Microsoft tweaks Viva, mulls over how to reduce staff stress

As the general availability of Cloud for Retail approaches on February 1, Microsoft today modified its Teams and Viva platforms and released a report highlighting the challenges it believes front-line workers face.

Microsoft’s definition of a frontline worker is, according to Jared Spataro (the company’s executive vice president of modern work), “people who couldn’t go home and did all their work in person,” a certainly broad definition that encompasses everyone from staff production lines to keeping power grids running for healthcare workers and staff waiting at tables.

The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, had previously highlighted the roughly 2 billion workers who fit the definition as a segment that would benefit from Microsoft’s technology, even before the pandemic hit.

The report, from a survey of 9,600 employees and managers from eight industries on five continents, comes as Microsoft unsurprisingly rolls out some new features on its Teams platforms aimed at bridging the gap between manager and worker and creating a culture in the workplace.

It found that while 76 percent of workers felt attached to their colleagues (thanks notably to pandemic-induced stress), more than 60 percent acknowledged that communication from above was not great and that their company could do more. . Worse still, the 51 percent in top-line non-managerial positions didn’t feel particularly valued.

Not good, particularly as workers assess a change in employment (the survey noted that a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November) and stress continues to mount. How to reduce stress? 64 percent believed that a salary increase would help. Half thought it was necessary to take paid time off and being in third place was a better technology tool.

Sure, everyone is stressed. So what better time than now to force new Teams technology on people?

That said, Microsoft saw an average 400% increase in monthly Teams usage between March 2020 and November 2021, with healthcare and financial services leading the way at 560% and 550%, respectively. Some employees, however, are struggling with new technology: Older workers (41 and older) sometimes had trouble adjusting, according to the survey, while younger employees (40 and younger) found technology in the workplace a little behind what they were. I used to do it.

While Microsoft can’t do much about frontline worker pay and vacations, it is keen to tout its employee experience platform, Viva, as a way to link frontline workers to company culture. and facilitate access to resources, such as human resources. It is also enhancing the Teams integration with Zebra Reflexis to connect the workforce management platform with the Teams’ Shifts app.

It’s all very, very, er, exciting stuff and, as Emma Williams, Microsoft’s corporate vice president noted, “Empowering frontline workers remains essential to digital transformation.”

Yet while all the learning and empowerment technology in the world is fine, it’s hard to escape the two main ways to reduce stress, the survey found: paying front-line workers more and giving them paid leave. ®

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