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Achieving Onboarding, Retention, and Well-being Goals with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva

A person giving a presentation

If you are reading this, chances are good that your goal is to amplify and improve the employee journey. There are times when significant industry change requires us to improve our employee experience around the employee journey. Not only reactively. Sometimes it is necessary to completely redesign and refresh it.  

Technology has advanced significantly in employee experience and offers us new ways to complement the positive change in the employee journey. You can use Microsoft 365, Microsoft Viva, and more to facilitate better onboarding, increase employee well-being and improve retention. 

The employee experience is divided into eight key stages. We cover that extensively in our 80+ page whitepaper.

This e-book focuses on three critical investment areas.  

Facilitate and Augment Better Onboarding

Increase Employee Wellbeing & Development

Improve Retention Rates

 As we explore each area, consider how if your challenges are unique. Understand how the solutions and tactical recommendations in this eBook can be applied in your workplace. Drive better results at a faster rate with a digital employee experience platform powered by Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva. 

Facilitate and Augment Better Onboarding

It's not just for before an employee gets started but also for those already employed.  

"Onboarding and re-onboarding allow employees to nurture a more effective connection to the organization and each other." 

Thinking of onboarding as a niche only relevant for new employees or times of new growth and staff transition is tempting. Still, the truth is today; it is more important than ever.

Onboarding and Re-onboarding are both important ways to keep employees updated. Regular updates on employee norms, processes, and systems is the best way to keep employees aligned. Everyone should be on the same page for goals, values, and development/growth opportunities. 

All of us have faced significant change over these recent years. Teams have been forced to adapt to new remote or hybrid working models. Platforms with new higher velocity collaboration, and an organization that feels more disconnected can prove a challenge.

Culture shifts and remote/hybrid involvement requires effort. Employees may not work in person or may not connect in person for extended periods. It is a great time to invest in onboarding, even for existing employees and proactively managing a workplace transformation. 

Onboarding Experience Challenges Of Today

Getting on a stopped train is straightforward; however, jumping onto a moving train can prove challenging. The same scenario –bumps and bruises included - can be applied to organizations. Very few employees agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding because moving trains are hard to board.  

Onboarding Needs To Start Earlier 

Leaders often don't consider the impact of Pre-onboarding or spend an insufficient amount of time and effort here. There are significant benefits throughout the stages of pre-onboarding. Pre-recruitment and recruitment greatly improves an employee's journey if you tackle this stepwell. If we forget to engage here, it can lead to missing out on some of your industry's best talent.  

Your onboarding supportive experience should have already begun before the employee's start date. 

A clear employee experience advantage is that employees who are satisfied with the flexibility of their organization are 2.6x more likely to be happy working for their employer and are 2.1x more likely to recommend working at the organization. 

For many companies, the brand is how it relates to attracting more customers or increasing customer loyalty. Similarly, we need to consider how our brand, purpose, and culture should attract more employees and increase employee loyalty.

Workplaces today are highly transparent, especially regarding what the employee experience is like within your organization. Internal employee experiences can significantly impact the external reputation of your organization. It signals what your organization stands for to drive interest in top talent. 

When it comes to successful employee experience focused onboarding, it needs to start before the first day of employment. Onboarding should continue after the first week, too.  

Onboarding Needs To Be Engaging, Not Just Informative. 

Every onboarding process should engage the employee and not focus on one-way communication. 

This engaged onboarding should be evident in the employee experience. Whether its helping employees socialize with their team, understand how the organization functions, or learn where they fit in. Here are a few examples of ways organizations have improved the onboarding experience to make it more engaging:

  • Provide proactive support systems such as an onboarding buddy or partner assigned to work closely with the new hire. It's much easier to learn from this individual than from a manager. Most people learn more effectively and frequently from non-managers and non-IT. Consider how valuable pairing new employees (and existing ones) with people that can support them in a potentially more engaging way.
  • Proactively create opportunities to introduce and access connections and socialize with employees (especially outside their working teams/groups). A deeper and more diverse internal network allows employees to bring more value (via their network) to their work. There is also a greater the likelihood of them remaining with the organization longer.
  • Soliciting feedback (from multiple methods and numerous approaches) during and after the process can significantly help improve the onboarding experience. Troubleshoot onboarding checklists, solicit opinions, and integrate insights across departments. With so many digital tools in Microsoft 365 and our digital workplaces today, this is easier than ever. 

