Microsoft Viva enhancements address employee disconnection in hybrid work environments

For most office workers, working outside the office has been the new normal for nearly two and a half years. Hybrid working, however, has created a growing disconnect between employees and leaders, according to new research from Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index Pulse Report, published alongside the latest product updates to its employee experience platform, Viva.

The report “Hybrid work is just work. Are we wrong? ”Is based on data from 20,000 people in 11 countries, plus trillions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 and results from LinkedIn and Glint People Science.

Organizations have reached a critical turning point in the evolution of hybrid work, with Microsoft’s findings clearly demonstrating that a new approach is needed on the part of companies, said Sunita Khatri, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft.

“Now more than ever, leaders need to balance employee interest with what it takes for the business to succeed in the future,” said Khatri. “This means aligning people’s tasks with work that matters or has an impact and creating an employee experience that meets employee expectations.”

These tensions are particularly acute when it comes to productivity issues. Dubbed “productivity paranoia” by Microsoft, research shows 85% of leaders say switching to hybrid work made it difficult to trust their employees to be productive, while 87% of employees surveyed for the report claimed to be productive on the job.

Managers lack visual cues of productivity

Many leaders and managers lack the old visual cues of what it means to be productive because they can’t physically “see” who works hard, according to Microsoft. The report found that 49% of hybrid work managers said they struggled to trust their employees are doing their best, compared with 36% of in-person managers.

Additionally, 54% of hybrid work managers reported having less visibility into the work their employees do, while only 38% of in-person managers reported having the same problem. As a result, employees now feel the pressure to “prove” that they are working, causing a surge in so-called “digital overwhelm”.

As a result, unless leaders stop worrying about their employees’ work and instead focus on helping them prioritize the most important work, Microsoft speculates that hybrid work will become unsustainable. This problem is further illustrated by the fact that 81% of employees surveyed said it was important that their managers helped them prioritize their workload, but only 31% said their managers ever provided clear guidance during individual meetings.

The report also highlighted the need for organizations to have a better understanding of what motivates their employees to enter the office. 73% of employees and 78% of business decision makers surveyed said they needed a better reason to enter the office than the company expected, with 84% saying they would be motivated to enter if they could socialize with colleagues and 85% citing the ability to rebuild team bonds.

To build employee loyalty, Microsoft research highlights the importance of retraining and retraining employees. Among respondents, 55% of employees said the best way to develop their skills is to change companies. However, 68% said they would stay longer at the company if it were easier to change jobs internally, a figure that rises to 76% if they knew they would be offered support for learning and development.

To try to address the challenges outlined by the report, Microsoft has rolled out a number of new additions to its Viva platform.

Microsoft Viva faces the challenges of hybrid work

Khatri said that, in addition to trying to bridge the disconnect between employees and managers, all updates to the Viva platform are focused on unifying the employee experience. These include two new apps, Viva Pulse and Viva Amplify.

Viva Pulse is designed to enable managers and team leaders to get regular and confidential feedback on their team’s experience, using intelligent models and research-supported questions to help managers pinpoint what works well, where to focus, and what actions could be undertaken to address the need team.

“This [product] it’s really focused on allowing managers to regularly seek feedback from their teams and then being able to act on those confidential responses, ”Khatri said.

By comparison, Viva Amplify aims to improve communication between leaders and employees. The app centralizes communication campaigns, offers writing guidance to improve message resonance, enables publishing to multiple channels and distribution groups in Microsoft 365, and provides metrics for improvement.

In addition to the app launch, Microsoft is also introducing a number of new features to Viva, including Answers in Viva, Leadership Corner in Viva Engage, and People in Viva.

Answers in Viva uses AI to match employee questions to answers and experts across the organization to help put collective knowledge at the service of all employees, while Leadership Corner provides a space for employees to interact directly with leadership, share ideas and perspectives, participate in organization initiatives, and more.

People in Viva is also an AI-powered feature that creates profile cards detailing an employee’s team interests, knowledge, and goals to help colleagues easily discover connections, experts, and insights within the organization.

Viva integrations improve ease of use

Viva Goals, which launched over the summer, will also have updated features, including deeper integration with Microsoft Teams to control OKRs (goals and key results), new integrations with Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project, and an Azure DevOps extension. .

The integrations improve ease of use, said JP Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

“The fact that many of the employee-facing experiences can be used directly within teams is helpful in reducing some of the complexity of the many features,” Gownder said.

Additionally, advanced integrations between Viva Learning and LinkedIn Learning will make it easier for users to access content from the LinkedIn Learning Hub, which will all sync directly into Viva. A new home experience in Viva Connections will bring all Viva apps together in one place, and updates to the Viva briefing email will provide more personalized productivity advice to help employees catch up on work, meetings and learning.

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