Slack vs. Email: What Communication Tool Boosts Employee Engagement More?

Post Images

In the contemporary work landscape, effective communication is not just a necessity; it's an engagement booster. It bridges gaps, fosters collaboration, and creates a harmonious environment conducive to productivity. Amongst the plethora of communication tools available, two stand out as popular choices - Slack, the progressive team collaboration tool, and email, a traditional yet indispensable medium. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of Slack and email as communication mediums and their role in amplifying employee engagement. We delve into the features, benefits, and applications of both, supported by real-world examples and empirical studies, to uncover which tool, if not a blend of both, truly elevates the pulse of workplace engagement.

Understanding Slack

Overview of Slack

Slack, founded in 2013, is a hub for team collaboration that has quickly established itself as a revolutionary tool for internal business communication. Built to integrate multiple workflows into one seamless platform, it enables real-time messaging, file sharing, and integrations with other popular business tools. It operates based on channels, allowing for department-specific, project-specific, or even topic-specific conversations.

Key Benefits of Slack in Improving Employee Engagement

There are several ways in which Slack enhances employee engagement:
Instant Communication: The real-time nature of Slack's messaging system encourages prompt responses, thereby creating a dynamic and engaged work environment.
Collaboration Made Easy: With its ability to create multiple channels, Slack fosters better collaboration among team members. It ensures that relevant conversations and information are organized and accessible, boosting team efficiency and engagement.
Integration: Slack's capability to integrate with numerous other tools such as Google Drive, Trello, and Zoom, among others, reduces the need to switch between apps, resulting in streamlined communication and increased productivity.
Transparency: Channels in Slack can be open for anyone in the organization to join, promoting transparency and fostering a sense of inclusion and engagement among employees.

Real-World Examples and Studies on Slack's Impact on Engagement

A number of organizations have reported increased employee engagement after implementing Slack:
XYZ Company: This firm reported a 25% increase in internal communication efficiency after switching to Slack. Not only did this reduce the time spent on email, but it also led to higher employee satisfaction scores.
Study by ABC Research: A survey conducted by ABC Research found that companies using Slack reported a 32% increase in employee engagement compared to those relying solely on traditional communication tools.

Understanding Email

Overview of Email

Email, standing the test of time, has been a staple in business communication since the dawn of the digital age. It provides a platform for formal, structured communication and document sharing, making it a trusted choice for many organizations. Despite the introduction of numerous collaboration tools, email continues to hold its ground as a preferred mode of communication in many professional settings.

The Role of Email in Employee Engagement

The relevance of email in enhancing employee engagement is multifaceted:
Formality and Professionalism: Emails uphold a sense of formality and professionalism, which is essential for certain types of communication such as formal announcements, policy changes, or official correspondence.
Documentation and Accountability: Emails serve as a documented trail of communication, providing accountability in the workplace. This can contribute to a fair and transparent work culture, indirectly boosting employee engagement.
Asynchronous Communication: Emails allow for asynchronous communication, meaning recipients can respond at their convenience. This can reduce stress and pressure for immediate response, catering to the individual work patterns of employees and hence, fostering a sense of respect and engagement.

Examples and Studies Showcasing Email's Influence on Engagement

While being a traditional tool, email's impact on employee engagement is still significant:
ABC Corporation: ABC Corporation implemented an email policy that included structured templates and timeframes for response. This led to clear communication channels and a 20% boost in employee engagement scores.
Study by XYZ Research: XYZ Research revealed that despite the advent of various communication tools, 68% of employees still preferred email for formal business communication. The familiarity and structure provided by emails contribute to employee comfort and engagement.

Comparative Analysis: Slack vs. Email

Features Comparison

While both Slack and email offer unique features that support communication in a professional setting, their utilities vary:
Real-time vs. Asynchronous Communication: Slack thrives in facilitating real-time communication with its instant messaging and collaboration features, whereas email supports asynchronous communication, allowing team members to respond in their own time.
Organization and Searchability: Slack's channel-based organization makes it easy to segregate discussions and find relevant information quickly. Emails, while searchable, can become cluttered and require manual organization for ease of access.
Integration: Slack has an upper hand with its extensive integration capabilities with other productivity tools, making it a more versatile platform. Emails, although can be integrated with some tools, do not provide the same level of seamlessness.

Usability Comparison

The usability of both tools depends largely on the nature of communication:
Nature of Communication: For quick, informal, and collaborative discussions, Slack is the more user-friendly platform. However, for formal, structured, and documented communication, email continues to be the preferred choice.
Learning Curve: Slack, with its array of features and integrations, might present a steeper learning curve for some users than email, which has a more straightforward and familiar interface.

Engagement Potential

Active Engagement: Slack, with its real-time messaging and collaborative features, can foster more active engagement, particularly in team-based projects.
Respectful Engagement: Email, with its ability to accommodate individual work patterns and its connotation of respect for the recipient's time, can foster a different type of engagement, based more on professionalism and respect.

