How to make Microsoft Viva the centre of your digital workplace

Microsoft Viva – the employee experience platform launched by Microsoft in 2021 – has been receiving huge levels of interest from intranet, digital workplace and internal comms teams since its release. As adoption continues to rise, we decided to hold a webinar about placing Microsoft Viva at the centre of your digital workplace to deliver a more seamless digital employee experience.

In the session, which you can watch in full below, Content Formula’s Alex Yeomans, John Scott and Joe Perry explored issues including:

  • What Microsoft Viva does
  • The ins and outs of the Viva apps
  • How to use Viva Connections to integrate with other systems
  • What else you should consider when implementing Viva.

In this post, we’re going to explore some of the key takeaways from what proved to be a highly valuable deep dive into Microsoft Viva.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is a collection of apps that are generally viewed through Microsoft Teams, although some features of Viva Connections can be embedded as web parts into SharePoint. The apps focus on four different areas of employee experience:

  • Viva Connections: A gateway to internal communications and company resources
  • Viva Insights: Personalised analytics and related insights for individuals, managers and leaders that support well-being, collaboration, productivity and more
  • Viva Learning: A learning hub that aggregates learning resources from a variety of different systems and sources
  • Viva Topics: A knowledge discovery platform that uses AI to source resources and experts on different topics.

Here, we share some of the insights from the webinar.

1 Most people are in the early stages of their Viva journey

At the beginning of the webinar, the panel emphasised that Microsoft Viva is very new. Unsurprisingly, a quick poll of the participants revealed that most people are at a very early stage of their Viva journey, either experimenting or still investigating how it can be used. Even though Viva has been around for over a year, it is still evolving, and has only evolved to deliver value relatively recently as more integrations have emerged. The team expects this to accelerate as more and more organisations adopt Microsoft Viva this year and in future, and as Microsoft continues to invest in the platform.

2 Viva Learning helps to deliver learning in the flow of work… but it’s not an LMS

All too often, learning content is hidden away in different systems and repositories, such as a Learning Management System (LMS), a SharePoint library or a third-party solution. This means valuable content is often missed, and learning systems are poorly adopted. Viva Learning helps remedy this by delivering a discovery platform for learning content, surfacing resources from multiple places including your LMS, SharePoint and more right into Microsoft Teams, where people often spend their working day.

The solution leverages AI to recommend relevant course content to users based on the Office Graph, and managers can assign learning and colleagues recommend courses while a personalised dashboard facilitates easier access. Learning content also appears in Microsoft Search.

It is worth noting that Viva Learning is not an LMS; there isn’t any core functionality that you might find in a system like LMS365 such as e-learning, certification, employee attestation, learning journeys and sophisticated reporting. Organisations will need to have an LMS like LMS365 and subscriptions with learning providers to get the best out of the app, with Viva Learning principally acting as an aggregator.

3 Viva Topics is supporting knowledge management

Viva Topics is another app which helps to support knowledge management, using AI to bring together wiki-like pages on different topics and surfacing relevant resources, including SharePoint files and lists of recognised experts. For example, Content Formula is working with a house-building firm on implementing Viva Topics, and they have a topic page dedicated to loft installations, with a list of valuable AI-driven resources that can also be curated by a subject matter expert approving the AI suggestions. New relevant topic pages are suggested by AI, but can also be created manually to cover things like clients, projects, services and places.

Viva Topics pages are represented by cards that can be referenced in a Teams discussion and also appear in search.

4 Viva Insights delivers personal analytics and insights while acting like a virtual assistant

Viva Insights provides a personal dashboard of analytics about work habits, shining a light on wellbeing, productivity and collaboration. These are derived from Microsoft Graph and your interactions with Office 365, revealing things such as your overall working hours, time spent in meetings, focus time and more.

Viva Insights also uses AI to monitor your interactions across Teams, Yammer and Outlook and make suggestions about the need to follow up on meetings and emails, for example. This is already delivered in the Viva-branded emails that most of us receive, and is like a “virtual assistant” nudging you to follow up on actions. If you pay for an upgrade, managers can see analytics and insights based on their team’s actions, such as their overall time spent in meetings.

5 Viva Connections brings your intranet into Teams

Microsoft 365 is a complex and broad platform that contains multiple tools and channels. Viva Connections is a connector that consolidates content and information from some of these sources and displays them in Teams, although it can also be surfaced in SharePoint.

One way Viva Connections is commonly used is as a way to effectively view your SharePoint intranet through Teams, meaning users don’t have to leave the Teams environment to see intranet communications and content. In the webinar, we saw an example of how Entain’s intranet is viewed through Viva Connections; in organisations where Teams has high usage, this is a great way to facilitate easier intranet access.

6 The Viva Connections dashboard helps users complete tasks across the digital workplace

One of the most valuable features in the entire Viva platform is the Viva Connections Dashboard. This helps you create a dashboard of personalised cards from other Microsoft tools, non-Microsoft apps and third-party websites to provide information, updates and nudges which help users complete tasks and keep on top of their work. It can be viewed through Microsoft Teams or within a SharePoint page – usually the intranet homepage or equivalent. This can help make Connections and your intranet not just a communications hub, but a comprehensive digital workplace tool too.

In the webinar, there was a demo of the dashboard that showed the kind of information it can display, including:

  • How much annual leave remains
  • The current valuation of a pension
  • Live data from share prices
  • The travel status of buses or trains
  • A map of how to get somewhere
  • A view of upcoming meetings
  • A display of praise received through Yammer.

The dashboard can also provide access to tasks including check-ins for office visits and manager approvals for travel expenses.

Joe explained that each card is personalised, and can be targeted to different groups. One of the great things about the dashboard is that it leverages a low-code, no-code approach, making it easy for administrators to create and preview new cards. They can also utilise out-of-the-box integrations with enterprise systems like Workday and ServiceNow to deliver cards for high-value use cases like requesting time off or raising helpdesk tickets.

7 There are several elements to consider when deploying Microsoft Viva Connections

Finally, the team ran through some of the key factors that digital workplace teams need to consider before deploying Viva Connections:

  • A SharePoint home site and SharePoint global navigation are required to launch Viva Connections
  • Third-party integrations add value, and Microsoft has more coming soon
  • Multi-lingual dashboards have been released – attractive for larger, global organisations
  • If you’re launching Viva Connections, you can now add a custom name and logo in the navigation to align with your intranet branding
  • Viva Connections is free, but the full functionality of the other apps comes at an additional cost.

Want to know more about Microsoft Viva? Get in touch!

We’re working with several clients on Viva-related projects. If you’re considering deploying Microsoft Viva and have any questions, then get in touch!

How to drive Office 365 adoption and change management

Adoption and change management (ACM) is a big-ticket item for any team involved in launching Office 365 or Microsoft 365, as well as constituent tools such as a SharePoint intranet, Yammer, Teams, Viva and OneDrive. Microsoft 365 is a strategic platform that is designed to be used every day at scale, so you want to make sure as many employees as possible are using it in a way that drives value.

Good levels of adoption can never be assumed – they don’t just happen on their own. Change management efforts are needed to influence both the hearts and minds of busy employees so they know how, when and why to use the new digital workplace tools at their fingertips. It’s worth noting that “adoption” is not just about getting higher numbers of active users, but also about using tools in the best way possible to drive productivity and achieve positive outcomes. All your employees using 365 tools, but in less-than-ideal ways, does not amount to good adoption.

In this post, we’re going to explore why ACM is so important for the Microsoft 365 digital workplace, some of the associated challenges and the elements that need to be in place for a successful ACM programme.

Why is good Office 365 adoption so important?

There are several reasons why adoption of the 365 platform and its tools is critical.

