Microsoft Viva: your Employee Experience Platform

10 Apr, 2023

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many people started working from home. We are still seeing hybrid work policies that have employees working from home several days a week. Microsoft Teams offers an important tool for effectively facilitating communication with colleagues and external parties. However, this method of digital connection is different from collaborating physically in the office. Working from home can potentially cause a sense of disconnect from colleagues or the organization.

Microsoft experienced the same phenomenon, so they thought about how technology can offer support in helping connect employees to their organization. Using the catchall title of ‘Viva’, Microsoft launched various tools that are part of the Employee Experience Platform (EXP). In this blog, we zoom in on Microsoft Viva as an important resource for employees and organizations.

Microsoft Viva, the sum of its applications?

Any search for ‘Microsoft’ online, or wherever you use Microsoft products, will also bring up ‘Microsoft Viva’ these days. Within Outlook, for example, employees have been receiving emails from Viva for some time now, in the form of a morning review of the workday or a summary of the past work week. Convenient and informative? Or do these messages always get tossed in the trash folder?

But Viva has more to offer!

Have you already discovered the Viva apps in Teams? Here’s an overview:

An existing Microsoft 365 license gives users access to a range of apps that are free (Connections, Insights, Learning, Engage) or fee-based (Topics, Insights+, Learning+, Goals). Apps like Viva Amplify and Pulse are still under development, although no details are available at the time of publication regarding whether they will be free or come with a price tag.

Listing each individual Viva application would just be repeating what so many Microsoft experts have already said. At HSO, we believe it’s important for organizations to take a broader, long-term view of such solutions. More than the sum of its applications, Microsoft Viva is in fact a platform: the Employee Experience Platform (EXP).

Microsoft EX platform

No need for panic, though. Although it’s a platform, it is not a different system or separate structure within Microsoft 365. All Viva apps use the existing systems, developed simply as extensions of the current structures, adding an innovative and intuitive look. This is achieved by relying on the AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities and potential of Microsoft 365 and Azure.

Let’s go back to explaining the EX platform.

Microsoft describes the concept as “a platform that helps people and teams to be their best by helping organizations deliver more connection, insight, purpose and growth.”

This is the true essence of how the platform is designed to be used: with a strong focus on employees and end-users. Microsoft Viva is not just about the technology that empowers employees to do their work more easily and productively; it is also focused on human well-being. The platform literally asks how a person is feeling, or advises them to take breaks at healthy intervals.

You can configure Microsoft Teams to send a notification at your chosen time of day so you can use a smiley face to indicate how you’re feeling. Or review tomorrow’s appointments in Teams at the end of the day, so you don’t overlook anything the next morning. Like all the other Viva apps, the aim is to increase, intensify and maintain engagement, identity and knowledge.

This EX platform also provides tools and generates data that help the organization understand how employees are doing. These insights can help the organization dig deeper and make targeted improvements. Where feedback is positive, the organization can reinforce the employee experience and ensure continuation of the successful approach. The platform and its Viva apps work both ways. It should be noted that all data collection is anonymized.

The fact that you may already have access to this platform within your Microsoft 365 license – or when the license is expanded – does not mean that organizations can simply flip a switch and let the system do the rest. You can plant the seedlings, but you still have to keep watering them, or they’ll never bear fruit.

Intelligent automation and AI

Enhance the Modern Workplace

Viva is already available, but where should you get started?

Regardless of whether an individual Viva app is applicable within your organization, simply having a technology at your disposal does not mean it will actually be used – or utilized to best effect. It is up to the organization to ensure that the investment involved in using Viva apps is not jeopardized because employees can’t see the forest for the trees, or even they ignore the Viva functionalities altogether.

As part of the EX platform, Microsoft Viva puts the focus on people – and all organizations should do that. After all, technological change always involves human effort, because the employees that are supposed to use the new tech are people too.

It is important to be clear about where the EX platform adds value and to ensure that the Viva apps chosen by the organization do in fact support and complement the employees’ work processes. In parallel, make sure the communications department is involved from the outset. This will ensure timely and appropriate communication within the organization about this new way of working and how it will help employees. Engage ambassadors and early adopters, and kick off the conversation with your employees!

Change management is crucial in this process. Never underestimate the impact of new technologies and applications on individual employees. In this case, learn from the primary concept behind Microsoft’s EXP: put employees first. If your organization’s main challenge in adopting Viva apps is related to change management, then that’s where you should be seeking expertise.

Insight into Microsoft Viva

Viva’s vast potential (and possible pitfalls) can make it overwhelming to explore. That’s why we would be happy to help your organization identify how Viva can offer added value. At the same time, you’ll find out how mature your organization is in focusing on your employees. Feel free to contact us so we can help your organization move forward.

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