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Essentials for Elevating the Employee Experience: A Primer for Microsoft Viva

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In the wake of last year’s sudden shift to remote work, businesses made significant changes for frontline workers. Now, companies are preparing for the next normal – hybrid work. A recent Microsoft study defines hybrid work as some employees returning to work in an office while others continue working from home.

“Hybrid work isn’t the final evolution of this next normal,” explained Ron Jones, Director, Microsoft Modern Workplace at Perficient. “As we recover from the pandemic and start applying the lessons learned from working remotely, business leaders are thinking more deeply about which roles are remote and which are on site. Then, they have to define the best way to collaborate.”

“However, this is a heavy consideration for organizations,” he continued. “Nearly 60 percent of people feel less connected to their colleagues since shifting to fully remote work. Enhancing and evolving the employee experience is crucial for organizations to keep employees highly engaged.”

What is an Employee Experience Platform? Why is it important?

Conventionally, an Employee Experience Platform (EXP) is a system of experiences that help organizations create a thriving culture with engaged employees and inspiring leaders. An EXP is usually the technology supporting an organization’s efforts to provide:

  • Communications & Resources
  • Growth & Development
  • Knowledge
  • Wellbeing
  • Insights

The company culture drives these concentration areas and the benefits of each. As organizations lean more into technology solutions, how do they create and build that sense of culture and connection to other colleagues?

Crafting the Ideal Employee Experience

Positioning an EXP to meet your company’s desired cultural and technical outcomes is complex. The number of stakeholders involved (HR, IT, corporate communications, and others) combined with the areas of concentration including Intranet, Communities, Collaboration, Ideation, Learning, Analytics & Wellbeing, Apps & Business Processes, Accelerators, IP, and other third-party integrations are all underscored by the need for governance, automation tooling, and change management.

“Considering the wants and needs of today’s employee, a modern intranet platform only gives you the basics. They allow organizations to keep employees informed, but they don’t foster connections with the organization or other colleagues.”

– Ron Jones, Perficient

With the prevalence of remote and hybrid work scenarios, how organizations deliver the best employee experience matters more than ever. Many enterprise technology solutions, including Salesforce and IBM, have been exploring the EXP space from suites of tools to individual experiences that allow organizations to take a “best of breed” approach. One of the newer offerings this year is Microsoft Viva.

“All of our customers have their own unique starting line for their employee experience based on their existing investments and strategic direction,” said Jones.

“Some are taking a best of breed approach, chasing all the best tools for the best task. This often leads to extensive integration efforts and siloed experiences. Others are looking for something more holistic, taking on many of these concentration areas to provide a unified experience. Many tech players are in this space, but the biggest announcement this year has come from Microsoft,” he asserted.

Enter Microsoft Viva

Microsoft introduced a solution as part of its new EXP product category earlier this year. Named “Viva,” the platform supports organizations on enhancing collaboration, learning, and the wellbeing of their employees into a unified experience that’s housed in Teams.

Microsoft Viva aims to provide the next generation of employee experiences via the common surface of Microsoft Teams. It uses a set of four key functionality pillars:

  • Connections – Culture and communications
  • Insights – Productivity and wellbeing
  • Topics – People and expertise
  • Learning – Skills and growth

“Viva plays a big part of the connectedness back to the organization,” said Jones. “Businesses face difficulties in maintaining their teams. With our clients, we’ve seen that making the case for employee engagement has helped. Companies want operational efficiencies and greater profitability, but if they’re not making their people happy – or barely propping up employees to be more successful, then they will move on.”

“Disengaged employees are 12x more likely to leave their company compared to than those who are highly engaged.” (Glint)

Understanding The Employee Experience as an Hierarchy of Needs

With a significant number of knowledge workers that are still remote, they want to be productive, stay informed, and feel empowered.

Knowledge Worker Needs

Source: Perficient, Knowledge Worker’s Hierarchy of Needs

“Employees seek productive collaboration not just within their own teams but also with others across the organization. Those conversations need to be meaningful, and gathering information or getting quick answers should involve minimal obstacles,” continued Jones.

“Additionally, they want to personalize information to their role or location. For example, with continuous updates and news regarding COVID, I want to know what my local office is saying about reopening. Or, what information is shared by the state of Georgia? In my case, that information is more relevant versus what’s happening at the national level,” he explained.

Elevating Your Intranet Portal to a Modern Workplace

Like any transformation, going from an intranet portal to a personalized, optimized modern workplace is a journey. Perhaps your organization has a dated intranet, and you’re moving towards a modern intranet, which can be on any platform – Drupal, Acquia, Optimizely, Adobe Experience Manager, or Sitecore.

Employee Experience Journey

Source: Perficient, Enterprise Journey to a Modern Workplace

“These are all leading web content management systems; however, they usually don’t provide the best employee experience,” Jones commented.

“To provide a valuable employee experience, it requires integration of vital business systems and processes by embedding engagement into collaboration. An understanding of how employees work is key versus providing the ability to stay informed and consume content. This speaks to [Microsoft] Teams serving as the foundation with the intranet as a channel of information vs. building your intranet as a one-stop-shop,” Jones explained.

Ready to Reimagine Your Employee Experience?

Our dedicated Microsoft Modern Work practice brings the best expertise in the industry. Our Microsoft Partner Advisory Council and Partner Program contributions along with our 20+ years of delivering employee experiences to our clients means we seek to build the best strategy for your organization. From Intelligent Intranet to Microsoft Teams to Microsoft Viva, our consultants are here to ensure your success.

“We’re already embarking on Viva projects with some of our long-term clients for which we built their intranets years ago,” Jones remarked. “These clients wanted to shed their technical debt and modernize all of their sites. The good news is that’s a foundational piece of what Viva offers. At the very least, your organization needs a modern home site on your intranet to take advantage of Viva [Connections.]”

Your intranet portal is the doorway to creating and evolving your employee experience. If your organization is considering Microsoft Viva and wants to understand how to prep for it, we’re here to help.

Contact our team to learn more.

Did you know…

Microsoft recognized Perficient as a finalist for the 2021 Healthcare Partner of the Year Award. Read more about this honor and the great work we’re doing to reimagine the employee experience for one of our healthcare clients.

2021 Microsoft Partner of the Year Finalist_Healthcare Award

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Stephanie Gallina, Senior Manager, Microsoft + CXC Partner Marketing

Stephanie has more than 15 years' experience in marketing communications, leading and executing marketing strategies for corporate and non-profit organizations. She elevates the awareness of relevant digital solution topics and thought leadership for Perficient.

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