Companies are increasingly investing in a new category of tools called the employee experience platform (EXP) to unlock better HR outcomes in a remote-first world. In this segment, Viva is among the top players.
Microsoft Viva was released in February 2021, with different elements being released across the year. Microsoft’s Viva aims at helping enterprises that are contemplating the prospect of remote work. In many ways, this is their big wager on remote teams and hybrid settings becoming standard practice.
So, how can HR professionals leverage this powerful HR technology tool in 2023? Read on for more insights.
Defining Microsoft Viva
Simply put, Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform built on the company’s collaboration offering (Teams), cloud technology (Azure), and artificial intelligence (Copilot). Viva integrates four key elements of human resources management — engagement, well-being, learning, and knowledge — empowering employees to work more efficiently.
Because Viva was created for flexible workstations, it integrates flawlessly with Microsoft Teams. While Microsoft Viva’s basic functions are new, it is predominantly an integration platform. Microsoft Viva, for instance, integrates with Glink, LinkedIn Learning, Headspace, and Skillsoft, among many others, and additional third-party vendors are being onboarded on a regular basis.
(Also Read: What is Employee Experience? – A Complete Guide)
What Are the Key Microsoft Viva Modules?
When discussing Microsoft Viva for HR, modules are more pertinent than features, as the solution unifies all of the elements that constitute employee experience. These components, which are addressed by various modules, are:
Viva Connections is a platform for delivering your intranet with Microsoft Teams. This is essentially the “Home App” in Teams. Individuals may access internal discussions or company assets like policies and benefits, and also partake in communities like employee resource groups – all from a single app that can be customized within Microsoft Teams.
Today, more and more employees use Teams as their principal communication platform. Viva Connections helps deliver content to employees who don’t regularly access SharePoint.
Microsoft Viva Topics empowers people to put their skills to use by integrating AI into the apps that they use every day. With built-in compliance and safety features, Viva Topics automatically organizes content across apps and teams. This module operates in the background in order to facilitate in-the-moment knowledge sharing.
Microsoft Viva Learning is an app inside Microsoft Teams that supports individualized learning and can be entirely incorporated with a preexisting learning management system (LMS). When a user opens Microsoft Viva Learning within Teams, they will see a curated selection of courses from a wide range of providers. The courses are selected and organized automatically according to the user’s personal database and learning history.
This Microsoft Viva module for HR delivers hidden insights on employee and organizational wellbeing. You can find insights for:
- Managers: Information on trends that contribute to burnout and anxiety, like overbearing collaboration and inadequate focus time.
- Leaders: Organizational adaptability and work culture-related content.
Engage is a program for social communities with beginnings in the Communities app for Teams. It has all the attributes of a cutting-edge social media platform, like news updates, accounts, and the ability to upload images and videos. Storylines and themes are the two fundamental components of the Engage module.
6. Leadership Corner
A month after the general release of Viva Engage, Microsoft launched Leadership Corner. Employees are provided with a customized view of their executives’ recent activity and messages. Leadership Corner event styles include AMA (Ask Me Anything), polls, and other two-way communication aids. It also provides executives with interfaces for tracking employee feedback, sentiment, and metrics.
Viva Amplify is a new application that helps elevate interactions in multiple ways; contrary to the majority of modules, it is also open beyond Teams. The app consolidates communication processes. It also provides writing assistance to help human resources professionals create employee-resonant messaging. You may post on various platforms concurrently (Outlook, SharePoint, etc.), manage communications campaigns and analyze campaign performance to manage future HR communications.
This is, as its title suggests, a pulse survey tool integrated into Microsoft Viva. It permits supervisors and team leaders to solicit periodic, anonymous inputs from their team regarding the workflow in Teams. It has a query library supported by research, which helps you ask the most appropriate questions. Viva then employs sentiment analysis and trend detection to offer HR professionals important insights.
Glint, previously a LinkedIn engagement survey platform, migrated to the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform in 2023. Glint integrates instant feedback and action-taking into the Teams workflow. Using Glint and Insights together, HR professionals can obtain insights into both employee behavior and sentiment.
Copilot is Microsoft’s newest AI tool built using generative artificial intelligence. HR professionals using Microsoft Viva can rely on Copilot for:
- Goal-setting in Viva Goals: Facilitates the creation of objectives and key results (OKRs) and streamlines goal management across the organization.
- Content creation in Viva Engage: Facilitates the creation of posts by HR executives according to simple prompts or prevalent themes within workplace groups and contemporaneous conversations.
- Content personalization in Viva Engage: Provides suggestions for customizing messages, such as adjusting the tone of voice and content and recommending pertinent imagery.
- Conversational learning in Topics: Offers a chat-based dashboard for employees to find out more about key subjects and explore associated topics and projects.
How do HR Professionals Set Up Microsoft Viva?
Microsoft Viva is a suite of apps designed for installation purposes, like Viva Topics, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, Viva Connections, Viva Goals, and Viva Engage, among others. From the Microsoft 365 admin center, HR professionals can launch setup configurations, and manage licenses for every individual Viva app. Described below are the steps:
- Visit the Microsoft 365 administrative center.
- Sign in to your Microsoft 365 administrator account.
- In the search box, type Viva.
- Select Microsoft Viva to get to the Microsoft Viva administration interface.
From this page, you can perform nearly every administrative function that has to do with Viva. For instance, you may click on an app to access its settings page. Additionally, you can view the Viva plan bought or contained within your organization’s Microsoft 365 subscription.
An HR leader can also view or assign different admin roles for each app – for example, providing the Head of Learning with admin access to Topics and Learning.
Depending on location, the monthly cost per user for the Microsoft Viva package is $9. There are no additional fees associated with Viva Connections. Connections necessitates the use of Microsoft Teams as well as SharePoint Online licenses, however.
Viva Learning is accessible as an application inside Teams and organizations, or users with a premium license can use all of its functions. For Engage, an organization must have a valid Yammer license. Therefore, Viva Engage comes at no extra cost for most Microsoft 365 customers.
Therefore, HR professionals can either choose the entire suite or select specific Viva apps as per their organization’s unique use cases and existing HR technology stack.
Conclusion: Challenges and the Way Forward
While Microsoft Viva is a game-changer for HR professionals, it is not without its shortcomings. It requires a significant amount of effort to set up and configure, and the different apps with different licensing plans can be confusing. Also, there is no single Viva interface where employees can go for its functionalities. Instead, it is woven into the Teams collaboration and productivity experience, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.
HR professionals should also be mindful of the data that Viva collects since this HR tech solution relies heavily on analytics and AI to draw conclusions. For example, the company’s Productivity Score feature has received criticism for unfairly assessing employee performance based on collaborative activities.
Despite these challenges, Viva remains an excellent HR tech solution for companies looking to unify the employee experience, especially if the organization is already a Microsoft customer. The company is always adding new features, such as campaigns for HR marketing communications, advanced engagement analytics, an Instagram-like Stories feature, and much more.