Supporting your ROI

Office 365 is a significant strategic investment, designed for adoption at scale. The benefits will not be fully unlocked without good levels of adoption, and you need an active ACM initiative to achieve ROI.

Productivity and efficiency

365 tools are designed to transform both employee and team productivity, improving efficiency across multiple processes. The higher the adoption levels, the more opportunities there are to derive productivity benefits across your organisation.

Communication and collaboration

Teams, Yammer and SharePoint can revolutionise communication around companies, as well as transform collaboration across different locations. Good levels of adoption lead to flows of information and knowledge that are critical for remaining competitive, allowing everybody in the company to work together effectively.

Enables remote and hybrid working

The age of hybrid work is here. Good adoption of 365 tools is critical when navigating the challenges of remote and hybrid working.

High profile use cases

A range of high-profile use cases rely on good adoption of 365 tools, such as internal communications that reach a high number of staff.

Advancing the digital workplace

When you have good adoption levels across your digital workplace, this increases your workforce’s confidence in using digital tools, in turn providing an excellent base from which evolve your landscape by adding more 365 tools to deliver additional value.

What are the challenges around adoption, and how does change management help?

Challenges can emerge when trying to reach adoption levels and usage patterns that really drive value. Here, change management efforts are essential to achieve the adoption levels your leaders want.

Employees are very busy and suffer from change fatigue

The majority of employees are very busy, and are constantly being bombarded with messages. They may also have developed change fatigue, what with the continual roll-out of initiatives and tools. You need strong messaging with clear benefits to really capture the attention of employees, persuading them to invest the time and cognitive effort required to adopt a new tool.

Employees can be reluctant and resistant to change

Many of us can be both reluctant and resistant to change. Doing things differently requires effort and potential learning curves. Change can even seem threatening, and some employees are particularly resistant to adopting new technology. In fact, in the famous adoption curve popularised by Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations, 16% of users are usually classified as “laggards”.

Efforts wane over time and change lacks reinforcement

Employees often start with good intentions, but adoption can wane over time and employees fall back into old habits. A lack of both reinforcement in messaging and opportunities to use the tools can mean that adoption is not truly embedded and is vulnerable to diminishing.

Employees get the how, but not the why

Employees might be able to use tools and have had the benefits explained to them, but that doesn’t always mean they are convinced to change their behaviours. Sometimes, employees need to have the “why” illustrated for them to understand what’s in it for them.

Usage is not advanced

Tools might have high numbers of active users – Microsoft Team, for example – but how they are being used may not be advanced or even optimal. Often, employees need specific training on how to use Microsoft 365 in more sophisticated or advanced ways, such as using whiteboarding in Microsoft Teams.

Top-down approach when you also need bottom-up

Some employees aren’t swayed by top-down messaging that comes from the centre about using new digital tools. This might be because these central communications are not viewed as relevant to their particular function, location or role, or there might be an inherent mistrust of messaging from the central IT function. Here, a bottom-up approach which involves endorsement from peers and local champions can be essential in driving adoption.

It’s hard to keep up with 365

365 is a very extensive platform, and Microsoft is continually investing in new tools like Microsoft Viva, as well as extending the capabilities of the existing suite. It can be very hard for employees to keep up with new tools and features, as well as smaller changes to the UI.

ACM is not always budgeted for

A practical reason why ACM efforts can sometimes fail is that there is simply not enough budget left over for it. Leaders tend to underestimate the costs needed for large digital projects, or other elements of the project end up eating into the ACM budget.

What are the essential elements needed for adoption and change management?

There are various elements that need to be in place for a successful ACM programme that delivers lasting adoption and embeds change.

Putting employees at the centre, not technology

Change and adoption is about people, not technology. The digital workplace or 365 tool that you are expecting people to use must be people-centred, with a good user experience and no technology-related barriers to use. Any adoption campaign must also put people at the centre and be targeted around their needs.

Understanding employees and their pain points

A thorough understanding of employees and their pain points, conducted through user and stakeholder research, is important to not only shape the tools they use, but also design an impactful ACM campaign. For example, focusing on use cases which resonate with particular groups can illustrate the value of using a particular tool.

Training and support

Usually, there will be some kind of training involved in change management, whether for champions, super-users, site admins, content publishers or even on a “train the trainers” basis. Training is not necessarily required for users, but some ongoing support whereby they can ask questions might be, alongside making self-serve resources available.

Measurement

Measurement is an important part of adoption and change management. You need to apply the right measures and metrics to know whether adoption and usage is reaching required levels, and to subsequently target additional interventions and communications if they are not. Measurement also needs to be sustained as adoption patterns change over time.

Top-down and bottom-up communications

Generally, a good ACM plan will incorporate both top-down communications from senior leaders to show a tool is endorsed and is a company priority, and bottom-up communications from peers and champions that are more likely to resonate with different locations and groups.

 A formal plan

Having a formal ACM plan (and related communications plan) that all stakeholders buy into is critical in order to execute successful 365 adoption and change management. This ensures you can co-ordinate efforts across different stakeholders and communication channels, but also change the focus over time as adoption and behaviours evolve. At Content Formula, we use the ADKAR change model as a basis for our planning, a popular framework with five stages – Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Microsoft also advocates for the use of ADKAR.

Targeting efforts

It’s important to target your ACM effort to different groups. We advise using key personas to maximise the impact of messaging.

Engaging communications

Successful ACM initiatives rely on good communications. These need to be engaging to stand out and have an impact. Use of video, imaginative assets and relevant, targeted copy can all make a difference.

Announcing Content Formula’s new Adoption and Change Management (ACM) service

We know how important ACM is, and we often work with clients to design successful change management programmes that lead to successful and sustainable launches of Office 365, Teams, Yammer, Viva or a SharePoint intranet.

Our new ACM service covers everything you need in order to embed change in the best possible way and drive secure transformation, supporting users and leading them successfully through change.

As noted, our ACM approach is based around the highly regarded ADKAR framework:

  • Awareness: Announce and explain the change, involving employees
  • Desire: Get employees ready for the change, overcome any fears and build momentum
  • Knowledge: Drive confidence through training, demos and champions
  • Ability: Get employees used to using new tools through practice, training, coaching and feedback
  • Reinforcement: Provide recognition and incentives to embed the change, along with ongoing support.

What to expect

Our ACM package includes a number of phases and deliverables:

ACM-led discovery

We will begin by gaining an understanding of employees’ approach to change, communications and training, as well as levels of stakeholder/champion engagement to date. We will do this through a general change workshop, a stakeholder workshop and user interviews, followed by a playback of our discovery findings to the project team.

Strategy and change planning

Based on our findings, we will shape a strategy and roadmap that includes tactics for effective communications, training and support.

Communications

Following on from planning, we will deliver communications which directly address user pain points, along with core desires to build a campaign that is engaging, effective and informative. Assets can include digital posters, GIFs, intranet articles, lock screen graphics and videos.

Training

Our training will be tailored to the audience. We will get to know employees’ wants and needs, and deliver training that addresses these. This can include training support materials and videos, carrying out champion training, content owner support and even a Q&A chatbot.

Post-launch support

The change effort will not stop on launch day. Our ACM includes a pot of days to be used when required for strategic support/coaching, as well as reinforcement activities up to six months post-launch to ensure continued adoption.

 

Need support with 365 adoption? Get in touch!

Adoption and change management is critical. If you need help, want to discuss your ACM strategy and approach or are interested in our new ACM service, then get in touch!

7 ways to use SharePoint to support employee onboarding

An important use case for any digital workplace or employee experience platform is employee onboarding. When a new hire first joins a company, there are lots of forms to complete, team members to meet and information to absorb. A successful onboarding initiative helps make that process for new joiners more efficient, less overwhelming and as welcoming as possible. Typically, an onboarding programme might continue from when a person is hired through their first 90 days or so, but can last longer, even sometimes extending up to a year.

