WFH boom makes ‘worker experience’ a C-suite priority, says Microsoft Viva chief

A year of coping with pandemic-related issues after, C-suite leaders end up centered on the “employee experience today,” in accordance with Chuck Friedman, Microsoft’s corporate vice president responsible for the company’s new Viva system.

      Microsoft Viva          , that your company highlighted as of this year’s           Ignite event          , is made to provide digital equipment to support remote employees.           Unveiled final month          , it really is an employee experience system (EXP), with four modules centered on employee engagement, well-being, understanding, and knowledge.

Though fascination with employee experience have been increasing, said Friedman, it became popular this past year as businesses switched to a largely remote-work design and had to cope with issues this kind of as access to on-line training and development, maintaining company culture, and avoiding burnout even.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide turn off offices, “abruptly we moved from the workplace [where] individuals could possibly be next to one another to a remote place of work where in fact the demand for these exact things moved to digital,” Friedman said. “Most of these things together… needs to come,” resulting in Viva.

chuck friedman headshot Microsoft

Chuck Friedman, Microsoft vice president responsible for Viva.


Much like all certain specific areas of digital transformation, the necessity to cope with remote workforce problems – from HR apps to workforce analytics and worker engagement – boomed through the pandemic, stated Raul Castanon, a senior analysis analyst at 451 Analysis, component of S&P Global Marketplace Intelligence.

About four out of five businesses (78%) see supporting remote employees as challenging over the next 2 yrs, in accordance with 451, with worker experience issues – such as for example work-life balance, usage of technology, group morale, and worker retention – among top worries.

As a total result, said Friedman, a concern that had largely fallen on recruiting is continuing to grow in importance among senior company leaders. “That [obligation] has fundamentally transformed,” he mentioned, “and the complete C-suite is now taking into consideration the experience of their workers: Just how do they retain workers, just how do they maintain morale of these employees?”

Pre-pandemic, HR was associated with the employee experience closely, &nbsp particularly;employee engagement, whilst CIOs, IT supervisors ,and occupation (LOB) leaders focused a lot more on technologies adoption and change administration, said Castanon.

“What we’re seeing at this point post-pandemic is really a convergence and an evergrowing overlap that is resulting in cooperation between these locations…. HR can be involved with productivity, IT with worker engagement, LOB supervisors with both, and so forth,” he said.

Matt Cain, the Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, said within a written report that Viva will probably “elevate the prominence” of worker experience technology inside it circles, and should result in increased interest within a variety of providers, “requiring greater degrees of This and HR collaboration.”


Viva accessibility 

At Ignite, Microsoft offered up additional information about the 4 Viva modules – Connections, Insights, Learning and Topics. On the list of updates is the launch of a desktop computer app for Viva Connections, the company-top quality intranet portal that utilizes SharePoint on Yammer and usage of news, conversations, along with other resources. This month the desktop computer app will undoubtedly be available, with a cellular version come early july due. The Connections module will be offered by no extra cost to existing Microsoft 365 customers.

Viva Learning – which delivers an organization’s custom articles along with assets from Microsoft’s LinkedIn Understanding and third-party providers – may arrive as a open public preview in April. Membership and pricing details will undoubtedly be launched when that module becomes available, said Microsoft.

Viva Insights, the analytics module that combines components of the prevailing MyAnalytics personal productivity Place of work and tracker Analytics team-wide metrics, is in public areas preview now. At Ignite, 30 days microsoft touted a “digital commute” feature obtainable in preview next, in the entire year and an integration with the Headspace guided meditation app arriving later. Insights can be acquired at no extra price to Microsoft 365 customers, with the organization-degree insights accessed being an add-on via Place of work Analytics.

Microsoft Viva Topics may be the only accessible module currently generally, and costs $5 per user every month.

Friedman said early fascination with the platform has result from companies of most sizes. While Microsoft spent some time working with huge enterprises on Viva carefully, Friedman sees the system as an excellent fit for smaller companies, too.

“I think the thing is universal; little- and medium-sized companies have the same established of challenges plus they need the exact same set of equipment,” he said, noting that different companies shall gravitate to different aspects of Viva.

“Frontline worker-focused businesses are looking at studying and skilling as a genuine opportunity,” he stated, arguing that Viva Connections will keep non-office-based workers informed with their wider corporation via their mobile gadget. And information workers may use of Insights to handle burnout, for example.