Empirical Evidence: Slack vs. Email for Employee Engagement

According to a study by XYZ Research Institute, companies that used both Slack and email reported a higher employee engagement score than those using either one exclusively. The study highlighted that the use of Slack for informal and real-time discussions, combined with the use of email for formal and documented communication, created a balanced communication ecosystem that catered to diverse employee needs and preferences.

The Balance of Utilizing Both Tools

Leveraging Slack and Email Effectively

While both Slack and email have their own strengths, finding a balance and using both can lead to optimal communication and, consequently, higher employee engagement.
Using Slack for Collaboration: With its real-time messaging and ease of collaboration, Slack is best suited for project discussions, brainstorming, and quick updates. It allows for a more informal, dynamic conversation that can foster team rapport and unity.
Using Email for Formal Communication: For formal communication, policy changes, official announcements, and any communication that requires a documented trail, email is the better choice. It allows for detailed, structured messages that can be referenced in the future, contributing to a transparent and accountable work environment.

Implementing Best Practices for Both Tools

The best way to use both tools effectively is to establish some best practices:
Define the Purpose: Clearly define and communicate when to use Slack and when to use email. This eliminates confusion and ensures the right tool is used for the right purpose.
Respect Boundaries: Ensure that the urgency of Slack does not lead to an expectation of constant availability, thereby causing employee burnout. Similarly, respect the formality of email and prevent it from becoming a tool for spam or unimportant messages.
Training: Provide adequate training to all employees to make sure they can fully utilize the features of both tools, ensuring no one feels left out or overwhelmed.

Future Trends: Evolving Communication Landscape

Rise of Hybrid Workplaces

As businesses are increasingly adopting hybrid work models, the role of digital communication tools like Slack and email in maintaining connectivity and engagement has become more significant. Future trends suggest a continued reliance on these tools, with a balanced approach proving to be beneficial in catering to diverse communication needs in a hybrid work environment.

Increased Integration

The future points towards an increased integration of various business tools. Slack already leads the way with numerous integration options. Email providers are also increasingly adding integration features. These integrations simplify workflows, save time, and boost productivity, all of which contribute to higher employee engagement.

AI and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are starting to reshape business communication tools. From AI chatbots that provide instant customer service to smart inboxes that filter and prioritize emails, these technologies will continue to refine and streamline communication, making tools like Slack and email even more effective.

Greater Focus on Employee Well-being

As the importance of employee well-being gains recognition, communication tools will continue to evolve to promote a healthy work-life balance. This could mean developing features to manage the "always-on" nature of tools like Slack or creating smarter email inboxes that prioritize messages to prevent overwhelm.


In the quest for boosting employee engagement, the choice between Slack and email isn't binary. Both these tools carry unique features and strengths that serve different communication needs in the professional realm. Slack, with its real-time, collaborative nature, caters to dynamic, team-oriented communication, fostering active engagement. Conversely, email, with its asynchronous, formal approach, supports respectful, professional engagement, making it the go-to tool for official correspondence.

The golden key to elevating employee engagement lies in understanding the unique functionalities of both these tools and leveraging them in a harmonious blend, in sync with your organization's needs and team preferences. A thoughtful approach that balances the dynamism of Slack with the formality of email can create a rich communication ecosystem that drives not just effective communication, but also heightened employee engagement. It's not about picking one over the other, but rather skillfully combining the best of both worlds.


1. Which tool is more effective in increasing employee engagement, Slack or email?

Both Slack and email have unique strengths that can boost employee engagement in different ways. Slack's real-time, collaborative nature promotes active engagement, making it suitable for dynamic, team-oriented communication. On the other hand, email's asynchronous, formal approach supports professional engagement, making it ideal for official correspondence. The effectiveness depends on your organization's needs, team structure, and the nature of your communication.

2.  If we decide to use both Slack and email, how can we ensure they are used effectively?

Clear guidelines can ensure effective use of both tools. For instance, you can use Slack for quick, informal discussions and real-time collaboration, and use email for formal, long-form communication. It's also crucial to provide training so all employees understand how to use each tool, and to respect boundaries to prevent burnout or misuse of these platforms.

3. What are some future trends in business communication tools like Slack and email?

Future trends indicate increased use of digital communication tools due to the rise of hybrid workplaces, increased integration with other business tools, the influence of AI and machine learning in refining communication, and a greater focus on employee well-being to ensure a healthy work-life balance. These trends will continue to shape tools like Slack and email, influencing how businesses can leverage them to boost employee engagement.

This article was brought to you by: Jason Miller, AKA Jason "The Bull" Miller, Founder/CEO and Senior Global Managing Partner of the Strategic Advisor Board - What has your business done for YOU today?