Viva Insights is a newly launched feature in Microsoft 365. It is part of Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform which is intended to help make people’s experience with business technology more enirching. During our recent webinar introducing Microsoft Viva, MVP Eric Overfield provided his views on the purpose and benefits of Viva Insights.
This blog is the fifth and final article in our series exploring the different features of Microsoft Viva - to learn about the other features, read about:
So why do we need Viva Insights, what exactly is it, and how does it work?
Why do we need Viva insights?
Workers are not machines. This might seem an obvious statement, yet for a long time business technology has largely ignored this fact. Whether it’s your email, CRM or even a spreadsheet, IT tools are designed with an exclusive focus on productivity. They’re about helping people do work as efficiently as possible.
Of course, helping people do tasks productively is a good thing. But the problem is that most business IT platforms allow you to keep on working as long as you possibly can. However, the fact is that human beings need to stop and sleep sometimes! Especially in the era of remote working where it is easier than ever for people to stay connected to their enterprise productivity platforms, there is a real risk of people burning out.
Viva Insights is therefore designed to provide both individuals and organizations with an idea of how people are doing at work. It comes with a variety of features that help monitor wellbeing in different ways, and then offer recommendations to improve it.
And this isn't just about caring for employees because it’s the right thing to do. Research shows that companies that prioritize their employees’ wellbeing are up to 25% more profitable than those that don't.
How does Viva Insights support employee wellbeing?
In the webinar, Eric explained that Viva Insights will work at two levels - for the individual and for the management team. Let's look at each of these in more detail.
1. Viva insights for individuals
When you turn Viva Insights on, individual employees will begin to notice a number of features which aim to enhance their personal wellbeing. These include:
- Focus time: Viva Insights will allow the individual to block out focus time in their diary. They will not be disturbed by alerts and notifications, and the time will be blocked out in their calendar too - so they cannot be invited to meetings . Instead, they can use those hours for quality thinking and creativity.
- Personal insights: Viva will begin to learn about the individual and help them understand their own workday better. It will use artificial intelligence to provide a picture of how they use their time - in terms of things like writing emails, hours spent on tasks or time in meetings. This can help them understand how they are managing their own days, and perhaps make decisions about what they want to change.
- Recommendations: Viva Insights will also begin to make personal recommendations to the individual to support their productivity. For example, it might notice you are working on one specific project, and therefore provide suggestions for documents you could read around this topic.
- Wellbeing focus: Microsoft have built in a number of features to encourage employee wellbeing. This includes things like quick daily surveys about the person’s mood, as well as providing access to mindfulness meditation apps. Viva Insights also includes a daily ‘wrap up’ feature that helps users visualize what they’ve achieved each day, mentally prepare for meetings they have tomorrow and mindfully disconnect from the office.
On the individual level, Viva Insights is about helping workers help themselves. Features are designed to enhance wellbeing and, in the long run, give them greater satisfaction in their jobs.
This is a very forward-thinking innovation from Microsoft. In the past employee wellbeing was almost exclusively the domain of HR teams and management. But with Viva Insights, Microsoft has effectively started to ‘bake’ wellbeing concepts right into productivity software. This will make employee wellbeing initiatives become more pervasive and lead to happier, healthier teams.
2. Viva Insights for management
For managers, Viva Insights will also help to provide information about how people are doing at the organizational level. Features include:
- Team cohesion: With Viva Insights, managers will be able to monitor team cohesion by viewing collaboration and interconnection metrics. Insights can track how frequently members of a team are speaking with one another, which can help you get a better idea of the level of collaboration across the organization.
- Wellbeing factors: Viva Insights is also able to aggregate individual wellbeing metrics and expand this up to the organizational level. Managers will, for example, be able to see how many employees are working after hours. This tells you if people are at risk of burning out.
- Identify risk factors: Viva Insights also helps to identify possible risks and provide recommendations on how you can manage teams better. For example, if many of your employees are spending a significant proportion of their time in large, lengthy meetings, this could dampen overall productivity. You might use this insight to consider alternative ways of running meetings.
For management teams, Viva Insights is a really interesting concept which will help boost your efforts to improve employee wellbeing. Right now Insights for management is only really applicable in large organizations since large amounts of activity and data are needed to train the underlying AI. Over time, it could become more applicable in smaller businesses too.
A note on privacy in Viva Insights
During the webinar, Eric highlighted how privacy is core to the platform. For individuals, interaction with the platform will only be visible to them - their managers will never be able to see how they are feeling or 'spy' on their productivity.
The data that managers see is aggregated and de-identified across the whole organization. That means business leaders can see trends, but cannot dig down into individual employee behavior.
Viva Insights - costs and availability
Eric explained that for individuals, personal insights will be free of charge and included in all license subscriptions from E3 and above. Personal insights are already available to use everywhere.
For management insights, Microsoft have not yet explained precisely how much they will charge, but it is believed that it will cost somewhere between $4 and $6 per user per month.
Eric's predictions for the future of Viva Insights
During the webinar, Eric made a number of predictions about how Viva Insights might evolve in future:
- Privacy will remain respected - Microsoft have made it very clear that private information will never be shared with managers
- Viva Insights will blend together with the preexisting MyAnalytics – a feature that is already available in Microsoft 365
- While the current feature list for management Insights is relatively limited, Eric explained that the feature road map is very rich going forward
A unique approach to wellbeing
Viva Insights is a truly groundbreaking way of thinking about business productivity technology. By building wellbeing features directly into the apps and tools people use every day, Microsoft is making it more likely that employees will remain engaged, happy and healthy. That’s a truly bold and innovative strategy, and one which will surely benefit the organizations that use Microsoft Viva.