By David J. Rosenthal
Experience design, building processes and interactions that solve problems and make life simpler, has for years been focused on users and customers. More recently, however, the experiences of a new group is getting the attention it deserves: employees.
Employee Experience (EX) design looks at the logistical and psychological implications of a workplace experience with an eye towards creating encounters that enrich the satisfaction and productivity of employees. It’s a strategic approach with benefits that filter down.
Happier, less stressed, better informed, and more empowered employees can do more, including:
- Manage their teams better
- Interact with coworkers more readily
- Communicate more openly with leadership
- Deliver a better customer experience
The key to any experience design framework is understanding the needs of the people whose workflows you are attempting to optimize. The same tools that inform customer and user experience design improvements, such as journey mapping and touchpoint analysis, come into play here.
Fortunately, Microsoft has a solution built just to address these needs: Microsoft Viva.
The New Normal Requires New Tools
Amid the tumult of a global pandemic, the rapid rise of remote and hybrid work, and alarming levels of burnout and turnover in the workplace, the need for employee engagement and experience design improvements have never been more urgent — and that’s where Microsoft Viva can make a huge difference for growing organizations hoping to reverse those trends.
Microsoft first launched Viva in early 2021. It’s an AI-powered, centralized platform for overseeing and managing all aspects of the employee experience, for both employees themselves and managers, with the goal of enhancing access to information and promoting more seamless collaboration.
The rise of remote and hybrid work has highlighted the need for employee experience innovations like Viva. “The employee experience is no longer defined by or tethered to a physical location. We need new ways to keep employees engaged and informed, all in the flow of work,” explains Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 Vice President.
Viva is built around four modules: Viva Insights, Viva Learning, Viva Topics, and Viva Connections:
This module interprets data from productivity and collaboration applications and platforms, both from Microsoft and third parties, and reveals patterns that might be affecting work outcomes. Input sources include:
- SAP SuccessFactors
Some of the tools integrated into Viva Insights serve to directly address issues that it discovers. For example, the Stay Connected pane makes it easier for employees to prioritize the time they need for the face-to-face meetings that keep them on the same page with their colleagues. It also tracks shared documents, emails, and chat threads that might be relevant to them, simplifying the process of juggling their various ongoing tasks and projects.
For managers, Viva Insights provides an anonymized overview of stress levels, whether too many meetings are happening (or going on for too long), and whether employees are at risk of overwork. It’s well understood by now that productivity, efficacy, and creative thinking are negatively correlated with non-stop work. Digital platforms may be able to deliver the same quality of service 24/7/365, but human beings need time to physically and mentally recharge.
Viva Insights also includes daily and monthly briefings with suggestions for improving work habits and team cohesion. Microsoft has also announced its adding a new app to Insights called Effective Meetings that gives meeting organizers better tools to share their meetings, collaborate on agreed rules for meetings regarding length and format, and make it simpler to integrate links to Microsoft Teams for all meetings.
Any growing organization will likely also have a growing list of resources, communications, knowledge bases, and guidelines to manage. Viva Learning centralizes all information that employees might need, making them accessible anywhere at any time, easily searchable, and simple to integrate with other libraries, including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and third party options.
Managers can assign learning tasks in Teams, track progress as they move towards completion, and ensure employees are always up to speed on organizational processes.
The AI-empowered part of Microsoft Viva really shines in Viva Topics. It’s an analytical engine that automatically categorizes, prioritizes, and organizes all inputs and content across an organization, segregating resources into groups, like projects, products, and customers.
Topics also provides helpful links and pop-ups throughout workflows, so if an employee sees a codename or acronym that is new to them, the relevant information or connection they need to understand and leverage it is always just a hover or click away.
Insights spots patterns, Learning makes knowledge accessible, Topics organizes information, but Viva Connections is where organizations bring their entire employee engagement approach together. It’s a company-branded portal that delivers all the news, conversations, and documents that employees need into one, individually-tailored feed.
It’s how organizations ensure their critical outreach is getting to the right eyeballs at the right time, and verify that goals are aligned, employees are connected to the organization, and that everyone has the tools and information they need to succeed.
Privacy Is Part of a Great EX
Oversight is necessary for optimizing the employee experience, but it’s incredibly important to be transparent and cautious about how sensitive personal identifiable information is collected and shared. A recent survey by ExpressVPN found that 59% of employees said they felt anxious about being monitored by their employer with technology, and 43% said too much surveillance was a breach of trust.
Microsoft is aware of these concerns and has taken active steps to alleviate them in Viva’s modules by de-identifying and aggregating data. That means individual worker data is only viewable by that employee and their supervisor only has access to information tied to their team as a whole.
Improved Employee Experiences Show Up on Your Bottom Line
With so many companies struggling to attract and retain high quality talent right now, it’s never been more crucial to invest in enhancing the employee experience. Research by Glint shows that highly engaged employees are 12 times less likely to leave their company, and Gallup found that organizations with highly engaged employees have 21% greater profitability than those that don’t.
Razor Technology helps growing organizations optimize the employee experience with industry-leading tools like Microsoft Viva. Contact us today to discuss how we can help improve your employee engagement.