Employee onboarding is an important element of employee experience. Critically, there are a plethora of statistics that show a successful onboarding programme can significantly reduce employee turnover and support talent retention.

Over the last few years, there has been more and more attention paid to how the digital workplace supports onboarding. Since the pandemic, the digital side of employee onboarding has become even more important as companies have been forced to design virtual onboarding programmes during lockdown. Thankfully, SharePoint, with some additional integrations from across Microsoft 365, can support employee onboarding in several ways. Let’s explore seven of these.

1 Provide a secure SharePoint site before day one

When a person first confirms that they are accepting a position, there is often a lot of paperwork they must complete before their first day, as well as information to provide and reading to do. Completing this before their first day usually helps get everything prepared, including setting them up on different systems, ordering IT equipment and so on. It can also allow them to learn about the company and even meet their new colleagues.

Creating a secure SharePoint site that new hires can access before their first day is a great way to provide all the necessary information and documents, as well as create all the forms they need to complete. The latter can use embedded Microsoft Forms with workflows from Power Automate to help IT and HR functions complete all the pre-first day tasks. A specific, secure SharePoint site can prove to be far more efficient than using email and helps a new hire make a flying start when they join, rather than spending the first day filling out forms and reading documentation.

2 Create a hub for your new hires on your SharePoint intranet

A SharePoint intranet often contains valuable information that new hires need to know regarding the company and its processes, its strategy and values, tools and apps, how to get things done and so on. Intranet teams often choose to create a new hire hub which highlights all the content that is valuable for a new starter, as well as adding specific resources for the new starter community. This might include checklists of things employees need to do, a welcome video from the CEO or presentations which feature in onboarding and induction sessions. It might also display a calendar of all the milestones an employee needs to be aware of in their first 30 days.

A hub can also contain links to some of the elements mentioned below, including a task list, a Yammer community, policies and learning resources. Ideally, a new hire hub should have web parts that are targeted and personalised to ensure resources and links are relevant to the individual and their location, department and role.

3 Build a custom set of personalised tasks with automation and workflow

When new starters join a company, there are a lot of tasks to complete, including forms to fill out, policies to read, learning to complete and courses to attend. Aggregating all these tasks into a targeted list can be extremely helpful in making sure the new starter keeps on top of what they need to do. Creating a set of personalised tasks that appears in your SharePoint intranet can be done through customised development, taking advantage of Power Automate to deliver the right workflows. Building this into your intranet homepage can also ensure they are front of mind for the new starter.

4 Get mandatory reads on your policies

When a person joins a company, there is often a lot of reading to get through, some of which might be mandatory. They may need to read a professional conduct policy, an IT policy, a social media usage policy and a range of other HR policies. There may also be some mandatory risk compliance procedures they need to read and digest, and which managers or HR functions need to monitor to ensure they have been read and digested. SharePoint can help with both disseminating information and monitoring mandatory reads.

You can use SharePoint document libraries to distribute companywide policies that need to be read, and also add some personalisation, customised development, Power Automate flows and Power BI reporting to create a targeted mandatory reads capability where the new starter confirms they have read a particular policy. A team manager or HR function can then monitor completion through reporting. This mandatory reads feature is so popular that we created it within our Xoralia policy management solution for SharePoint.

5 Create learning for employee onboarding using LMS365

Learning is usually a huge part of the onboarding experience. As part of the induction process, a new starter may need to take a series of courses or training programmes so they can settle into life at their new company and carry out their role. Some of this learning is likely to be mandatory. Typically, it may include:

  • An introduction to the company, its strategy and core processes
  • Health and safety
  • How to use technology platforms
  • Specific role-based training, often technical or specialist in nature
  • Mandatory compliance training across different areas.

The best way to incorporate learning directly into your SharePoint environment is to use a learning platform like LMS365; this integrates seamlessly with SharePoint and Microsoft 365 because it’s based on SharePoint itself. Some organisations choose to put a SharePoint page or site ahead of LMS365 in order to create a compelling entry point into the system or make it part of their intranet experience (most employees might not even be aware they are entering a different system). Given its power, many teams have established a whole onboarding programme within LMS365.

6 Create a new hire community

Meeting people and networking helps new employees settle quickly. Creating a community for new starters is a strong element for any onboarding programme, and is a good way to engage new starters. New hires can support each other, as well as connect with HR and other support functions to ask questions. With SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365, a Yammer community with an embedded feed in your new hire area on the intranet can work very well, although some organisations might prefer to use Teams for community interaction.

7 Get feedback on your employee onboarding programme

An important method of improving your employee onboarding programme is to make sure you ask for feedback from the new hires who have just gone through it. Getting specific feedback and input can help identify issues that need fixing, highlight elements that are working well and elicit ideas for improvements.

There are multiple ways to get feedback using SharePoint. You could embed a Microsoft form to ask specific questions or seek more detailed feedback, or you could embed a Yammer community on a SharePoint page to generate a discussion. You can also use SharePoint commenting to generate comments and ideas. However you do it, getting feedback can make all the difference, and sends a positive message that feedback from users is valued.

Designing employee onboarding using SharePoint

Employee onboarding is a key process in employee experience, and can make a tangible contribution to talent retention. SharePoint is a strong foundational technology to design onboarding experiences and deliver related content and features. If you’d like to discuss using SharePoint for your employee onboarding programme, then get in touch!

15 intranet content ideas that support employee engagement

Modern intranets have many objectives. They help employees get things done productively and support a good employee experience. They deliver internal communications so employees stay informed and up-to-date. They provide access to content and information to help people carry out their role. They facilitate collaboration and provide access to knowledge and learning. And they reflect and nurture organisational culture and support employee engagement.

Employee engagement itself is a complex subject that often gets caught up in debates around definitions and measurement. There are also multiple factors which impact engagement. Intranets can successfully support employee engagement in several ways, including:

  • Reflecting and amplifying the positive aspects of organisational culture
  • Celebrating and recognising company, team and employee successes
  • Providing more information about company values, missions and purpose
  • Giving employees a voice and providing a platform for listening and dialogue
  • Establishing effective communications for senior leaders
  • Connecting employees and driving a sense of community across an organisation
  • Supporting personal development and career growth
  • Amplifying a one company identity and brand.

More specifically, there are numerous content ideas that support engagement and help make a company a great place to work. Let’s explore 15 intranet content types and features that support employee engagement.

  1. Feedback polls

Using polls on an intranet is an excellent way to get a snapshot of employee sentiment on different topics. It can also drive intranet adoption through adding a light-hearted feature to the intranet homepage, especially if visitors can see the results once they’ve voted. Intranet polls play their part in driving employee engagement by making employees feel they are listened to, thereby supporting an open and relaxed organisational culture.

  1. Customer success stories

Customer success stories are a staple of external-facing websites, but are not always featured on intranets. Success stories help to celebrate overall company success as well as individual team and employee contributions, and reinforce the message that employees make a difference, adding context to everyday actions.

  1. Examples of living the values

Most companies have values or a mission statement. Let’s be honest, these can be pretty generic and are not always taken seriously by employees. News items or stories that actually provide examples of how an organisation is living its values and putting them into action are more likely to resonate than something more general and woollier. Content that helps an employee feel proud to be working at the company is going to support employee engagement.