Re-Onboarding Is Critical & Onboarding Isn't Just For The Start Of Employment 

Lastly, consider how re-onboarding works. It engages current employees and educates them on company updates, evolved processes, and more. This approach focuses on tackling the genuine challenge that no matter how effective an onboarding period is, it still ends. More efforts are needed to keep a large team on the same page, especially when working remotely. 

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Onboarding Solutions That Matter For Tomorrow

The onboarding process's lack of structure and planning can be a big challenge. Spending time here is essential to improve, automate or simplify the process and prioritize the proper steps. Consider the core tasks in virtual onboarding and how Microsoft 365 correlates to each. 

Onboarding Solutions that Matter for Tomorrow Diagram

Emails are only one way to introduce an employee to the org. Options like Yammer communities, Viva Engage, Teams channel messages, bots, and more can enrich introductions.

Integration with many services, like LinkedIn, makes understanding who an employee might already know easier. These experiences are great for new employees. Simplify onboarding with options like people card experiences, people search in Viva Topics, people in Viva, and other Viva Microsoft experiences. They make it easy for an employee to connect with people and understand who's who within the org.

Additionally, sharing materials, planning and attending training sessions with Viva Learning, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and elevates onboarding best practices. Each of those experiences can personalize themselves based on how the employee prefers to work and learn. 

Learn more about what to prepare for in the future of workplace management and employee experience in our webinar series.

New Employee Onboarding Assistance, Icebreaking & Badging 

Consider automating the introduction or icebreaking of a new employee with support from onboarding software. Automation helps introduce employees to the whole organization. The team(s) they will be working with and a larger audience of connections across the organization. 

If you want an example to build on, download and install this integrated bot onboarding assistant for Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams - New Employee Onboarding Assistance App

Pair team members up for a weekly meet-up and let the bot find an available timeslot for both parties. With something like this Icebreaker Teams app experience that you can install and begin leveraging as a starting point.

A screen capture of Microsoft Teams Messaging

Another effective technique is to badge a new employee's profile image. Everyone can see they are a new employee at a glance. Everyone sees the indicator in email, meetings, communities, Teams, and throughout the Microsoft 365 experiences.

People are encouraged to provide more proactive support in onboarding by connecting further to improve the new hire's network. You can do this by leveraging the underlying capabilities of this champion management platform solution or by developing it yourself.

Champion Management Platform

New Employee Onboarding Targeting, Sites, Teams & Communities 

Optimally throughout your employee experience in the context of users' work, you will target information to new employees. You can start this with audience targeting a new employee group. Target a new employee group of a specific department for more optimal results. There are many out-of-the-box aspects of the employee experience that Microsoft 365 has built-in audience targeting support:

New Employee Onboarding Audience Targeting inside Teams

Organize news with a targeted items that appear first for new employees or within navigation. You could have some 'getting started' links and material for new employees. 

This new employee content could be empowered by creating corporate onboarding sites, departmental onboarding sites, and other targeted onboarding experiences. You have checklists and insights into the departmental culture or how the department works, and much more available.

Microsoft has created great samples for these new employee onboarding sites. See the New Employee Corporate Onboarding Site and the New Employee Departmental Onboarding Site.  

New Employee Corporate Onboarding Site 

The corporate onboarding site is the landing place for the new employee onboarding experience. It provides a high-level view of organizational goals, leadership, team structure, and resources and helps HR onboard. In this phase, users seek guidance, support, and clarity from onboarding programs.

Example of a New Employee Onboarding Site (Intranet)

Use this site to outline onboarding details and expectations during the first months of onboarding.  

Users have access to support channels like Yammer, can write FAQs relevant to your organization, and can customize the onboarding checklist. Include the activities you want all new hires to do in their first 30, 60, and 90 days. 

New Employee Departmental Onboarding Site 

In this onboarding site, users need to learn about departmental leadership, culture, goals, and resources. Use the departmental onboarding site to provide access to communication channels, training guides, and events relevant to new hires. Consider an onboarding system associating departmental onboarding sites with existing department portals if you have them.

