2021 saw the launch of Microsoft Viva as the world shifted to hybrid working models and employee experience became a key talking point.
Since then, our clients frequently ask us what exactly is Microsoft Viva and, more importantly, what benefits can it bring to their business?
The Viva portfolio currently includes four modules – Topics, Connections, Learning, and Insights. But what exactly do these modules do and where do they sit within your business’ tech stack?
What is Microsoft Viva?
In the words of Microsoft:
“Microsoft Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights in the flow of work. Powered by Microsoft 365 and experienced through Microsoft Teams, Viva fosters a culture that empowers people and teams to be their best from anywhere.”
Its overarching aim is to help businesses connect with their people and improve their wellbeing. Viva helps leaders learn about their employees’ needs and provide their teams with the knowledge and training they need to carry out their duties.
Viva can be accessed through Teams and is powered by Microsoft 365 tools. Comprising four different modules, Viva builds on Microsoft 365 to connect each element of an employee’s working day, including emails, calls, and internal communications.
What benefits does Microsoft Viva bring to businesses?
Simply put, employee experience encompasses the overall experience your people have at work and of course, the aim for any business is to ensure this is as smooth, painless, productive and positive as possible.
Employee experience has always been important to businesses. But the shift to remote and hybrid working has really shone a light on people’s experiences at work.
We’re at a crossroads where employees are being more open about their workplace happiness than ever. They’re more likely to make changes to their employment based on this and employers need to make changes to reflect this, or they risk losing valuable staff.
Viva is embedded into Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and SharePoint making it easily accessible. Each Viva module targets a specific pain point when it comes to enhancing employee experience.
What is Viva Connections?
Viva Connections is closely linked with SharePoint and Yammer, enabling businesses to seamlessly bring their digital workplaces or intranets into Teams. The service runs on Microsoft 365, using Teams as a platform to view your existing SharePoint site.
Employees can access Viva Connections through their Microsoft Teams home site, as they would with other apps. Connections also integrates closely with Yammer communities, allowing employees to engage in conversations and stay up to date on company news.
A mobile app has also been released for Viva Connections which can be personalised for your business’ brand. According to Microsoft, the three key concepts that the Connections mobile app is anchored on are the:
- The dashboard: your employee’s digital toolset
- The feed: brining your employees important updates as and when needed
- Resources: audience-targeted way finding across platforms
Employees will have a high functionality of their SharePoint intranet within the Teams app. Users still need to use the browser for certain actions such as editing and collating SharePoint pages. This can be done as usual through SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365.
SharePoint or Viva Connections – why not both?
If your business already utilises a SharePoint intranet, why implement Viva Connections? Conversely, if employees can use Viva Connections to access everything they need, do they really need to make use of a SharePoint intranet?
The answer to both questions lies in a modern digital workplace product, such as Fresh. SharePoint is a powerful tool for business, and some employees may use SharePoint to its full capability on a daily basis. By giving employees access to the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools (including SharePoint and Viva Connections) you give them a choice and ultimately enhance employee experience within your business.
What is Viva Insights?
Viva Insights uses a combination of statistics and analytics to give employees recommendations for improving their wellbeing and productivity. Insights can be accessed as an app through Teams.
Recommendations within Insights are personalised to each employee’s unique way of working. Insights can help users to develop healthy working habits, follow up on commitments they have made or protect time in their schedule to focus.
Insights can also help leaders to improve processes within their business. Managers can leverage Microsoft Analytics and through Insight’s Workplace Analytics tool (available within the paid-for version) to understand whether their employees have enough time to focus, and how their time could be better allocated to improve employee wellbeing.
Businesses can integrate third-party apps such as Headspace and Glint into Insights. Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app which can help employees to wind down and recharge. Glint is LinkedIn’s people success platform which uses surveying and employee engagement to assist leaders in gathering qualitative information about their teams.
What is Viva Topics?
Like Insights, Viva Topics is also a knowledge-based tool built to improve employees’ flow of work. Topics was initially announced as part of Microsoft’s Project Cortex, an AI-based initiative aiming to create knowledge networks for business.
Topics combines AI, Microsoft 365, and other Microsoft technology such as Graph and Search to turn knowledge into useful content for employees. It reviews knowledge throughout your intranet and creates an encyclopaedia personalised for your business.
The key functions of Viva Topics are to:
- Automatically identify common topics across your organisation and how these topics relate to each other
- Automatically create and curate topics pages and topics ‘cards’
- Automatically display this information to users when needed and simplify the search for knowledge
Topics cards are displayed automatically within your business’ intranet or SharePoint site pages. Key topics will be highlighted, and when users hover over these topics, cards with key information will be displayed.
If users click into the topics, they’ll be redirected to a dedicated page which shows more detailed information. Topic pages also link to other related subjects within the company.
Employees can lose up to 14% of their working time searching for information. A key benefit of Viva Topics is that it can reduce the time employees spend searching for information, increasing workflow and productivity.
Functionality for Viva Topics will soon be available withing Teams, Outlook, and Yammer.
What is Viva Learning?
Viva Learning is the latest module released in the Viva catalogue. Learning aims to make training and knowledge easily available to employees. Having access to these training resources allows your people to increase their skillset and improve their productivity. Viva Learning can be accessed through Teams.
Learning allows leaders to recommend training to induvial employees and teams. With a paid add-on, managers can allocate courses or modules as tasks and set specific objectives for their people. Businesses can create their own training materials in the form of documents, site pages, and videos.
Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning are integrated within Viva Learning included in Microsoft 365. Users have access to the access to the op 125 LinkedIn Learning courses. The full paid-for version of Viva Learning allows for full integration with LinkedIn Learning.
Businesses can also opt to integrate the third-party training into Viva Learning, including:
Within Learning, employees can also share and recommend learning content to their colleagues via a message within a Teams channel or pinning content in a tab.
What’s next for Microsoft Viva
Connections, Insight, Topics, and Learning are now all generally available. While Viva currently boasts four modules, Microsoft continues to expand the portfolio of its employee experience platform.
Microsoft recently acquired Ally.io, an objectives and key results (OKR) software platform. It was announced in October that fifth OKR module will be added to the Viva family in the near future.