  1. Shout-outs and thankyous from peers

Peer-to-peer recognition is a strong way to celebrate individual achievements, generating a positive culture and sense of community. This is often done through shout-outs and thankyous from individuals to their colleagues, recognising contributions that reflect organisational values or instances where people have gone the extra mile. There are dedicated peer recognition solutions, but praise and shout-outs can also be delivered very successfully through social platforms like Yammer. Surfacing these on your intranet homepage can support engagement and culture amplification initiatives.

  1. Employee blogs and photos

Having visible user-generated content on your intranet can raise adoption, but also demonstrates that the employee voice is valued, again underpinning engagement efforts. When you give everybody a voice, it sends out a strong message that opinions are valued. There are multiple ways to surface user-generated content on your intranet, but employee blogging is an excellent way to tick the box on engagement and generate lively content. Including photos submitted by employees even via a simple photo of the day feature can also be effective for engagement.

  1. Podcasts

Podcasts are currently a very popular content format which are increasingly being used inside enterprises. Podcasts on particular themes can be a highly effective way to deliver targeted content to specific audience segments, supporting wider employee engagement. Podcasts have the advantage of being popular across different demographics, including frontline employees.

  1. Authentic leadership comms

CEOs and other senior leaders have a major influence on employee engagement. Most intranets showcase leadership communications, but these can sometimes still come across as formal and corporate. Leadership communications that are more honest, personal, informal, authentic and even vulnerable, showing the real person behind the job title, are more likely to resonate with the workforce and better support employee engagement. During the pandemic, some CEOs started to communicate through informal videos shot at home which have been generally well-received, and which can work on the intranet too.

  1. Q&As with senior leaders

Another good way to drive transparency and open communication with senior leaders is to publish questions from employees with relative questions and answers, or hold Ask Me Anything sessions and publish the related recordings or discussion threads on the intranet. Again, the more open and less sanitised these Q&As are, the more likely it is they will engage employees.

Q&A

  1. Crowdsourcing input from employees

Modern intranets and social collaboration platforms provide opportunities for dialogue. Having two-way channels where employees are asked their opinion by senior management and, most importantly, where this results in action can positively influence employees feelings about their employer. Specifically, crowdsourcing input and feedback from employees to influence decision-making is key here; we’ve heard examples that range from the tactical (getting input on new uniforms for customer-facing staff) to the strategic (asking for input into new strategies). Surveys, polls, discussion threads and commenting can all be used to crowdsource employee input.

  1. Internal opportunities

High levels of internal talent mobility and opportunities for staff career paths are highly desirable for organisations, as they help retain the best talent and reduce recruitment costs. Advertising internal opportunities on your intranet, including new roles, secondments and training schemes, is a common way to drive awareness of these positions, as well as promoting employee engagement through demonstrating the opportunities for career growth available to employees.

  1. Access to learning

Employees ability to access resources that will help them in their personal development and career growth is an underrated source of employee engagement; it demonstrates an investment in and commitment to people. Being able to search and discover courses, learning material and training assets is a strong use case for any intranet. This is becoming increasingly possible with the tight integration between learning platforms like LMS365 and SharePoint intranets.

LMS365

  1. Health and wellbeing themed content

Health and wellbeing is a significant theme in employee experience, and demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to its employees. An intranet can support wellbeing in numerous ways, providing health & safety information, tips and tricks, factsheets, health-related communities and more.

  1. Events

An events calendar is a useful addition to any intranet homepage, especially if employees can register for specific events and add the details to their personal calendar a feature available in SharePoint Online. Event calendars also work very well to promote both learning through knowledge-based webinars, for example, and wellbeing sessions on topics like mindfulness.

Events

  1. Ideation platforms

Ideation platforms are highly mature, and are becoming a common part of the digital workplace landscape. They work by inviting employees to submit ideas usually on a particular theme or responding to a specific challenge with the ability to vote on the best ones. A company may then choose to take some of these ideas to fruition. A snapshot of the latest ideas submitted, as well as the ones that are being actioned, shows employee ideas are being taken seriously.

  1. Communities

Online communities on both work and non-work themes help drive connections and foster a real sense of community and engagement within your organisation. These can range from professional Communities of Practice, to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), to Communities of Interest on non-working themes. Whether a forum for discussing highly specialist engineering techniques or a place to swap cat videos, communities drive employee conversations and connections.

An intranet supports online communities in different ways; for example, your core intranet features may support communities or include feeds from a social platform like Yammer. A central directory of groups can also help users discover and join communities they are interested in.

Yammer

Engage your employees

Employee engagement is key, and the content and features you include on your intranet can make a real difference. If you’d like to discuss how you can use your intranet as part of your employee engagement strategy, then get in touch!

7 reasons to use SharePoint for policy management

Pushing out mandatory policies and tracking reads is perhaps the most requested feature in policy management. But before we get into that, let’s look at the other commonly requested features and examine how SharePoint (and Office 365) addresses these.

Having one source of truth for key policies, procedures, forms and other key organisational documents is important. Employees and managers need to regularly access information such as your staff handbook, IT usage policy, holiday request process, social media guideline or supplier due diligence checklist and more and be confident that these are accurate and up to date. In regulated industries such as financial services there can also be strict guidelines for interaction with customers or processes which must be followed to reduce risk.

Most organisations provide access to policies via their intranet but all too often these are:

  • Scattered across different department sites and are hard to find
  • Do not get updated with the very latest version
  • Simply do not get read, even if they are mandatory to read
  • Are not trusted by employees so they request a copy or rely on a version on their own file network or inbox, that may not be up to date.

Policy management is important. Not managing your policies and procedures carefully or making them easily available in one central place leads to risks for organisations and individual employees, as well as inefficiencies. Sometimes it can also be an requirement for industry regulators or other external third parties, and may even be the subject of an external audit.

Seven reasons why SharePoint policy management is the best approach

If your organisation is using Microsoft 365 or SharePoint on-premises, then it makes sense to leverage the power of SharePoint to help better manage your policy documents.

1 SharePoint is likely to be your existing and secure document management solution

If you use SharePoint or SharePoint Online, then that is likely to be at the root of how most people manage documents their documents and files in your organisation. Documents can be easily shared, collaborated on and there is also effective version control, meaning that you can avoid issues such as duplication and ensure there is one source of truth; this is a critical factor in manging your policies. Leveraging SharePoint for policy management also means that your existing users will be already familiar with the system in place used for managing documents. Of course, SharePoint will also be fully secure.

2 You can automate lifecycle management processes

Lifecycle management is absolutely key to successful policy management. For example, you need to make sure that policies have owners who regularly review the documents they are responsible for. SharePoint is excellent from this perspective and you can leverage its integration with Active Directory as well as Power Automate (Flow) to create clear ownership, notifications and workflow to ensure polices are kept up to date and also create views that show admins the status of policies.

3 You can get a complete audit trail

As well as lifecycle management you can also get a complete audit trail of updates to your document, showing when and by whom. This transparency is very important for minimising risks, underpinning accountability, and even for external auditing purposes.

4 You can easily provide access to all

It is critical to provide easy access to policies for your employees. As most organisations already use SharePoint for their intranet or for communication sites, it is easy to integrate a policy document library into the channels that employees already have access to.

5 You can integrate it into your search

Policies also need to be findable and discoverable. Again, most organisations are leaning in on SharePoint or Microsoft search options to allow employees to find what they need. Using SharePoint for policy management means that these documents will be included in your main search, perhaps through the intranet.

6 It can integrate with your wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem

If you are on Microsoft 365 you will likely be using a wide variety of different collaboration and communication tools such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and SharePoint team sites. The obvious integration between a SharePoint-based policy library and the rest of the Microsoft 365 platform means its easy to embed and share key policies from the library in the places where every day work happens.

