In February of 2021, Microsoft announced its foray into the world of Employee Experience solutions with Microsoft Viva.
Viva has four main components:
- Topics, which is all about identifying information that exists across your Microsoft 365 environment and organizing it so it can be curated and surfaced to others as they work across your network.
- Connections is not launched yet, but is designed to enhance culture and communication, via a social-network-like feed with news, announcements, and conversations.
- Learning is yet to be launched as well, but looks to be designed as a way to find, assign, track and enable access to your own content, existing LMS, Linkedin Learning and Microsoft Learn products.
- Insights is powered by Microsoft’s Glint acquisition, and focuses on personal, manager and leadership insights to boost productivity and well being. This module is available now, but the manager and leadership capabilities require you to purchase Microsoft Workplace Analytics.
So what does this launch mean for HR leaders? It reminds me of the launch of Windows 95. Windows 95 was a huge event. We didn’t have social media, and software still came in boxes. But it was one of the biggest marketing events of the decade. The summer it launched I was working at my mom’s Apple Computer dealership – yes, it was a world before the Apple store, and I am ancient. I remember people asking if it was a huge deal at work, and we had to say, not really. Windows 95 was taking the Microsoft OS and making it operate more like a Mac. Mac users had already made a decision on what was important to them. Windows was helping other individuals and organizations get to a desired future. Was Windows 95 “good”? Yes. But it wasn’t the only way.
The potential positive impact is really in the eye of the user. Microsoft has a clear hold on the enterprise market for basic productivity tools – email, spreadsheets, presentations, communications. And in some ways, these tools have been the default employee experience for many organizations. As you navigate your way through your day in many of today’s organizations, the experience you have at every turn is Microsoft.
But given the dominance of Microsoft in many organizations, it would be all too easy for current customers to simply add this into their bundle and assume they have employee experience handled.
Clearly Viva is clearly a step beyond Outlook and Teams, and the product looks beautiful. But given the dominance of Microsoft in many organizations, it would be all too easy for current customers to simply add this into their bundle and assume they have employee experience handled. Like any engagement, or experience, or learning tool, it’s never the tool that makes the difference. It’s the purpose and culture behind the tool. If your organization doesn’t already have a focus on documenting and sharing knowledge, or a desire to really enable employee wellness and retention, Viva or any other tool will not make it happen. If you do adopt Viva, use it as an opportunity to fix learning and communications processes and as a tool to spread and enhance culture. Don’t assume it will happen on it’s own because you turned on the software.
If you are looking for a little more detail and information about the employee experience category as a whole check out this whitepaper by our founder, Sarah White-Brennan. In it, she highlights the evolution of the employee experience market and how tools like learning, engagement and communications all are part of the bigger Employee Experience tech stack companies are adopting.