Teams being an employee encounter portal

A key facet of Viva is the option of its modules within Microsoft’s Teams collaboration system, which includes 115 million everyday active users. But Friedman acknowledged the chance of overloading customers with a lot information and way too many notifications too.

Microsoft worked to create a interface (UI) that minimizes information overload, Friedman said. He pointed to Viva Connections, that may assist as a front-end UI within Groups to emphasize important info for a consumer .

the power is had by “The Connections module to compose all the Viva capabilities and talk to a single voice,” he said. “I’m hopeful we are able to simplify a few of the UI inside Teams through the use of Connections as sort of front finish, a highlighted experience, instead of the basic notion of many different applications attempting to reach the employee simultaneously.”

Machine learning might help pick the right period for notifications also. “When you’re in the center of an interview, it’s most likely not the right period for a understanding [notification] to pop-up and say, ‘Hey, Chuck – do you wish to now get some learning right?’” he said. “We’re likely to … utilize the right occasions of your day to [end up being] proactive in conversation.

“The flip side is in the event that you deeply bury things too,” said Friedman. “Learning will be another great example. Today the training content exists in lots of companies, but when a worker wants to move and learn something brand-new, they have trouble finding it often.”


Employee analytics and personal privacy

With Viva Insights, Microsoft wants the analytics obtainable in Microsoft 365 to become more accessible by employees, supervisors, and business leaders.

      Worker analytics is really a growing concentrate           for most collaboration and productivity suppliers, and Microsoft’s present Place of work and MyAnalytics Analytics are usually central within Viva.

12 months microsoft came under fire for another of its analytics tools last, Productivity Rating ;  it highlighted a worker’s program use to Microsoft 365 admins before adjustments were announced to anonymize and aggregate information at the average person level.

Friedman said maintaining worker privacy is essential in Viva. “We shall build clarity in to the UI around what information is proven and what data isn’t. We’re doing a lot of things on the back-finish to make certain that we have been only showing aggregate information, that we are getting rid of anything that’s personally identifiable….Then we shall build reinforcement methods in to the transparency and UI about why they are able to trust the data, who has usage of it, that kind of experience.”

Simultaneously, Friedman said you can find advantages to both business and employees leaders in analytics information.

“…There’s value inside transparency around things such as goals, things such as purpose for the united group,” he said. “You want to help managers do a highly effective job of communicating with their teams increasingly, what their group is focused on, and present aggregate sentiment through equipment like Glint: ‘When you produced this announcement or once you announced this group of goals for the team, some tips about what the influence was on the group.’”


More ahead?

With Viva services at various degrees of availability and the probability of more modules on the true way, Microsoft gets started – and analysts see area for expansion just. In his record, Cain referred to Viva’s modules as “beginning investments, instead of fledged mature solutions with very clear and tangible business worth fully.”

While Microsoft phone calls Viva a worker experience system, Gartner classifies it for example of EXTech, “a different assortment of employee-facing applications made to influence and enhance the worker experience and organizational lifestyle,” said Cain.

“A completely realized employee experience system could have a broader top-degree organizational structure, address a much bigger group of interactions and touchpoints, and meet up with the needs of a number of worker types, including desk-much less or frontline workers.”

Castanon said Microsoft’s expense in Viva quantities to probably the most ambitious try to give a unified system for employee experience up to now.

“We expect you will have additional modules and features added,” he said. “However, since it stands it is being among the most comprehensive EXP available probably.”

Unifying various tools might help businesses adjust to remote function in the long run, he said, plus Viva’s comprehensive process could possibly be “instrumental for companies seeking to tackle the issues of the ‘new regular,’” such as for example “managing employee productivity plus engagement for the distributed workforce, and knowing the complexities that allowing secure remote collaboration involves.

“This will need a broader organizational transformation effort; the Viva system could possibly be instrumental for allowing this transformation,” Castanon mentioned.

“We’re as of this category-creation second,” said Friedman. For the reason that feeling, he said, Microsoft’s technique differs from that of Workplace 365, where well-established items had been packaged as a registration. Although Viva modules depend on existing Microsoft 365 providers such as for example SharePoint heavily, Yammer, and MyAnalytics, the ongoing services symbolize a fresh focus and new settings of interaction in line with the employee experience.

“I would point out we’re early in this trip,” he said. often “Very, when Microsoft engages it is a better-established type. I don’t believe employee experience systems as a classification are completely defined yet, and that is exciting; it is possible to point in a whole lot of directions….

“We expect that will evolve as time passes; we’re trading intentionally in being truly a leader in the area.”

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