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How to boost employee experience with Microsoft Viva

With the advent of hybrid and remote work, it’s become clear that while the office may not have been essential for productivity, it did have a major role to play in culture and engagement. Buffer’s annual ‘State of Remote Work‘ report uncovered the two biggest challenges facing a dispersed workforce: ‘communication and collaboration’ and ‘loneliness.’

Someone at Microsoft has clearly been paying attention, because they’ve recently rolled out something called Microsoft Viva. Here’s what it is, and how you can use it to support your team — whether they’re working from home or across the office.

What is Microsoft Viva?

We’ll let Microsoft explain themselves before we break things down further:

‘Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights.’

It’s a collection of applications (or ‘modules’) geared towards empowering and engaging your team. They’re delivered using the existing capabilities of Microsoft 365, and accessed through Teams.

That’s still pretty top-level information, though. Microsoft claims that employees are ’empowered to be their best’ with the platform, but how do those modules actually pull that off?

Connections

Connections (or ‘Microsoft Viva Connections’, to give it its full name), acts as your engagement hub. It’s there to help you surface resources and company updates and can be customised by role. That way, the most important information for each type of employee is at the fore, and they don’t have to go looking for it.

It’s like an integrated, beefed-up intranet that employees will actually use. It puts your engagement-driving internal communications front-and-centre in Teams instead of leaving them to collect dust in a lonely corner of the internet.

Insights

Viva Insights does what you probably expect it to do: provide insights. While the name isn’t all that exciting, the data it tracks and analysis it offers is. The module gives equal weight to productivity and wellbeing, and tracks how the two interact with one another via employee surveys and performance monitoring.

That’s an encouraging indication of the increased priority organisations are now giving to mental and physical health.

It’s a useful tool for managers looking to take a preventative approach to burnout. It’s also great for executives in search of a birds-eye view look at their workforce, but there’s something for employees, too.

Insights includes a ‘virtual commute‘ feature, designed to help your team switch off when they’re working remotely. That’s valuable, because ‘not being able to unplug’ came in a close third on Buffer’s list of remote working challenges. Insights integrates with the Headspace app to provide meditations and a routine that creates a clear separation between work and life.

Learning

Viva Learning encourages engagement with the learning pathways you’ve created for your team.

It does so by centralising learning resources in an education portal that’s accessible via Teams. This removes as many barriers as possible between your employees and their development.

Aside from encouraging performance-boosting upskilling, it’s a great retention tool. According to LinkedIn, 94 percent of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their education.

Viva Learning streamlines the course curation process by integrating Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, major education platforms like Coursera, and your own custom content. As with all of the Viva modules, you can tailor it according to an employee’s role.

Topics

Viva Topics rounds out the modules that are currently available. It’s a tool designed to enable knowledge-sharing across your business.

It does so with ‘topic cards’: pop-ups that appear when your team are using applications in the 365 suite. They can feature software how-tos, related documents, explanations of company jargon and more.

There’s also a feature that allows you to include the contact details of ‘related people’ — members of your organisation that are experts in whatever’s being described, and that can answer any questions the topic card hasn’t been able to.

Viva la… employee experience

We’ve written about hybrid working and the ‘next normal’ on our blog, and what it takes to build a sustainable work-from-home system. Employee experience needs to be a cornerstone of that system.

‘Employee wellbeing’ is so multifaceted that it’s hard to know what to work on first. Microsoft Viva solves that problem by distilling the core aspects of employee experience, gathering them, and putting them front-and-centre for your team.

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