7 You can track usage and get data

Using SharePoint for policy management means it is also possible to track usage and get data on different policies, for example numbers of views or when they were last updated. By leveraging integrations with Active Directory and PowerBI you can also start to create reports and track critical data such as whether a mandatory document is being read and by whom.

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But what about mandatory policies and tracking reads? Introducing Xoralia Policies

Overall, using SharePoint for policy management is the way to go. Having deployed many policies libraries on SharePoint and intranets over the years, we decided to combine all our knowledge into an app which can help customers fast track to a secure, user-centric and robust policy management library.

Xoralia Policies is a brand-new app designed, developed, and managed by Content Formula. It provides organisations using Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online a quick-to-deploy central policy library than can be accessed via a SharePoint-based intranet or SharePoint site. Xoralia Policies can also be installed by on-premises SharePoint customers.

The app is a simple but complete solution that provides:

  • Easy, central access to the latest version of organisational policy and procedure documents for all staff
  • Robust policy management with assigned content owners and regular reviews across different departments and functions
  • The ability to track the progress of mandatory reads for particular documents, as well as other useful analytics
  • All you need for auditing purposes.

How it works

In a nutshell, Xoralia Policies works in five simple steps.

Policy management software - SharePoint, Office 365 & MS Teams

Main features

1 An attractive, central policy library

Xoralia Policies acts as a central policy and procedure library that can be reached via a SharePoint-based intranet or via a SharePoint site, such as a communication site. When accessing Xoralia Policies users are presented with an attractive and intuitive interface that has been designed to help employees find that they need.

Each policy is listed with salient details including the title, the owner, the document format, the date it was last updated and any related instructions, such as whether it must be read. These instructions are personalised to the user. A handy summary at the top of the page also lets a user the number of policies that they have to read.

2 Complete auditability

Organisations may need to demonstrate to regulators or other external bodies that they both have robust processes in place to manage their policies but also that all employees have read policies that are considered to be mandatory. Xoralia Policies leverages the power of SharePoint to provide a complete audit trail of document changes, and also shows clear review policies in place with the ability to track these. This should satisfy both your own internal and external auditing requirements.

Xoralia Policies also has the ability to ensure employees are carrying out mandatory reads. If a policy is mandatory to read, employees can access the document within the app and then make a simple declaration confirming once it has been read. In-built analytics show policy owners and admins the percentage of those who have read the policy.

3 Robust policy management with automated notifications

At the heart of Xoralia Policies are robust policy management features to ensure that documents are kept up to date and your library remains the one source of truth for policies. Each policy has an identified owner and a defined regular review period.

Notifications ensure that owners are reminded to review the policies they own; Xoralia Policies also has a simple dashboard that shows a policy owner their policies that are due for review or have expired. Transparent ownership and review information displayed on each policy also encourages accountability.

4 Analytics for mandatory reads and more

Xoralia Policies also comes with powerful analytics. Xoralia Policies shows policy owners the percentage of users that have read a policy, while administrators can access a more detailed analytics dashboard showing the status of all mandatory reads as well as other salient analytics relating to document status, for example. There are options to use Power BI for more detailed and custom reporting.

These analytics can help teams to prepare for audits, making interventions where necessary, but also get a better understanding to building engagement with employees.

5 Strong findability

Findability is critical. Employees want to be able to find the right policy quickly and effortlessly. The app includes a strong search facility where an employee can enter keywords to find the policy they are looking for. Additionally, employees can filter by different categories including mandatory and non-mandatory reads, the function who owns the policy (IT, HR, Legal etc.) as well as custom tags defined by you.

6 Easy set-up and deployment

The app is quick and straightforward to implement. Because Xoralia Policies can be applied to an existing SharePoint library it means you can convert an existing policy library to the app. It can also be deployed from within any SharePoint intranet or other SharePoint site.

Simplified Policies takes a few days to implement. Content Formula can handle the whole implementation or work in partnership with your IT function to deploy the app.

7 Options for customisation

If you have special requirements around managing and presenting your policies, there are options for customisation. Call us to discuss.

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Customer case study

Policy management software example

Gama Aviation provides global business aviation services and support to individuals, corporations and government agencies. The global workforce require access to one source of truth for technical documents, polices and procedures. Building on the Wizdom intranet already introduced by Content Formula, Gama Aviation chose to upgrade their existing policy library to Xoralia Policies to take advantage of the improved UI, mandatory reads capability and decentralised policy management.

Content Formula worked closely with Gama Aviation’s IT function to enable them to carry out most of the implementation themselves. The new policy library is now accessed through the Wizdom intranet and is already getting good feedback and frequent visits.

Policy management software example

SharePoint is made for policy management

When it comes to managing your policies and ensuring your employees can find and access them, SharePoint is a strong option.

If you’d like more information about using SharePoint for policy management or about Xoralia Policies, and would like a product demo then get in touch!

Running blended learning through your Microsoft 365 digital workplace

For a long time learning was at the periphery of the digital workplace and away from the daily flow of work, for example centred on a Learning Management System that was not easy to access and had poor usability. Given the importance of learning and training to employees and organisations, this has always been an anomaly. Thankfully a range of digital tools mainly available through the Microsoft 365 digital workplace are at last integrating learning right into the heart of the digital workplace. With the current focus on employee experience and on enabling people to better use digital tools, there has also never been a better time to initiate a project to deliver better learning through Microsoft 365.

Another advantage of Microsoft 365 is that because of its wide variety of channels and tools, it can support different types of learning. Most organisations have blended learning programmes with a mix of classroom training, e-learning, mandatory training, mentoring, Communities of Practice and more. Microsoft 365 can support blending learning through a mix of different channels. It can also help learning administrators to manage learning and support managers who need to keep on top of the training within their teams.

In this post we’re going to explore the different tools and channels that can be used to support blended learning programmes, making learning more accessible and discoverable.

A core learning platform and LMS through LMS365

The most important part of a digital learning ecosystem is a core learning platform or Learning Management System (LMS) that allows users to access a course catalogue of training available, book courses, access course material, and carry out e-learning. They can also then view a record of the learning they’ve taken and what they might need to take in the future.

For administrators, a learning platform provides the core tools to manage learning, including an administration module, and extra features such as learning paths, certificates and points to deliver on the learning requirements of different organisations. There may also be tools to create learning content.

LMS365 is a fully featured learning platform that integrates seamlessly into Microsoft 365. It is an additional product to a 365 license and not provided by Microsoft, but many teams tell us it feels like part of the 365 suite, and it is gets excellent reviews. With LMS365 installed, it means most of the barriers associated with learning are removed and employees can reach and discover learning via different tools such as Microsoft Teams. In fact, the integration is so seamless that employees may not realise they have left SharePoint. There Is also a good LMS365 mobile app.

LMS355 is also very good at supporting blended learning, as you can manage both classroom training enrolment and e-learning from the same catalogue.

Learning hubs and pages through SharePoint

The flexibility of building SharePoint sites and pages means you can create dedicated learning hubs that guide users towards all the learning opportunities available for them, and then also include links, resources and even embed feeds for example from a Yammer learning community to make it easier for users to take action such as enrol on a course. Blended learning programmes cover a range of options, so a learning hub based on SharePoint provides both an overview and a starting point for employees.

Typically, a learning hub might be integrated into a SharePoint intranet, but it could also be a standalone communication site or even team site. Some LMS365 clients also choose to build a learning hub as a seamless entry page into LMS365. Some learning hubs may also be dedicated to specific topics for example learning about how to use digital workplace tools.

Learning discovery though Microsoft Search

A major advantage of bringing learning resources into your Microsoft 365 digital workplace is that it means you can include learning within your Microsoft search. Here the results of blended learning including specific courses, a community or even a specific learning asset can be returned, making learning more discoverable though an intranet, Teams and SharePoint search.

