Salesforce is showcasing its commitment to internal training and development by directing employees of its workplace chat business, Slack, to take a week off from their regular duties to focus on upskilling, as reported by Fortune.

During that time, all meetings are cancelled and Slack employees are expected to make progress towards achieving ‘Ranger’ status on Trailhead, Salesforce’s internal learning platform, a milestone that entails approximately 40 hours of training. While earning Ranger status isn’t a requirement for the training week in and of itself, Fortune reports that employees are expected to reach it by the end of 2023.

However, Slack CTO Cal Henderson noted that “deploys, on-call rotations, and interviews” will be taking place as normal, which may lead to some prioritisation challenges among staff. Indeed, Fortune reports that according to sources, some Slack employees are ‘gaming’ the training.

The best organisations overtly signal the importance of learning and give employees permission to focus on it over operational tasks by hardwiring it into meetings, forums and appraisals.


– Paul Davies, Managing Partner, Econsultancy

Business leaders widely agree on the importance of training and development, with 79% of senior executives spoken to for Econsultancy’s New Best Practices of Effective Learning report believing that education and training are “essential” to their company’s digital transformation. However, the question of how to make sure that training and development are prioritised alongside other business objectives has long been a thorny one.

“I hear time and time again that people are too busy to learn,” says Paul Davies, Managing Partner at Econsultancy, who regularly helps marketing and digital leaders develop and deliver multichannel learning programmes. “That’s why we spend a lot of time working with organisations to make resources that are easy to find, easy to use and easy to apply.

“Learning is often seen as important but not urgent. The best organisations overtly signal the importance of learning and give employees permission to focus on it over operational tasks by hardwiring it into meetings, forums and appraisals.”

Solving for time constraints

Stefan Tornquist, VP Learning and Research at Econsultancy, explains the importance of offering relevant training in the aforementioned effective learning report:

“Executives rank time constraints as the top factor when asked about why it’s challenging to engage their employees in training. The answer is more nuanced from learners. Time is an issue cited by 43%, but their primary concerns are value and relevance. Above all, they want learning that clearly relates to their jobs today and their careers moving forward and having a range of resources that are easy to navigate. In fact, when learning programs match career goals and offer a variety of learning modes, only 19% of employees say they don’t have the time to learn.”

Though the Trailhead platform reportedly offers Slack employees a wide variety of courses, including product-focused training such as how to manage Salesforce instances, Tornquist cautions leaders not to underestimate the positive impact of live, ‘face-to-face’ training, citing “the clarity and focus offered by group learning in a time (and sometimes space) set aside from the day- to-day.”

“The time to think of new ideas is itself as valuable as the training content,” he writes, adding that, “Today, live learning is most often delivered virtually as businesses find it challenging to collect hybrid teams together and allocate sufficient time for workshops lasting more than a few hours. However, the potential for learning in face-to-face classroom settings should not be overlooked.”

Slack’s renewed focus on training and upskilling may be due in part to the advent of generative AI, which has prompted excitement and alarm among organisations concerned about its implications for human workers but keen to take advantage of its potential. Earlier this year, Slack launched its own generative AI offering: Slack GPT, a conversational AI experience embedded into Slack that offers AI-powered summaries, writing assistance, no-code workflows that make it easier to deploy AI automation, and more.

“With the explosion of machine learning and generative AI into organisational consciousness this year, most companies acknowledge their business models will change, even if they don’t know exactly how,” says Econsultancy’s Paul Davies. “Building new skills and mindsets is one key strategy to ensure companies are ready to take advantage of the new opportunities it will bring.”

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