Viva: The New Employee Experience Platform from Microsoft

Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s latest solution.


Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, a new evolution was happening with digital tools that was shaping the future of digital work. After the outbreak, that future was suddenly a reality as thousands of companies worldwide moved to remote or hybrid work to stop the spread of COVID-19.


At JourneyTEAM, we’ve talked to a number of our clients about how they’re managing this new digital workforce. Many of them have easily navigated the difficulties of COVID-19 with the help of Microsoft tools, specifically Microsoft 365. Microsoft Teams is one of the only solutions on the market that allows its users to communicate, collaborate, and view business workflows on a single, secure platform with a seamless user experience. Late last year, the number of Teams users grew to 115 million with Microsoft 365 generating over 30 billion collaboration minutes in a single day.


While keeping everyone connected during the craziness of this pandemic is a great first step, it’s now time to do more. With so many people working remotely, many employees are missing the connection, empowerment, and sense of community that they felt in the office—they’re missing the employee experience.



According to a 2019 Gartner study, most organizations are spending close to $3,000 per employee on employee experience. Most of this money is spent on things like on-boarding, office design, and other features all designed to give employees a great workplace experience. However, while organizations may implement these tools as a way to improve the employee experience, oftentimes these tools have the opposite effect. They disrupt workflows, are difficult to use, and leave employees feeling frustrated.


Now more than ever, it’s important to implement digital tools that empower employees and enrich their experience. That’s where Viva, the latest employee experience platform (EXP) from Microsoft, comes in.


Meet Microsoft Viva


Microsoft Viva is the first ever EXP platform created for the digital era. This incredible new solution brings together learning, resources, insights, knowledge, and communication to a single platform where employees, teams, and leadership are emboldened to do and be their best whether they’re in the office or working remotely. Essentially, Viva is similar to an intranet in the sense that it gathers all the important parts of a business into a single, accessible location. It was designed to help both businesses and employees adjust to this new normal of working during a pandemic.


Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, stated: “We need to stop thinking about work as a place, and start thinking about how to maintain culture, connect employees, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid world.” Microsoft is optimistic that Viva will help with this.

The latest solution in the Microsoft 365 technology stack is integrated into Teams and additional Microsoft 365 applications, providing users with fast, easy access to the new tool.


Viva is split into four different modules: Connections, Insights, Learning, and Topics, and additional modules are already being created.



Viva Connections


A recent survey of 3,000 employees across the US, UK, and Australia showed that ⅓ of these employees reported feeling disconnected from their company’s culture and their fellow colleagues since the outbreak of COVID-19. We’re unable to replace the feelings of camaraderie and friendship that we once felt in meetings, town halls, and company events and outings while working remotely. While employees may miss meeting face-to-face with their colleagues, the struggle is even harder for new-hires. These individuals may have never set foot in the office or met anyone in-person, leaving them feeling isolated and disconnected.

Built on SharePoint technology, Connections is designed to bring people together. It acts as a gateway to your digital workplace, and provides everything you need for a well-branded and organized employee destination. From a leadership aspect, managers and executives can connect with employees through town hall meetings or news posts. Employees will have fast and easy access to important information like company benefits and policies. They can even join additional communities with a few clicks thanks to Viva’s Yammer integration.

Whether you’re a new-hire or a long-time employee, Viva provides all the important and helpful content you need in a personalized dashboard. You can even customize content and information for specific job roles, such as leadership or front-line workers, giving employees faster access to the information they need.

Insights

Another big side effect of this pandemic is burn out. In fact, one survey found that 58% of employees are suffering from burnout, which is up from the 45% reported at the start of the pandemic. These feelings are caused by a number of factors (work-life balance, heavy workload, lack of communication or support, etc.), but it’s now more important than ever to protect employees’ personal time. How do we do that? Save them time at work.


With Viva Insights, organizations are provided with secure, actionable insights that significantly increases productivity. Insights, recommended actions, and personal well-being experiences are all gathered from MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics and sent directly into a Microsoft Team’s workflow.

Insights are provided for individuals, managers, and leadership:


  • Individuals: These insights help colleagues stay in contact with each other, and protect their personal time.


  • Managers: For managers, Viva Insights provides valuable data and information to build successful, happy teams. For example, managers are able to see if anyone on the team is struggling with burnout and what changes need to be made to combat it such as redefining priorities or redistributing tasks.


  • Leaders: To help company leaders set their employees up for success, Insights provides valuable information about work trends and patterns such as space planning or well-being opportunities. These insights can also be used to ensure that teams are feeling connected and working well together despite being in a remote or hybrid environment.



All of these valuable insights are protected by de-identification, aggregation, and differential privacy to ensure complete security, and ensures that insights are only visible to certain individuals. For managers or leaders however, these insights are de-identified or aggregated to keep data private.

Learning

One thing that most employees are interested in is learning. In fact, one report from LinkedIn saw that 94% of employees would continue working with a company if they were given more resources or support for additional learning or development. With Viva Learning, learning becomes a daily part of an employee’s job.


Within Learning, employees have access to a central dashboard that’s powered by AI which provides content recommendations to help employees continue to learn and grow. Employees are given access to everything from new training courses to helpful content. Currently, Microsoft is partnered with Pluralsight, edX, Skillsoft, Cornerstone, SAP SuccessFactors, and OnDemand with more planned for the future.


Topics


We’ve all experienced that feeling of starting with a company and not understanding acronyms or terms, struggling to find a topic expert, or finding helpful content. In fact, so much time is wasted searching for information that more pressing tasks are ignored.


Think of Topics as an AI-powered Wikipedia page for your organization. AI gathers all company-wide expertise and content and sorts it into categories like ‘customers’, ‘processes’, ‘projects’, and more.


So if you or a new-hire comes across a term, acronym, or topic that you’re not familiar with, there’s no need to scour Google searching for an answer. Instead, the answer finds you within Topics. Topic cards are automatically surfaced within Teams, Office 365, or SharePoint that contain tools, resources, documents, or videos with helpful information. They even contain contact information for experts that can provide additional information.



“We’re Just Getting Started”


Microsoft has stated that this is only the beginning of what users can expect with Viva. They’re committed to using the solution as a way to boost employee experience and help employees feel empowered—no matter where they’re working. The creation of the solution was just the first step to building an EXP that’s made for this new digital era. Leaders from Microsoft have stated that there is so much more to come. They’re optimistic that this platform will help employees stay connected, gain new knowledge, and empower company leaders to lead more effectively.


Harness the Power of Viva with JourneyTEAM


If you want your teams to experience the power of Viva today, contact JourneyTEAM. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have extensive knowledge of each of Microsoft’s products and can help you tailor Viva to fit the exact needs of your organization. Whether you’re looking for total project support or someone to help you along the way, JourneyTEAM will provide the exact level of support you need. Contact us today to get started.