today! Request a demo to get started.