On Thursday, Microsoft released a Work Trend Index Pulse Report, “Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?” The company also announced new capabilities in Microsoft Viva, its employee experience platform, designed to help empower and energize employees in a time of economic uncertainty.

The data makes clear that hybrid work has created a growing disconnect between employees and leaders. They’re at odds about what constitutes productivity, how to maintain autonomy while ensuring accountability, the benefits of flexibility and the role of the office. To bridge this gap, a new approach is needed that recognizes work is no longer just a place but an experience that needs to transcend time and space so employees can stay engaged and connected no matter where they are working.

“Thriving employees are what will give organizations a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic economic environment,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “Today, we’re announcing new innovations across our employee experience platform Microsoft Viva to help leaders end productivity paranoia, rebuild social capital and re-recruit and re-energize their employees.”

The Work Trend Index Pulse Report helps leaders navigate the new realities of hybrid work. It is based on an external study of 20,000 people in 11 countries including five markets in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC). It also draws on analysis of trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals, LinkedIn labor trends and Glint People Science insights. It points to three urgent pivots every leader should make:

  1. End productivity paranoia: In APAC, 83% of employees report they are productive at work, but 89% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that their employees are being productive. Leaders need to create clarity and alignment around company goals, eliminate busywork that doesn’t support those goals and listen to their people. 58% of companies are rarely, if ever, collecting employee feedback.
  2. Embrace that people come in for each other: 76% of employees in APAC say they need a better reason to go into the office than company expectations, but they would be motivated to go in if they could socialize with co-workers (83%) or rebuild team bonds (83%). Digital communication will be crucial to keep people connected inside and outside of the office. Both employees and leaders rank communication as the most critical skill needed to be successful in their roles this year.
  3. Re-skill to re-recruit your employees: 59% of employees in APAC say the best way to develop their skills is to change companies. However, they also say they would stay longer at their company if it was easier to change jobs internally (72%) or if they could benefit more from learning and development support (78%).

To address these challenges, Microsoft is expanding its employee experience platform Microsoft Viva to help companies deliver an employee experience optimized for the way people now work. Today, Microsoft is announcing several new and enhanced capabilities coming to Viva:

  • Viva Pulse is a new app that will enable managers and team leads to seek regular and confidential feedback on their team’s experience. Viva Pulse uses smart templates and research-backed questions to help managers pinpoint what’s working well and where to focus. It also provides suggested learning and actions to address team needs.
  • Viva Amplify is a new app that will empower leaders and communicators to elevate their message and reach employees where they are with consistency and impact. The app centralizes communications campaigns, offers writing guidance to improve message resonance, enables publishing across multiple channels and distribution groups in Microsoft 365 and provides metrics for improvement.
  • Answers in Viva is a new capability that will use AI to match employee questions to answers and experts across the organization to help put collective knowledge to work for all employees.
  • People in Viva is a new capability that will use AI to create rich profile cards with details on an employee’s interests, knowledge and team goals to help colleagues easily discover connections, experts and insights across the organization. These insights will be available through Microsoft 365 profile cards and as a new app.
  • Microsoft recently launched Viva Engage, which fosters digital community building through conversations and self-expression tools with stories and storylines. Leadership Corner is coming to Viva Engage as a space to invite employees to interact directly with leadership, share ideas and perspectives, participate in organization initiatives and more.
  • Viva Goals helps organizations align employee work to business outcomes. New integrations in Viva Goals will bring goals into the flow of work including a richer integration with Microsoft Teams to check in on Objectives and Key Results. OKRs, an extension in Azure DevOps to complete work items, a connection to Power BI datasets to track KPIs and Key Results and integrations with Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project for automatic project management updates.
  • Enhanced integrations between Viva Learning and LinkedIn Learning will make it even easier for people to access content from LinkedIn Learning Hub right in the flow of work in Teams. Learners will see all their LinkedIn Learning Hub content synced, including custom content, curated learning paths and the courses they have already completed, all reflected directly within Viva. And administrators will be able to set the integration up directly within their settings on LinkedIn Learning Hub — no APIs needed.
  • Viva Sales, the first role-based experience app in the platform, will be generally available Oct. 3. Viva Sales brings together a seller’s CRM with Microsoft 365 and Teams to provide a more streamlined and AI-powered selling experience — right in the tools they’re using every day to connect with customers and close deals. Microsoft is announcing a partnership with Seismic to personalize and scale customer engagements through AI-generated content recommendations.
  • To streamline access to Viva and help employees start their day on track, a new home experience in Viva Connections will bring all the Viva apps together in one place, and updates to the Viva briefing email will provide more personalized productivity recommendations to help employees catch up on work, meetings and learning.

The new Viva capabilities will begin rolling out to customers in early 2023.

To learn more, visit the Official Microsoft BlogMicrosoft 365 Blog and the new Work Trend Index Pulse report.

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