How to use Slack to onboard and train employees

Employers gain a unique opportunity to influence how their newly hired team member’s habits during onboarding. Training new employees to follow internal protocols during those first few critical hours will have a positive effect on productivity. With Slack becoming the operating system of the modern workplace, it makes sense that this platform should play a key role in onboarding and training. There are a number of opportunities to leverage Slack in this capacity, some with its native functionality, and some with a third-party tool like Obie.

Onboarding is a critical time

When new employees are onboarded, they have a lot of questions. It’s likely that the answers to those questions exist somewhere in the organization, but they might not know where to look. So what do those new employees do? They ask other team members those questions instead. Occasional questions are tolerable – even encouraged – but that’s not the common pattern in a rapidly scaling organization with numerous employees – you start seeing high volumes of repeated questions. Too many repeated questions can be a problem.

Frequently asked questions add up in Slack

In modern workplaces, the common questions that arise during the onboarding tend to be asked in virtual channels like Slack. Frequently asked questions can cause a lot of distraction particularly in public channels where multiple people are subject to the noise from unnecessary notification messages or just by passively keeping an eye on a channel. Recognizing that Slack tends to accumulate FAQs you can take the opportunity to recognize that it is the preferred support channel and optimize it for this use-case.

Set a documentation-first expectation upfront

The default action for all questions asked internally should be to check the documentation, first. There always going to be a few that slip through the cracks, and that’s ok. But for the most part, people should be gently nudged toward the knowledge base whenever they ask questions. Ideally, in those instances where questions are asked and answers are given, the answerer will provide a link to the knowledge base in Slack in lieu of a written answer so that they can be reminded that the answer did exist in the documentation and hopefully they’ll check there first next time.

Connect your wiki to Slack

Having a Slack wiki integration is a powerful way to put knowledge in the places where questions are asked by newly onboarded employees. Most modern wikis have at least some basic integration with Slack including search or sharing. Obie currently has the deepest Slack wiki integration available with full search, capture, editing and sharing functionality – all without leaving Slack. It also has an AI-powered Slack bot that senses common questions in the flow of conversations and returns relevant results privately to the support seeker.

DM Obie FAQ in Slack
Obie’s intelligent Slack bot in action

Create a dedicated #new-hires or #onboarding channel

Having employees know that there is a dedicated channel for onboarding questions or general training can be a helpful way to contain unwanted noise from polluting the rest of the Slack workspace.

Use this channel to collate knowledge gaps and convert those into documentation when a backlog is created. You can manually count and capture knowledge gaps with a periodic review of the activity in the channel. Or you can use a tool like Obie to do that work for you.

Obie Dashboard and Analytics

Use Slackbot to automate reminders

Slack has some native tools for automating parts of the onboarding process for new hires. You can:

  • Schedule messages and check-ins
  • Distribute surveys and ask for questions and feedback
  • Remind employees about onboarding checklist items

These tools can help ensure that new employees treated in a more personalized manner and removes the need for human intervention for these simple tasks.

Explore Slack’s third party ecosystem

Explore the Slack App Directory to find third-party integrations, like Obie, that enable the smoothest onboarding experience for your organization. Developers have explored many of the common pains encountered by organizations that are heavy Slack users.