Automation and enrolment on learning through Power Automate

Learning is an area where automation can help streamline the administration of learning, for example in registering users on to different courses and updating learning records. A platform like LMS365 will do some of the automation for you and here the ability to leverage AD groups in Azure is particularly useful for example in rolling out mandatory training for all managers. Within 365, Power Automate can help you to create other automated and custom flows that can support blended learning; these might include automatic enrolment into a particular Community of Practice, or automated reminders for people attending a course.

Learning analytics through Power BI

Analytics are important not only in measuring the effectiveness of learning, but also in administering mandatory training. While some products within your learning ecosystem will include handy analytics built-in (such as our Xoralia Policy Management tool), integration with Power BI means it is very straightforward to create bespoke learning dashboards and reports for learning administrators, managers and even senior leaders.

Communities of Practice through Yammer or Teams

Communities of Practice (CoP) dedicated to professional topics are a solution that can support the less structured and more social elements of blended learning by providing access to experts within the community, facilitating interaction and discussions, and sharing learning resources such as videos. The best tool to use for a CoP is Yammer particularly if a community is large – but it is also possible to use Teams, particularly if the community is a smaller and more focused.

Policies and mandatory reads through Xoralia

A blended learning programme and also the learning elements of an employee onboarding programme may require employees to read particular policies and documents. Here the mandatory reads capability within a tool like Xoralia can help keep track of which employees have read a page or document; the tool lets employees know they have something to read, asks for confirmation they have read it and then delivers reports to administrators to track progress. Xoralia is built for SharePoint so again integrates seamlessly with other 365 tools.

Learning events calendar via SharePoint or LiveTiles intranet

Blended learning programmes are likely to include learning events such as webinars. A central calendar of learning events can also be a good way to display upcoming opportunities for employees, particularly if it is available via the intranet. This can be achieved in different ways including using SharePoint calendars or using the event calendar functionality within a LiveTiles intranet. At Content Formula client RSSB, the latter is used to display learning events on the intranet homepage.

Frontline enablement through PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or LMS365 app

Learning is also an important component in enabling frontline employees and delivering a good employee experience. Being able to access learning materials including training videos on a personal device is an excellent way to support wider learning, especially when it can be carried out a time convenient for that user. A variety of different options across Microsoft 365 can deliver learning to the frontline via mobile apps including custom PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or the LMS365 app.

Social learning through LMS365 for Teams and Microsoft Viva Learning

More informal social learning and sharing is another component of blended learning. With Microsoft Teams usage so high, making sure employees can access learning through Teams and then have conversations about learning opportunities and resources can support blending learning. Here, LMS365 for Teams can make learning discoverable and allow peers to share learning resources within their discussion thread. Microsoft Viva Learning is also bringing learning into Teams, although this offering is still evolving, but we can expect this to play a major role going forward.

Blended learning through the digital workplace

Microsoft 365 provides excellent support for blended learning from LMS365 as a core learning platform through to Yammer-based Communities of Practice through to Power BI learning dashboards.

If you’d like to discuss how to support learning in your organisation and make sure it is in the flow of daily work, then get in touch!

What is a social intranet and what are its main features?

When we speak to intranet teams about what they want to achieve with a new or existing intranet, they sometimes tell us they want to introduce a social intranet. Although some teams use terms such as modern intranet or even digital workplace which can cover similar ground, social intranet is still a commonly used term.

Generally, a social intranet is regarded as one that includes a high number of social and collaborative features and tools which enable participation from employees, therefore distinguishing it from a more traditional intranet purely focused on internal communications and static content. Many organisations wish to introduce a social intranet to help drive employee engagement and support a less hierarchical organisational culture.

In this post, we’re going to explore in more detail what a social intranet is, what its main features are and the advantages it can bring.

What is a social intranet?

There is no formal definition of a social intranet. However,  a social intranet is generally considered to be an intranet where there are a substantial number of social tools and features accessible across it that allow users to publish content, add comments, post contributions and interact with each other. It can also include social networking capabilities such as the ability to follow other employees. A social intranet might additionally integrate external social media, such as a corporate Twitter feed.

These social capabilities are usually visible and well-adopted to a degree where they counter-balance the more formal, top-down elements of an intranet such as corporate news and more static evergreen content. On a social intranet, bottom-up, user-generated content will be highly prevalent, and should make a site more dynamic and livelier with a constant stream of employee contributions from right across the organisation.

The social features of an intranet might be either built into the intranet software you are using, integrated from a separate platform or even both. For example, many social SharePoint Online intranets  include a Yammer integration as their main social element.

What are the features of a social intranet?

There are a number of common features of a social intranet, although not every social intranet will include all of these.

Activity streams and feeds

Social intranets tend to have activity streams and feeds from social platforms like Yammer embedded into pages. These may appear on the homepage, which might aggregate feeds from different groups and be personalised, or as a feed relevant to the subject, topic or community on a specific page. These feeds will not only surface conversations, but also be a point from which users can interact and make contributions.

Commenting, sharing and liking on messages

Social intranets tend to allow users to interact with more formal communications such as news and leadership communications by commenting, sharing and liking. This can be an important mechanism for driving dialogue and asking for feedback on initiatives and topics.

Blogs and other user-generated content

Social intranets open up publishing for everybody, ensuring everyone has a voice. Typically, on a social intranet, employees can post blogs, localised items relating to their own team (news), user-generated videos and even photos. The chance of finding a cat video  on a social intranet will be much higher than a traditional intranet!

Social networking features

Many social intranets include social networking features such as the ability to follow colleagues, use @mentions and add #hashtags. These can be very useful in utilising social networks for messaging and communications.

Communities, groups and discussions

A core component of a social intranet is support for communities, groups and discussion threads which allow interaction between different employees. Ideally, these should be open for all to view. A social intranet might support professional Communities of Practice, Communities of Interest, user groups for software, Employee Resource Groups and even non-working communities such as sports and hobbies forums.

Employee directory

The employee directory on a social intranet can feel quite different from those typical of a normal intranet, with sections completed by employees to give a more rounded overview of their life both inside and outside work as well as their past experience, providing a profile more like LinkedIn. Their profile might also show their contributions across the intranet.

Polls and surveys

Polls and surveys provide opportunities to solicit the opinions of employees and gather quick feedback on different issues.

Gamification

Gamification is not always a common feature, but some social intranets include gamification elements such as points, badges and leader boards to encourage contributions and other desired behaviours.

Analytics

A good social intranet provides comprehensive analytics on content and engagement in order to deliver insights about user behaviour and opinion.

External social media feeds

Some social intranets include external social feeds from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These are usually the corporate feeds used externally by the company.

What are the advantages of a social intranet?

A social intranet can prove to be an excellent investment to help organisations and digital workplace teams meet both strategic and tactical goals. By bringing social collaboration to a key channel accessed by all employees like the corporate intranet, general digital workplace adoption can be given a significant boost. Strategic benefits can include:

  • Supporting a strong employee experience by ensuring every individual employee has a voice to give opinions and publish stories, thus demonstrating that this is encouraged by enabling it via the intranet
  • Supporting a less hierarchical organisational culture by encouraging social interaction and dialogue between all levels
  • Driving a one company culture and sense of community by allowing interactions across different locations
  • Enabling a listening and more inclusive style of leadership and management
  • Facilitating collaboration and a corresponding culture of collaboration
  • Supporting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) within an organisation
  • Underpinning employee wellbeing through more social interaction.

