People meeting to discuss app development.
Photo: Mapbox via Unsplash

Does your company need a Slack channel to discuss soup?

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Is it Friday yet? Today: Slack channels for yelling, sperm testing as a work benefit and the state of inequity in the workplace.

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

Let’s be casual

According to Slack’s most recent workplace communication report last week, employees are done with workplace jargon, instead embracing informal, organic chat. Enough with “let’s circle back” or “get the ball rolling.” Let’s communicate exclusively with emoji 🤩 🤯 👹.

Okay, maybe not entirely emoji. But with the rise of platforms like Slack and Teams, we’re talking to each other all the time (except when those platforms go down). Workplace communication has become much more instantaneous. You don’t stress over a Slack message in the same way you would an email. At the same time, remote work has inextricably melded our home and work personas.

Jaime DeLanghe, a senior product manager at Slack, agreed that our traditional idea of work has completely changed over the course of the pandemic.

  • “People aren’t working nine-to-five necessarily anymore, they’re definitely not wearing business casual,” she said. “They really want to just talk like people when they go to work every day.”
  • Jargon makes the workplace more inaccessible, she said. With a more casual communication style, there’s less code-switching, particularly among underrepresented groups, who “have to put in a lot of extra effort to fit into the box that we have decided corporate America should look like.”
  • According to Slack’s report, 73% of workers surveyed believe that informal work messages have helped them navigate the transition to remote and hybrid work. And 63% said it’s off-putting when colleagues use workplace jargon in messages.

One way to embrace casual communication is to create fun and quirky Slack channels. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, DeLanghe said company execs were often hesitant to add fun Slack channels to their digital headquarters, but that’s changed as leaders realize the need for informal communication.

  • Slack channels can fit into about four different categories. The first category is work channels, which are as straightforward as they sound. The second is support channels, which could be created for people with specific needs like pregnancy or parenting. The third is a mix of support and fun, which Delanghe said could look like an “Olds” channel, a channel Slack employees have created that is meant for people older than 45. Finally, there are channels meant purely for fun, like a knitting group or a pets channel.
  • Protocol asked readers about the types of Slack channels their companies use and learned of channels covering everything from plants to “Soup Slack,” which is just … a super niche food channel. One reader said they use a “Donut Dates” channel where colleagues randomly connect each other with workers they don’t usually talk to. And Delanghe said Slack has a “yelling” channel where PEOPLE TALK LIKE THIS, often about the weather.
  • Delanghe added that companies shouldn’t be afraid to create too many channels because they’re “cheap.” “They’re easy to spin up and wind down and if you and three friends are interested in something, there are probably more people interested in the topic.”

One concern with the intermingling of work and play: Power dynamics can easily seep in. Communicating with colleagues, especially those above or below you, still requires professionalism. We need to be cognizant of what’s appropriate.

  • In Slack channels, DeLanghe said employees should ensure channels are public by default so colleagues always know they have the option to join if they’d like. For a private channel that covers more personal topics, such as an ERG group or a parenting channel, companies could add what DeLanghe calls a “knock-to-enter” channel, which allows someone to ask to join before they’re added into the group.
  • “Just because you’re communicating in a way that can look or feel like social media, doesn’t mean you’re making a post on your favorite social site,” DeLanghe said.
  • DeLanghe said Slack believes in giving employees the tools to communicate the way they want. But they also impose guidelines to make sure “nothing goes off the rails.”

In sum: Let’s talk like real people at work, not corporate robots. But remember that you’re at work, not in a group chat with friends. If you have any thoughts or insights into the changing ways we communicate at work, please let us know!

— Lizzy Lawrence and Sarah Roach

Fertility benefits at work

Fertility trackers and home sperm-testing kits are the latest additions to benefits packages as more companies seek creative ways to retain employees. Tech companies have for a long time led the way when it comes to generous fertility benefits like subsidizing IVF and egg freezing. But some of the latest innovations in the space are helping companies take their offerings a step further. Fertility startups like Ava and Legacy are some of the latest on the scene. Ava makes a tech bracelet that detects when the wearer is fertile, and Legacy offers home sperm-testing and freezing kits. The move to adopt such offerings makes sense when considering the current play for talent in the tech industry. A report from Maven Clinic and Great Place to Work found that companies perceived as offering 'special and unique' benefits were twice as likely to retain their working parents.

Read the full story.


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Today’s tips & tools

Two quick ones for you today.

  1. Command + K = hyperlink. I have no idea how I didn’t know this, but I didn’t! And now you know.
  2. Shoutout to copy editor Becca Evans for sending me this one. If you hate seeing suggested tweets on your Twitter feed, you can mute these words:
  • Suggest_recycled_tweet_inline
  • Suggest_activity_tweet
  • Suggest_who_to_follow
  • Suggest_recap
  • Suggest_recycled_tweet
  • Suggest_pyle_tweet
  • suggest_ranked_timeline_tweet

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Views on equity in the workplace

Hue, a nonprofit organization focused on uplifting diverse talent in the workplace, released its annual “A State of Inequity” report on Thursday. The report examines the experiences of employees of color at work and their perspectives on equity at their respective organizations. In collaboration with The Harris Poll, Hue surveyed just under 3,000 professionals in roles ranging from HR and product development to engineering. The findings reveal many BIPOC workers believe companies still have a long way to go to create equitable environments, and HR professionals frequently have a different view on progress. Here’s what you need to know from the report:

  • 40% of underrepresented employees responded that they’ve experienced race- or ethnicity-related discrimination at work in comparison to 12% of white respondents.
  • The disparity between how employees and HR professionals view progress is clear: 82% of HR professionals said their industry “does a good job of implementing diversity-related initiatives.”
  • In comparison, 84% of people said they’ve observed a lack of “meaningful progress” toward creating a more equitable environment for employees of color in the past six months.
  • 80% of HR professionals responded that their companies have implemented diversity initiatives.

More stories from us

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Protocol spoke to some of Peloton’s former warehouse employees who were caught up in the company’s recent round of layoffs.

The fight to unionize Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama moves into its second year with no end in sight.

Two labor unions are trying to stop Amazon from building a fulfillment center in San Francisco.

Making moves

SymphonyAI appointed Jennifer Trzepacz as chief people officer. Previously, Trzepacz was an HR operating partner at Wildcat Venture Partners.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

One good listen: What does the future of workplace flexibility really look like?

Big Tech still believes in physical offices.

In an effort to deter attrition some companies are threatening to seize employees’ bonuses if they quit.

Would you offer job candidates money just to interview for a role?


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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Sunday.

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