Viva Learning in Teams
Image: Microsoft

Public preview arrives Monday for Microsoft Viva Learning, two months after Microsoft launched its Viva employee experience platform. Viva is “designed to help employees learn, grow and thrive” with productivity and collaboration capabilities that integrate with Microsoft 365 and Teams, according to the company.

As the world shifts to what is widely expected to be a blend of in-person and remote work, organizations are focused on how to make the experience more seamless. A January Microsoft Work Trend Index study revealed that 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year as a result of “digital exhaustion” attributed to factors including longer workdays, more online meetings and emails. Technology has been able to help in combating some of these struggles, Microsoft said.

SEE: Microsoft announces the next steps in its global skills initiative (TechRepublic)

Analyst Josh Bersin places the nascent employee experience platform category at $300 billion in annual spend.

“The EXP enables organizations to deliver a next-generation employee experience by making employees feel as if their organization has an understanding of needs throughout the entire employee journey,” Bersin wrote. “Employees want a single place to find information and solve problems.”

This type of platform also “dramatically reduces the cost and time spent developing custom portals, integrating back-end systems, validating security and measuring service interactions across multiple backend systems,” he said.

“We believe flexible work is here to stay,” as we transition from working remotely to a hybrid model, said Swati Jhawar, principal product manager, in an interview with TechRepublic.

Improving access to learning

Discussions with customers prompted the company to reimagine what the future of work will look like, how training will be conducted, employee well-being and how benefits can be delivered, said Jhawar, who was central to the development of both Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva.

“More and more, we learned about how fragmented and disconnected employees feel,” Jhawar said. One central issue was workers felt overwhelmed by the number of places to go to find information and resources, she said. “We need to prioritize learning. We are shifting from a nice-to-have to a must-have.”

Another finding was that “employees need time to concentrate on focused learning.” Jhawar cited a LinkedIn Learning study that found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it continued to invest in learning and development. Learning needs to become part of an employee’s day and the goal is to “bring content to employees where they are … instead of them having to struggle to find it,” she said.

The Viva Learning module provides formal training videos to Word documents and PowerPoint decks from SharePoint. There is also integration with LinkedIn Learning and users can consume it in Viva Learning without leaving Teams through an embedded content player, she said.

Content for Viva Learning will be made available in Teams from Microsoft and third-party partners, and employees can browse, search, customize it and share it, Jhawar said. There is also a standalone Viva Learning app available.

General availability of Viva is expected over the summer, said John Mighell, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft.

When a user finds a piece of content they are interested in, they can create a tab within an existing Teams channel and save it to the tab. Viva Learning provides access to courses and lets users view details such as how long a course is and who in the organization likes it, Mighell said.

“We have deep integrations with learning management systems, which will pull through their content,” he said. They include Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba and SAP SuccessFactors.

Right now, content is available from third parties including Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight and edX. “That’s very much the tip of the spear,” Mighell said. “Going forward, there will be public APIs to a broad partner ecosystem.”

Studies have shown that when employees are given opportunities to learn and grow they are 3.6 times more likely to report being happy compared with those who do not have such opportunities, according to Microsoft. Highly engaged organizations report five times higher market capitalization per employee, 21% greater profitability and 51% less employee turnover.

Instructions for how to sign up for the public preview of Viva Learning can be found here. The other modules in the employee experience platform are Viva Connections, Viva Insights and Viva Topics.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.