More operational and tactical benefits can include:

  • Driving adoption and usage of both the intranet and social tools
  • Helping to support ROI in social tools like Yammer
  • Making individual communications more impactful by presenting commenting and discussion as priorities
  • Allowing leadership to get a temperature check of employee sentiment on specific issues
  • Making it easier for employees to communicate with each other by presenting options for contact
  • Supporting networking and strong connections between individual employees
  • Streamlining communications for individuals by aggregating messages across social channels and communities
  • Supporting decentralised publishing on the intranet through blogs and local news publishing
  • Facilitating a range of communities of practice and interest with benefits relating to specific processes, working practices and initiatives
  • Allowing conversations to be presented in context with related content and vice versa, enabling better dissemination of information
  • Enabling user support communities to ask questions relating to different IT tools and HR services.

Need help with your social intranet?

Social intranets can be powerful in supporting engagement, adoption and culture. If you have any questions about implementing a social intranet or want to make your SharePoint intranet more social, then get in touch!

8 ways your intranet and digital workplace support employee wellbeing

Over the last few years, health and wellbeing in the workplace have increasingly come into focus, with HR functions rolling out wellness initiatives to support a wider employee experience agenda. COVID-19 and the stress it has caused has placed physical and mental health high up on the agenda, and over the past eighteen months, organisations have been active in trying to support the wellbeing of employees though the pandemic.

Supporting a healthier workforce is not just a nice thing to – a happy and healthy workforce has potentially enormous benefits, with various studies suggesting it can reduce employee absenteeism, support productivity and even decrease staff turnover. There is also research that links organisations who support wellbeing with higher employee engagement; surveys have shown that in companies which actively support wellbeing through initiatives, 89% of employees are likely to recommend it as a good place to work, compared to only 17% in companies that don’t support wellbeing.

With the combination of the focus on wellbeing and the scaling up of remote working, intranet and digital workplace teams are playing a greater role than ever in supporting employee health and wellbeing. In this post, we’re going to explore eight ways your intranet and digital workplace supports the health and wellness of your workforce.

1 Promoting wellbeing content and benefits

An obvious role that intranets and other digital communication channels can play in supporting wellbeing is promoting relevant wellbeing content and making it discoverable. On intranets that we have recently implemented, some organisations have chosen to publish content about how to stay healthy, such as providing tips on good ergonomics. Sometimes, intranet teams choose to house third party content such as factsheets about health-related matters.

An intranet or HR service portal should also provide information on health-related benefits provided by the company, including gym subsidies, cycle-to-work schemes, eye tests, health insurance and more; these may be gathered within a wellbeing portal. News items might also provide examples of what people are doing to stay healthy.

2 Online wellbeing events and activities

During the pandemic, many HR and internal comms teams organised virtual events across the digital workplace that were geared to support health and wellbeing, including mindfulness, yoga, gym and dance sessions and general social events, all run through digital channels such as Teams, Yammer and even intranets.

There have been instances of senior leaders leading fitness workouts for furloughed staff on social platforms, and companies using Yammer for people to share mental health experiences. One of our clients runs regular mindfulness sessions which can be booked through the intranet. All these events not only promote healthy practices, but also have a social side and help provide a sense of community and connection.

3 Reducing information and app overload

A major source of employee frustration is information and app overload, which can make people feel overwhelmed and even contribute to technostress. Having to open six different applications all with different passwords just to complete a relatively straightforward process, or having over 1,000 unopened emails in your inbox are not conducive to a good employee experience.

Intranets and portals that provide a single integrated digital ecosystem or front door to the wider digital workplace, underpinned by single sign-on, can help reduce overload through a one stop shop approach, helping employees feel more on top of their workload. When employees already have a lot on their plate, a great intranet or digital workplace environment can actively improve wellbeing and reduce frustration.

4 Supporting communities

Online communities and discussion forums are a great way to support employee wellbeing by providing a connection between people across your organisation. Working remotely can be lonely, particularly if you’re working alone at home, and maintaining that human connection can make a difference. Many organisations already support professional Communities of Practice, but social groups relating to non-work interests can also drive connections. From sports clubs, to recipe swapping, to sharing cat videos, online communities on intranets, within Yammer or even on Teams can help strengthen your employee network. During the pandemic, many organisations created Teams channels for more informal social interaction. Some communities can also be specifically dedicated to wellbeing areas such as running, yoga or healthy eating.

5 Wellbeing related analytics

People analytics is a growing area of interest for HR and digital workplace teams, especially with more opportunities to gain insights from the data that is generated by the increase in remote working and the use of platforms such as Microsoft Teams. Health and wellbeing are focus areas for analytics; in our personal lives, health-related data is being popularised through fitness and health trackers and information about our device usage. In the digital workplace, Microsoft MyAnalytics produces a wellbeing edition that takes information about meetings, collaboration and time spent on different systems, and comes up with a personalised report.

This is an area which we see growing in the future, with an increase in health-related reporting featuring data to avoid burn-out and stress, and to prevent mental health issues. Microsoft Viva Insights, for example, include data relating to wellbeing, while other organisations are supporting and even implementing health tracking apps that support fitness or include health diagnostic tools. There are some challenges around data privacy here, but with most organisations very mindful of these, it is possible to generate useful data that is of value to both organisations and individual employees.

Microsoft Viva Insights

6 Supporting the hybrid workplace

At the moment, the hybrid workplace is a very hot topic, particularly with the imminent return to the office, and many organisations are figuring out how hybrid working patterns are going to work in practice. The digital workplace will continue to play an essential part in successfully facilitating hybrid working, empowering employees to work from anywhere.

Before the pandemic, being able to work more flexibly across different locations was often positioned as supporting wellbeing through the ability to balance busy working and non-working lifestyles. Arguably, being able to work flexibly and remotely will still make a sizeable difference to wellbeing. For example, if you have a young family or are a carer for a family member, then the ability to better manage your hours across the week can help you avoid becoming overstretched. Simply avoiding the commute for half a week which can take up as much as three hours of a person’s day could have a tangible impact on health and wellbeing, as well as productivity.

7 Supporting dialogue

Intranets and the wider digital workplace support dialogue and provide a voice for employees through numerous channels including intranets, social platforms, apps, surveys, polls and feedback channels.

Establishing dialogue supports wellbeing in two ways. Allowing employees to express themselves is good for engagement and employee happiness in general, but more specifically, it allows leaders and HR functions to get a sense of employee sentiment and identify any issues which might be impacting wellbeing. When employees can report on issues that are impacting their welfare, employers can then make the necessary interventions. HR functions can also create regular mechanisms to get a pulse check on how the workforce is feeling. This was something that is being seen frequently during the pandemic, with many employers running polls and surveys to check in on employees and see how they are doing.

8 Reducing dangers and hazards

In some organisations and across particular sectors, health and safety is very important. Construction, mining, engineering, manufacturing, energy, utilities, transport, logistics and healthcare are just some of the sectors where there are strict safety procedures that must be followed to protect employees, and sometimes customers. Invariably, safety is promoted as a priority, and is even reflected in company values.

Digital workplaces and related tools and channels can play a part in reducing dangers and hazards. An intranet may provide basic information on safety procedures, as well as run campaigns to make employees aware of the potential hazards they face. We’ve also seen intranets that include health and safety statistics prominently on the homepage, including the time since the last incident, in order to promote a safety culture.

Mobile apps for employees to report potential dangers on site play an active role in reducing the number of incidents and raising vigilance surrounding the kind of hazards that cause accidents.

potential dangers

Wellbeing and the digital workplace

Employee wellbeing has never been more important, and your intranet and digital workplace tools can make an active difference. Want advice on how you can use your digital channels to support health and wellbeing? Then get in touch!

Webinar video: Yammer best practices

85% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Yammer, but we regularly hear about poor adoption and failed implementations. What does Yammer best practice look like? How can you ensure that it works in your organisation?

