One of Microsoft’s most exciting initiatives this year is Microsoft Viva. What makes this effort so interesting is that Microsoft and employee development has always been an oxymoron. Employee care and development didn’t seem to be a priority for the company for much of its existence, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that employees need more care and consideration. than they are currently receiving. Microsoft could be the biggest beneficiary of this effort because, historically, Microsoft has had one of the toughest work cultures in technology. This week Microsoft updated Viva, and I remain impressed with the effort.
My bachelor’s degree is in workforce management, which was on a set of older tools like Viva that we were developing to do a lot of things that Viva does. Yet the effort lacked the backing of a company like Microsoft to bring it to market. And, at the time, mainframe technology and its reliance on MIS (which would become computing) crippled many of those early efforts.
Now that the technology is ready, Microsoft is taking this space seriously. The result should be much better employee engagement, productivity, loyalty, and much less employee burnout in companies that properly deploy tools like Viva.
The statistics behind the change
Microsoft reports that their surveys, surveys that led to the creation of Viva, show that companies that hire their employees have 21% higher profitability. This result is because the employees of these companies are more likely to do things they love. Management is more committed to the development and advancement of employees. Employees are less likely to feel like they’ve forgotten the inner workings of a huge, indifferent machine.
Forty percent of employees are currently considering changing jobs because they feel they are unappreciated and forced to return to the office when they don’t want to go. Ninety-four percent of employees say they wouldn’t be in that 40% group if their company simply invested in their education, helped them progress, and protected their long-term prospects.
Employees in large companies want to be taken care of like employees in small businesses, but until recently the tools to do so just weren’t up to the task. An excessive focus on profitability coupled with an inadequate focus on employee care and nutrition has resulted in an almost unprecedented level of employee disloyalty.
One of the discussions that should be more public is the large amount of CVs generated because people don’t want to go back to the office. Most companies have no idea what a giant wave of quits looks like they might not economically survive.
Also read: Microsoft enables Power BI users to set achievable goals
The advantages of Microsoft Viva
The problem of decoupling employee management is what Microsoft viva is designed to solve. It is a tool that connects employees to their performance information. It then aggregates this information so that managers can better help their employees perform, develop their skills and even prepare for future jobs as technology or circumstances render the jobs they currently hold obsolete.
The four components of Viva are: Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Topics and Viva Learning.
Viva connections is a gateway to the employee experience in a company. Connections is an organized MSN-style experience, but focused on business content. Think of Connections as a dynamic corporate newsletter where employees can get relevant information through internal connections to collaborative products like SharePoint and Yammer. This hub can be customized according to the needs of the company, department or employee as needed. Employees often feel that they are unaware of critical information about their work and their business; this is focused on solving this problem.
Viva Insights focuses on individual productivity and well-being, arguably where businesses need the most immediate help given the expected departure of many employees. This component is the set of tools that helps employees stay focused, gives real-time feedback on their performance, and provides aggregated information to managers to help them understand and deliver what their employees need to be successful and progress.
Managers cannot solve problems if they are not aware of them. This tool provided insight into burnout, personal issues, and issues that the employee might experience and that management would typically see. This is not espionage, but rather an indicator that an employee has a problem. This allows the manager to approach the employee with offers of help without violating that employee’s privacy. I know that a tool like this would have made me a better manager if he had been available when I had one.
Viva topics identifies and categorizes knowledge across the organization so that employees, who often feel isolated and lonely, especially during these times of working from home, can find and use available resources. It fosters collaboration and information sharing and provides a beneficial route for new employees who do not yet know where to look or request information essential to their effective performance. I would have killed for this tool the first time I went to work for a big company because no one had time for me. I spent almost three months thinking I was going to be fired because I had no idea what my job was because it changed right after I was hired.
Long live learning may be one of the most critical components of this tool, as technological changes, advancements in AI, and improvements in automation will be eliminating and creating jobs at an incredible rate. Pushing and allowing employees to retrain will be essential during this time. This stream will allow companies to encourage and support employees in expanding their skills and provide resources to proactive employees who see these changes coming or who move on to more fulfilling jobs without having to work elsewhere.
Make the “Great Place to Work” list
I am as fascinated by Microsoft moving in this direction as I am impressed by this effort. Microsoft has realized that a product like Viva is not just essential for the market. Any business, including Microsoft, needs to ensure retention and productivity while helping its employees improve and enjoy their work over time.
If I was looking for a job, one of my criteria now would be to make sure that a tool like Viva is used by the recruiting company. Only then could I make sure I enjoyed the experience once I got started. I am a strong supporter of the “Great Place To Work” efforts; tools like Viva are key to making sure any business gets on this list.
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