A lot of companies assume they don’t have the time or resources to invest in internal communications. The problem, is internal comms can have a huge impact on so many facets of an organization. From 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 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 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 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, let’s look at hard data.
Internal communications clearly matter — Here’s why
Companies with effective internal communication strategies offered 47% higher returns.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 rolling out a new internal comms plan can sound like a lot of work. So, it’s tempting to say, “Well, what worked for those companies won’t work for mine.”
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. All this which will make you more money in the short and long term.
Is Slack the answer to all your internal communication 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. It meets a need by keeping digital communication in one place, removing the need for employee email, and making it easier to share files.
It works on both mobile and desktop, the notification settings help make sure messages aren’t missed. Privacy settings 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.
Is the goal to streamline employee-to-employee conversations, manager-to-employee updates and announcements? Then Slack can be an adequate starting point.
It isn’t, however, an intranet or a fully functional employee app like Blink. Slack can’t 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). The idea is that if you’re not leaving Slack, you’ll be less tempted to, well, slack.
And the interface is very easy to learn and use — especially if your employees have a passing familiarity with IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
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. Slack can’t 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 it. Here’s why:
Slack doesn’t hold up when it comes to prioritization.
Slack is great for conversation. It’s not so great for 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. That’s hugely problematic in any industry with a large population of frontline workers.
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.
Moderating Slack is hard
Having a virtual room where 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. Moderating it all to ensure that your actual internal communications needs are being met could 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 it will outgrow Slack. At that point, whoever is handling the adoption of the internal communications tools may add another tool (and then another). Suddenly, your workforce is spending more time toggling between applications than actually working.
What makes Blink different?
Blink is a one-stop productivity app that combines the best features of an employee intranet with those of tools like Slack. It’s an information-rich home base for both remote and on-site staff. 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.
That said, since we’ve already been talking about what Slack can and can’t do, let’s start by pitting Slack against Blink.
Price — Winner: Blink
Slack pricing starts at $6.67 per user while Blink’s lowest tier of pricing starts at $3.49 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 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. 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 is personal. Updates, news, polls, and social posts from their coworkers) and thus useful.
Activity tracking — Winner: Blink
Bosses can check how their teams are using Slack, but the analytics focus on channel use rather than whether people are getting what they need. With Blink, you can see what integrated tools are and aren’t 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 effectively used. Blink 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 need the people who receive them to acknowledge them.
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 personal time more because they know anything 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 is especially important during 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.
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.