In this Webinar we’ll share our experience and insights into what makes Yammer succeed within different organisations. Including:

  • Aligning Yammer with your company strategy
  • Establishing the right roles
  • Why and how to run pilots
  • Yammer for Internal Communications
  • Yammer for Leaders

Panelists:

  • Richard Gera, a Digital Communication and Engagement Consultant with a wealth of Yammer experience. This includes rolling out and managing enterprise collaboration as an external consultant and an in-house practitioner.
  • John Scott has worked across both design and technical disciplines – a rare combination that allow him to build a bridge between the user experience and technical teams. This means that feasibility, usability, delivery and ease of maintenance are baked-into all of our solutions.
  • Joe Perry oversees the technical delivery of all Content Formula projects. He works closely with our UX consultants and clients to understand requirements and design appropriate technical solutions.

How do you improve digital employee experience?

Employee experience is an important topic for senior leaders and HR functions, but also for digital workplace and intranet teams. Digital channels and workplace technology continues to have a prominent influence in how employees experience their work, particularly since the start of the pandemic and the increase in remote working. The projected future of hybrid working patterns means that improving digital employee experience will be a key objective for digital workplace teams going forward. Opportunities created by Employee Experience Platforms (EXP) such as Microsoft Viva also mean that there has never been a better time to start thinking about digital employee experience.

In this article, were going to explore some of the ways teams can improve digital employee experience. In reality, there is no single magic ingredient that improves digital employee experience; you need a combination of different tactics, underpinned by joined-up thinking, to make a difference. Improvement also doesnt necessarily happen overnight its about taking a longer-term, strategic view of the digital touchpoints that impact employees.

What is digital employee experience?

Recently, we tried to define employee experience and digital employee experience. We concluded that the term concerns the way employees experience workplace technology, and that it takes in a more a holistic and strategic way of thinking about the role of technology at work.

However, there is no exact consensus on the definition, and the term can incorporate different meanings and   vary from organisation to organisation. For example, some define it as the equivalent of digital customer experience, while others place more focus on the lifecycle of an employees time at an organisation.

Lets explore some of the different ways digital workplace teams can improve digital employee experience.

1 Align with your organisations strategic view of employee experience

You cant improve digital employee experience without knowing what your organisations strategic view of employee experience is. What are the key elements of employee experience within your organisation? What is important for employees in your organisation? What are your strategic objectives around employee experience? What are the priority areas? Even if the strategy is not necessarily called employee experience, there will   usually be some kind of equivalent which you should analyse.

The strategy and roadmap for digital employee experience must align with the overall strategic view of your organisation and follow it, otherwise your efforts can lack focus, might not get the necessary support from other stakeholders or   may prioritise the wrong areas. Improving the digital employee experience is a huge topic and there is a great deal you can do to achieve it, meaning its   sometimes   hard to know where to start.   Aligning and following the wider employee experience strategic view should help define your digital employee experience strategy and the related areas for prioritisation.

2 Involve the right stakeholders

Digital workplace teams will know the importance of involving key stakeholders in your digital workplace strategy and roadmap – the same is true of digital employee experience. Here, you absolutely need to involve HR for the employee experience element, and both IT and HR for the digital aspect. HR are going to be driving your employee experience strategy forward, and HR tech including your HR system of record like Workday, employee onboarding solutions, learning platform and more are going to be   integral parts of your digital employee experience. You need consensus and joined-up approaches with these stakeholders to ensure you are working towards a common vision of digital employee experience, leading to a collaborative effort which can   direct the specific tactics and measures that can enrich your strategy.

3 Focus on the moments that matter in the employee lifecycle

A common focus for improving digital employee experience is the employee lifecycle, following the journey from the time an employee is first hired to when they leave. Throughout the lifecycle, there are some key moments that matter that make a real difference to the employee; these include the onboarding experience, learning and development, internal career moves and being supported through key life moments such as starting a family. Identifying these moments and then optimising the digital employee experience around them can be a good way to prioritise and focus actions. Employee onboarding, for example, is often ripe for a better digital employee experience, and is an area where improvements deliver substantial value for organisations in helping to reduce employee turnover.

4 Understand your employees

You cannot improve digital employee experience without a thorough understanding of employees. If youre a regular reader of our blog, you wont be surprised by this, as we advocate undertaking user research for any digital project. Never design or build a digital solution based on assumptions! You need to understand the way employees work, their pain points, how they use technology, their information needs and what is important to them.

This is particularly important for a digital employee experience strategy that considers the wide series of factors that are combined to form the overall employee experience. Of course, there are numerous ways to undertake user research including surveys, interviews, workshops, quick polls, analytics, observation and more.

5 Craft individual experiences around different groups

Understanding employees will inevitably mean bringing in a diverse set of needs that reflect not only the diversity of a workforce, but also individual perspectives and circumstances. One of the major challenges of digital employee experience is trying to design solutions that will meet everybodys needs. Of course, thats not always going to be   possible, but incorporating principles such as personalisation, targeted content and experiences, the ability for individuals to configure their experience around their needs,   flexibility and choice will help.

Flexibility and choice are hugely important in the hybrid workplace, allowing employees   to work from anywhere and at any time, giving them autonomy in defining their own employee experience.

6 Keep on involving employees to ensure better solutions

Improving digital employee experience must involve employees. Information and insights from ongoing employee feedback and input is like gold dust, and helps align your digital workplace to employees real-world experiences. Here, it is best to apply some kind of structure to gathering feedback, doing so through:

  • Creating feedback mechanisms and channels to capture ongoing input
  • Establishing formal groups of employees who are prepared to provide ongoing feedback over a prolonged period
  • Building employee feedback into project delivery and product management processes
  • Committing to more agile and iterative approaches to workplace technology.

In introducing these sorts of measures, you also need to clearly communicate and demonstrate that employee feedback is valued and makes a difference in order to encourage ongoing input.

7 Take an empathetic and human-centred view

Improving employee experience means thinking about the range of factors that impact our experience of work. This goes way beyond user-centred design, interface design or improving productivity. We need to think about elements such as health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, flexible working, personal development, career growth, employee engagement and more.   We also need to contemplate the needs of different groups in terms of roles, locations, culture, background and demographics. On top of that, we must consider the scenarios and conditions people work in, including frontline employees who are on-the-go, knowledge workers sitting in an office and remote employee working at home.

This sounds straightforward on paper but   is actually pretty complex, and   an empathetic and human-centric view is needed to improve digital employee experience. This is especially true as we come out of the pandemic and senior leaders are more focused on peoples needs.

8 Measure in the hybrid workplace to drive continuous improvement

Using metrics to measure different aspects of digital employee experience is a prerequisite for introducing continuous improvement, gaining insights to make meaningful changes, and then testing the impact through further measurement.

Measuring for digital employee experience requires different approaches to looking at adoption or the success of internal communications, alongside a wide range of measures right across the hybrid workplace. People analytics, for example, is starting to look at the connection between health and wellbeing and the time spent on different systems. Using more creative and broader approaches to analytics is necessary, although this is an area where new practices are still emerging.

9 Properly resource your efforts

Digital employee experience is of strategic importance and requires adequate investment, not only in the technology solutions but also in ensuring there are people in place to launch, manage and improve these solutions. Investing properly in an employee onboarding solution, as well as in people to provide stewardship of that system, can have a significant impact on reducing employee turnover. All too often, organisations fall short on digital employee experience because they are simply not resourcing their efforts properly; unfortunately, ensuring availability of the right level of investment and resourcing   is sometimes out of the hands of the digital workplace team.

Improving digital employee experience

Improving digital employee experience is an important area, and we hope this article has given you some ideas. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your digital employee experience, get in touch!

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