Introduction to HR Partner & Slack Integration
If your company uses Slack for team communications, then you will be excited to hear that we now have a custom Bot for Slack that will help to you get information out of HR Partner all without having to leave your Slack application or logging in to HR Partner. Best of all, you can ask the bot plain English questions, and it will use AI (artificial intelligence) to interpret and answer your queries.
What is Slack?
Slack is a modern communication tool for organisations that are spread over a wide location. It is essentially a cross between a chat room and email, and is becoming hugely popular due to it's great interface and ability to keep busy teams up to date with what is happening across the whole company. We use Slack here at HR Partner and love it, and so do a lot of our customers.
Find out more about Slack at www.slack.com
What is a bot?
A 'bot' is essentially a robot user that can participate in a Slack channel like a human user does. Bots are normally designed to automate tasks for you, or to integrate different systems together. For example, there are Slack bots that can obtain news or weather information for you when asked, or they can send information to another app or server when you ask them to.
Bots are the first steps into the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is an exciting field in itself. Nothing to be afraid of - this isn't an impeding Skynet type scenario, but rather a way to enhance productivity by outsourcing rote tasks to a machine to do.
What can the HR Partner bot do?
A sample of things you can ask the HR Partner bot are:
- Who is away from the office today
- Fetch an employee's contact details
- See what employee reminders are overdue
and much more ( see below for a list of suggested questions you can ask). We are constantly improving our bot's intelligence and range of question or tasks that it can respond to, so please keep checking back here regularly.
Installing The Bot
Below is a step by step guide on how you can install the HR Partner bot and begin using it within minutes. Please note that the instructions below assume that:
- You already have a Slack team set up and running, and are logged into your team that you wish to add the bot to
- You already have an HR Partner company set up (trial or paid) and are logged into the company you want to add the bot to
If you need any more information on setting up a Slack team, please visit www.slack.com. It does not matter if you have more than one Slack team. You can choose which one of those teams you wish to install the bot into.
It is a two step process to add your bot to HR Partner. You have to install the bot first, then you need to authenticate your HR Partner users against the bot. This ensure the permissions and departmental restrictions are applied to your Slack users who will be making queries using the bot. Privacy and security of your HR data is paramount to us, and we want to ensure that even when using a bot to get information.
You only have to install the bot into your team once. However, after you install it the first time, ALL of your team member who want to use the bot will have to individually go through the 'Linking HR Partner Users To Slack' steps below.
Adding the bot to HR Partner
To add your bot to HR Partner, simply go to your Company Setup screen using the left hand menu. (Note: You will have to have admin permissions to do this, so if you do not see the menu, please ask the creator of your HR Partner company to either give you the permissions, or else perform this task themselves).
Once in the Company Setup screen, scroll right down to the bottom of the screen, and there you will see a section about our Slack integration.
Click on the ' Add to Slack' button in this section. This will take you to Slack's site where you will be asked to choose the Slack team that you wish to add the bot to (if you have more than one team). (Important: You should already be logged into Slack, if you aren't, you will be asked to log into Slack first before you are taken to this team screen).
You will then be further asked to Authorise the bot on your team, just to be sure.
When you complete this step, you should see a blank screen with a short success message. You can now safely close this browser window down, and go back to HR Partner.
Within Slack, you should also get a DM (direct message) notification from @hrbot to let you know that she is ready to rock!
Congratulations! Your bot is now installed. But wait - before you start inviting the bot to channels and asking her questions, you need each of your HR Partner admin users (including yourself) to associate your HR Partner user login with your Slack login. See below for how to do this.
Linking HR Partner users to Slack
Now that your bot is installed, you are nearly ready to go, but there is one problem. You see, our bot does not know which of your Slack users are the equivalent users in HR Partner, and vice versa. Users can have different usernames (and email addresses) on either system. A lot of people like to use nicknames in Slack, so trying to automatically link a Slack user to HR Partner is nearly impossible. This is why you need to perform this linking step manually. Don't worry, you only have to do this step once, and then our bot will remember the link forever.
This is an important step because within HR Partner, you can restrict users to seeing only employees within certain departments, as well as restricting them from certain HR Partner modules, and we want to ensure that this security and privacy is carried across to their bot queries. You do not want someone to be able to look at employee information that they have no access rights to, do you?
