An employee experience empowers workers. A man works from home on a Teams call.Outside of small pockets of excellence, the HR and employee experience tech market has very rarely managed to pique my interest and imagination. I enjoy the marketing, energy and communities around certain products. However, many of these products or platforms focus almost exclusively on very narrow and specific aspects of employee experiences. That is not a bad thing. There are many exceptional platforms that make a positive contribution to the performance of the employee experience. The challenge is that they are often sold as the complete employee experience solution or platform when they aren’t. This is a problem because technology is then poorly positioned as the cure-all for employee experience.

The current state of employee experience tech

As someone who is immersed in the employee experience field, I often reflect on how the market can impact the future of work.  Often, the focus with employee experience tech is not always where it should be. The employee experience, in many instances, is overrun with technology solutions and vendors all working on different parts of the puzzle.

For employees, this can be especially bewildering. They have to navigate far too many apps and platforms during a normal working day. To leaders, it can be a challenge to manage and deliver the value that such technologies promise. It’s all got a bit too much. One company I came across had several hundred technology solutions. This caused confusion with the employees and the company. This delivers fragmentation at the expense of focus – one of the notable problems Microsoft attempts to solve.

I’ve often said that there are only a handful of companies around the world that could ever build an integrated employee experience platform. Microsoft is one of them. In just one day, Microsoft 365 users take part in more than 30 billion collaboration minutes. This is very helpful when creating a platform that flows with the daily rhythms of work. So, I was intrigued to learn more about Microsoft Viva and its capabilities.

Connecting employee experiences

Adult male inside using Microsoft Modern USB Headset. Microsoft Viva helps improve the employee experience.The promised land for employee experience technology is a platform that helps people to effortlessly connect to the things that help them to be successful in life and work. That’s the bottom-line. Indeed, it’s the only line that matters when thinking about productivity, performance, and wellbeing. If the technology in a business is not directly helping people to deliver their best work and live their best life, then we do really need to question buying decisions.

Focussed and decisive companies are the one’s that win in the market  – it’s the same with the employee experience. I talk about this in my book, Employee Experience. At the heart of the holistic employee experience (HEX), is the Truth – a company’s purpose, mission, and values. Technology platforms are there to enable and reinforce this Truth for each unique brand every day and in every way. If a company’s technology is clunky, cumbersome, or a chore to use, this will not contribute to a positive experience in work. In fact, quite the opposite will happen, and it will seriously hinder progress.

That’s why the scale and scope of the connectivity across the Microsoft ecosystem is as exciting as it is powerful. The full power of Microsoft 365 is behind Viva, which brings together a variety of mission critical elements including communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights. The initial start point for the platform includes Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics.

A joined up employee experience platform

Historically, there’s no doubt that employee experience technology within companies has not been joined up in any meaningful way. Microsoft Viva offers an answer to this. It will be interesting to see how it develops to add even more value across the holistic employee experience in the future. The platform itself is feature rich and covers many important aspects of organisational life.

  • Viva Connections: Empowers people to communicate, access curated and branded content, and access a personalised feed of relevant information.
  • Viva Insights: Access privacy-protected analytics, data, and insights that support wellbeing and allow people to focus on the things that matter most to them.
  • Viva Learning: A powerhouse for experiences that educate, train, and develop people. The combination of LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and an organisation’s own content is potent. Additionally, the integration of other leading learning providers makes this is a rich and diverse learning environment.
  • Viva Topics: An AI-powered organisational wiki that gives relevant company information to people fast.

Personalised the employee experience

Female developer smiling at camera, wearing a hijab at her desk. Employee experiences are designed to empower everyone.Building on the strong foundations of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, this new platform feels like a natural step to take. It creates a more seamless integration between both Microsoft and third-party technology. The big emphasis here is a much more personalised approach. Microsoft Viva can enable people to curate and connect to experiences that make a difference to their work at any given moment.

What this means for the future of work

The last year has created gaps between people and companies. Collectively, we need to keep pushing boundaries around what is possible in the digital space. However, keep in mind that humans drive technology. Organisations that have strengthened relationships with their people during this challenging period have fully embraced and supported the human experience in all that they do.

If we’re talking about an employee experience platform, companies need to think more holistically about the quality of the experiences people have within and beyond work. Leveraging human-centered and experience-driven technology is always a wise move that has the potential to make a powerful impact on the experience of work. Microsoft Viva offers a glimpse of the future that we’re all now co-creating. I’ll be watching its development with a keen eye like everyone else who has an interest in helping people thrive at work.

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About the author

Ben, a person wearing a suit and tieBen is described as the world’s ‘Mr Employee Experience’ and works at the forefront of the employee experience movement. Ben’s mission is to create organisations where people belong, find meaning, and co-create astonishing human achievements. In 2021, Thinkers50 recognised Ben as one of the world’s top management thinkers in 2021. Global Gurus also recognised him as one of the top 30 global speakers on the topic of organisational culture. The BBC, The Times, The Economist, The Telegraph, The Financial Times and Forbes have featured Ben’s research and work.

Human experience at work book imageBen regularly advises and works with world-leading organisations exclusively focussing on the employee experience. He is the founder and CEO of the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI)- an independent employee experience company, the CEO at HEX Organization and best-selling author of Employee Experience. Ben and his team help colleagues, companies, and audiences to develop their holistic, human-centred, and experience-driven approach to deliver exceptional business and human outcomes. Ben’s new book, Human Experience at Work was published on May 3rd 2021.