WFH boom makes ‘employee experience’ a C-suite priority, says Microsoft Viva chief

After a year of dealing with pandemic-related issues, C-suite leaders now find themselves focused on the “employee experience,” according to Chuck Friedman, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of the company’s new Viva platform.

Microsoft Viva, which the company highlighted at this year’s Ignite event, is designed to provide digital tools to support remote workers. Unveiled last month, it is an employee experience platform (EXP), with four modules focused on employee engagement, well-being, learning, and knowledge.

Though interest in employee experience had been on the rise, said Friedman, it took off last year as businesses switched to a largely remote-work model and had to deal with issues such as access to online training and development, maintaining company culture, and even avoiding burnout.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down offices worldwide, “suddenly we moved from a workplace [where] people could be next to each other to a remote workplace where the demand for these things moved to digital,” Friedman said. “All of these things starting to come together…,” leading to Viva.


Chuck Friedman, Microsoft vice president in charge of Viva.

As with all areas of digital transformation, the need to deal with remote workforce issues — everything from HR applications to workforce analytics and employee engagement — boomed during the pandemic, said Raul Castanon, a senior research analyst at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

About four out of five businesses (78%) see supporting remote workers as a challenge over the next two years, according to 451, with employee experience issues — such as work-life balance, access to technology, team morale, and employee retention — among top concerns.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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