Research digested: The State of Work, Slack

Front cover of The State of Work report by Slack

A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals.

Why read this report?

Slack has used its research data in an interesting way, looking at responses to questions based on whether a worker is aligned or unaligned with the values, purpose and strategy of their business. The research shows that aligned workers are far more engaged with the business. This is a useful report if you are looking to get buy-in for more collaborative ways of working.

About the research

Slack’s State of Work report is based on responses from 17,000 knowledge workers across 10 countries and 40 industry sectors. Responses were gathered from employees at all levels within the organisation.

Standout stats

The report distinguishes between aligned and non-aligned workers. An aligned worker is one who agrees with this statement: “I feel aligned with my company’s vision, values and operating principles.” A non-aligned worker doesn’t feel this alignment.

The research shows that the vast majority of knowledge workers (69%) say they are “some-what aligned,” “somewhat unaligned” or “agnostic”. Only 29% of employees say they are strongly aligned.

Why does this matter? Here are three stats that help explain why . . .

  • Because 75% of aligned workers feel empowered to make strategic decisions vs 22% of unaligned workers
  • Because 76% of aligned workers say their company has the tools and systems in place to adapt quickly to industry changes vs 19% of unaligned workers
  • Because 90% of aligned workers understand what they need to do in their role to be successful vs 43% of unaligned workers

Put simply, aligned workers know what they need to do to succeed in their role and how that fits with their organisation’s goals. And this helps organisations adapt to change quickly.

The research also lifts the lid on what makes for useful communication, which is a key element for alignment. Employees feel most aligned when communicating hourly (63%) and least aligned when communicating less than once per day (41%). They prefer three to four meetings per day and say monthly communication about company goals is best. Collaboration tools are seen as the best way to communicate company strategy versus video, meetings, blogs, the intranet and email. This is an interesting point for L&D. Are L&D teams communicating using employees’ favoured communication channels?

Final word

The main thrust of this report is that good communication can drive employee alignment with organisational purpose, values and strategy. When asked what would make them feel more aligned, employees say they would like greater transparency, clearer documentation of responsibilities, more cross-team collaboration and open access to leadership. As the report authors suggest, these are basic needs.

It’s also worth noting that collaboration tools are the most preferred method for sharing information. Learning teams would do well to think about how they can harness such tools to build engagement and better support employees.