With the Great Resignation in full swing amid epidemic employee burnout
, workplace leaders are feeling the pressure to improve the employee experience. Enter the employee experience platform (EXP) as a tool to spot employee issues that could impact wellbeing and lead to reduced performance or worse. Microsoft shared
how it aims to address these concerns at its Ignite conference this week, announcing the general availability of the Microsoft Viva suite.
Ignite Update Brings More Viva Functionality
As revealed earlier this year, Microsoft Viva features four modular apps that provide various capabilities designed around the employee experience. At Ignite, Microsoft showcased the four apps, revealing new functionality for each. Below is a recap of each module with Ignite updates:
- Viva Connections is an app that pulls together relevant company news, conversations, and app and device resources into a single portal. The module integrates with Workday, ServiceNow, Qualtrics, UKG, and others, with Espressive support coming later this year. Additionally, managers can add cards for Approvals, Shifts, and Tasks from Microsoft Teams into their Viva Connections dashboard.
- Viva Insights provides productivity and wellbeing recommendations for both end-users and managers. With new insights and tools, managers and team leads can track outstanding tasks, recognize accomplishments, and more. Additionally, they can monitor these insights via a new tab in the Viva Insights app. To improve the meeting experience, Insights will surface insights on how to improve meeting habits, so teams augment their meetings to boost productivity. Lastly, guided mediations from wellness provider Headspace will be generally available this month with English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Viva Topics uses AI technology to organize content across systems and teams and groups information assets like projects, products, processes, and customers into topic pages and topic centers. Viva Topics integrations will be available for Outlook, Yammer, and Bing by end of 2021. Early adopters will also be able to add Viva Topics directly to chats and channels in Microsoft Teams, which will roll out early next year to all Viva subscribers. By the end of the year, managers will be able to oversee their knowledge base with the ability to automatically group related topics into segments and receive usage analytics.
- Viva Learning connects learning management systems to Microsoft Teams, allowing users to track required learning. Users can search across all learning sources connected to Viva Learning like LinkedIn Learning, Skillsoft, and other learning services, recommend learning to team members, and filter learning by interests and recommendations. Currently, the module is GA in Teams desktop and mobile, with Microsoft 365 tenant support coming in the following weeks.
Additionally, Microsoft will bring the capabilities from strategic goal-planning and execution management software provider Ally.io, which it acquired last month
, into the Viva suite as a new module, available second half of 2022.
The Microsoft Viva suite is currently available for an additional $9 per user/per month to Microsoft 365 or Office 365 users, and organizations that subscribe now will receive the Ally.io module at no additional cost.
Addressing Workplace Pain Points With EXP
With this week's Viva news, "Microsoft is delivering on the promise and vision of Viva as a hub for employee connections and community building, measurements and insights for individuals and managers, learning, and knowledge management," Beth Schultz, VP of research and principal analyst at Metrigy, said.
This comes at a time when employees aren't only feeling burnout but lacking a strong connection to the rest of an organization, Schultz noted. "Two of the biggest enterprise pain points to be managing remote employees and a diminished sense of community and culture among employees," Schultz said, citing a recent Metrigy
Microsoft is not the only tech company looking to address employee experience concerns with various technology products and services. For instance, Cisco has partnered
with Thrive Global to bring its Reset videos to the Webex platform, and Zoom provides a host of partner integrations via its Zoom App ecosystem, including Wellness That Works by WW and WellnessCoach.Live. Outside the area of cloud video service providers, the EXP and workplace wellness market is full of various apps, many of which can also be integrated into an existing platform.
As is the case with many technology or workplace decisions, deciding on a specific service comes down to the workplace needs of the organization, and often there isn’t a right or wrong decision — just what works best for the employees and the organization. But given the current mood among employees – “It’s almost like there’s a mob energy out there
,” workplace expert and author Alison Green recently noted in the New York Times — workplaces will need to act promptly on ways to improve employee wellbeing (whether by tech of HR programs) or face greater workplace challenges.