Before we carry on, we have to ensure that each user who wants to perform this linking step does the following:
- Ensure that they are logged into Slack with their preferred username, and signed onto the company with the HR Partner bot installed
- Ensure that they are signed into HR Partner with their usual HR Partner username.
Once they do this, then they can click on their name in the top left of HR Partner, under their profile picture, and choose ' Profile' :
Scroll right down to the bottom of the Profile page, and you will see a section talking about Slack:
Click on the ' Sign in with Slack' button. Once again, you will see the Slack screen on which you can choose the team that you are working in:
And when completed, you will be taken back to HR Partner with a success message.
Congratulations! Your users are now linked in Slack and in HR Partner and you can begin making queries.
How Do I Use The HR Partner Bot?
Ok, now that everything is installed, and you have linked your users. You are ready to begin using the bot to tap into your information in HR Partner. Please note that now you don't even have to have your HR Partner system open in a browser tab. You can perform queries and get information ALL within Slack only.
Inviting the bot to a channel
The best way to utilise our HR Partner bot, is to invite her into a Slack #channel. This is completely dependent on how you have your Slack team set up, and your company culture. If you want added security for your HR team, you may want to create a private #hr channel for only your HR team and invite the bot to that channel, so that queries and conversations are kept hidden from the rest of your organisation. Or, if you are not worried about privacy, then you can simply invite your bot into your #general channel where everyone can see the query results. (Note: Only users who have authorised against HR Partner can make queries - others can only see results of queries but cannot make new queries).
To invite a bot to a channel, you simply click on that channel name within slack (on the left hand menu bar), then issue the /invite command, e.g.:
Please note that the default name for our HR Partner bot is @hrbot. You can change the bot name within Slack if you like.
Direct message (DM) the bot
If you wanted to keep bot conversations completely private between yourself and the bot, then you do not need to invite her into a public or private channel at all. You can just direct message (DM) her within Slack, and your queries, and her answers will all be kept hidden from other Slack users and only visible to you.
To DM the bot, simply click on @hrbot on the left hand menu in Slack, where she will appear under 'Direct Messages' along with your other team members:
Then you can conduct private conversations with your bot.
Asking the bot questions
Ok, now you are ready to ask your bot some questions. To do so, you have to mention the bot in your message somewhere by using @hrbot in your question. Questions can be in plain English. For example, to get a list of your employees who are currently away on leave, you can ask the following:
@hrbot who is away?
And you should see results like the following, if you have employees who have an absence entry in HR Partner which encompasses today's date:
Isn't that neat? Our bot will tell you how many people are away, give you their names, and tell you what type of leave they are on. Full security is also in play, so you will only see employees in the departments that you have access to. Other employees in other departments that you cannot normally see are not shown.
Our bot has a level of artificial intelligent built in. That means that she will try and learn from your questions, and interpret them as best she can. You don't have to phrase your question exactly as we did above. For instance, ALL of the following questions will give you the same result as above:
@hrbot who is on vacation? list all employees on holiday @hrbot @hrbot give me all employees on holiday
Don't worry, if our bot cannot understand your question, she will let you know, and you can try rephrasing it to try again.
You can even ask the bot questions specifically about a certain employee by mentioning them by name, e.g.:
What can you ask our bot?
We are constantly building out the functionality and power of our bot. At this point in time, here is a list of things that you can ask our bot to do:
- Check if an employee is in the office - "Is John Smith in the office today?"
- Get an employee's age - "How old is John Smith?"
- Get an employee's date of birth - "What is John Smith date of birth?"
- Get an employee's leave balances - "What is the leave balance for John Smith?"
- See when an employee is back from holidays - "When is John Smith back from leave?"
- Get a short employee profile - "Show me John Smith contact details"
- List all employees away from the office - "Who is away?"
- List all employee birthdays within the coming weeks - "List of staff birthdays"
- Show your reminders due today - "Any reminders today?"
- Show your overdue reminders - "List overdue reminders"
Soon you will be able to list employees in certain departments or locations, as well as see who has applied for leave and approve/reject them directly from within Slack too!
Stuck? Need more help? Not sure how to get the bot to do something?
Don't panic - simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can assist. This also includes if you have any suggestions for tasks that you would like our bot to carry out for you. We love hearing how you use @hrbot, and look forward to hearing from you.