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Microsoft Launches “Employee Experience” Solution for the Work-From-Home Era

Called Microsoft Viva and part of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite, the new system is designed to keep remote employees engaged and productive by centralizing information about colleagues, training, wellbeing, and corporate knowledge. By Rich Freeman

Microsoft has introduced a new “employee experience” platform designed to keep employees engaged and productive in the work-from-home era by centralizing information about colleagues, training, wellbeing, and corporate knowledge.

A new component of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite utilized primarily from inside Teams, Microsoft Viva combines a digital employee gathering place, an employee health portal, a learning and education center, and a workplace wiki.

The new system contains four modules. Viva Connections is designed to keep remote employees engaged despite their isolation from one another.

“Our research shows that nearly 60% of workers feel less connected to their team since the move to remote work,” says Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365. “We’re struggling to replace the comradery once created by things like company town halls, off-sites, and events.”

Through Connections, businesses can stage such activities, organize employee membership groups, and distribute company news. Content can be customized by role if managers wish to provide one set of resources to frontline workers and another to knowledge workers, for example, and can also be targeted to people in specific departments, regions, or job categories.

The system gives employees a personalized, branded Connections dashboard in Teams, as well as a Facebook-style personalized content feed that draws on news and information from Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Yammer, Microsoft Stream, and other sources. Users can share feedback on those items and participate in conversations about them within the Yammer Communities app.

Viva Learning, which is currently in a private preview, is an employee education app for Teams. “Employees can easily discover and share everything from training courses to microlearning content, and managers get the tools they need to assign learning and then to track the outcomes,” Spataro says.

The system integrates with the LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn platforms, as well as the Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors learning management solutions. Support for additional third-party education products will be added in the future.

According to a study by Microsoft’s LinkedIn group, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.

Viva Insights seeks to help organizations combat the mental and physical stress often associated with remote work.

“Employees are working longer hours, often feeling disconnected from colleagues,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Sometimes I myself don’t know whether I’m working from home or sleeping at work.” That familiar sensation can leave employees exhausted and distracted. 

“At a time when over 30% of workers say the pandemic has increased their sense of burnout, it’s never been more important to help people unplug and make the most of their scarcest resource, their time,” Spataro says.

Currently in public preview, Insights provides features for maintaining relationships with offsite colleagues and organizing time more effectively. The system draws on information from Zoom, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors. In coming months, it will incorporate the “virtual commute” and other personal wellness functionality Microsoft added to Teams last September.

To ensure privacy, the solution makes personal wellness data visible to individual employees only, while allowing managers to view aggregated and anonymous information.

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