Onboarding Intranet Team Site

In this onboarding site, users need to learn about departmental leadership, culture, goals, and resources. Use the departmental onboarding site to provide access to communication channels, training guides, and events relevant to new hires. Consider associating departmental onboarding sites with existing department portals if you have them. 

Pre-filled content:

  • Home page - Provide a high-level view of significant concepts relevant to new hires.
  • Getting started – Help users quickly understand onboarding tasks, departmental procedures, and anything else that will help new hires be successful.
  • Meet the team – Introduce hires to your people, the structure of your organization. Clearly explain goals of the leadership, organization, and Our priorities pages. Edit the Call-to-Action web part to include links and images. Or, link to an existing team page instead.
  • Help & Support - Highlight where to go for support and consider creating a FAQ section. 

For a comprehensive understanding of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva's impact across the entire employee journey, download our free definitive guide.

Free Resources: Download our free 80+ page whitepaper today!

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Increase Employee Well-being & Development 

Employees who burn out will not develop effectively. You will often run the risk losing some of your top-performing, hard-to-hire, and very hard-working talent.

It is essential to support employee well-being to have more productive and effective employees in your working environment. By supporting well-being and appropriate work-life balance, we can help ensure that our employees can sustain their development. Get the best out of each employee and let managers and peers get the best out of each other. 

Employee Well-being & Development Challenges Of Today 

It is a fact that wellness in the workplace is a top priority for HR leaders. Sadly investments poured into reactive interventions makes far too little of a difference.

The issue is too much focus is on relieving symptoms. You should instead pursue preventative investments or diagnostic ones that get at the root cause of employee burnout.

We need better diagnostic tools and data to provide more prescriptive and practical approaches to improving well-being. Better insights allow us to predictively provide pro-active support. Avoid burnout risks and enable employees to drive more consistent and significant impact over time in amore sustainable way. 

It can be tempting to reduce the priority of employee well-being investments. Especially if the war for talent is less critical or if your organization has budget constraints.

Resiliency, productivity, and a sustainable approach are all significantly impacted by wellness, and it remains a competitive advantage in the industry. The payoff in long-term talent development can be massive. The productivity gains in the short term are significant with so much change in the industry. 

81% of employees say it is essential that an organization offers them training programs to keep their skills up to date. It is easy to think of this step of the employee experience as representing the training provided by an organization. However, improving outcomes in this step of the employee experience will require more comprehensive development. 

Employees need to be engaged (a parallel step mentioned earlier) and see a path of growth in the organization. Growth can be in many forms. Changes can include a pay raise, new skills, altered duties, new people to work with, more autonomy or more support. 

Coaching conversations led by peers, managers, and business leaders heavily supports this development. Ongoing coaching opportunities can range from short discussions to deeper and more structured feedback from peers, managers, or self-reviews. 

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Employee Well-being & Development Solutions That Matter For Tomorrow 

Microsoft Viva Insights provides a unique opportunity to understand an employee's digital behaviour. It enables us to predictively gain insight into the potential risks, challenges, and areas across our organizations.

We can use this to drive the most significant improvements. This insight is more actionable since Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 app embed those insights into employees' tools for work. It can be understood, shared, and acted upon at a personal, team, or organizational level. 

Every employee wishes to develop and grow. The employee experience needs to facilitate, foster, and engage with that development and growth.

Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva provide a better employee experience that furthers employee development in several ways. Unlock and enable employee innovation with low-code solutions like those represented in the PowerPlatform. Provide gentle nudges and recommendations (in the context of their work) like those in Microsoft Viva Insights.  

There are countless examples of how Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva enrich and enhance development. Microsoft Viva Learning directly plays into this need, so we will also explore how Viva Learning relates to employee development. 

Viva Insights, Viva Pulse & Glint 

Microsoft Viva Insights, Viva Pulse, and Glint blend AI technology and people science to power predictive insights. The results benefit human resources, leaders, and managers. Quickly make sense of employee digital behaviour and engagement data. With better insights and tools that have built-in ways to action change, you can understand outcomes and take meaningful action. 

As an example, are employees routinely getting 1-on-1 time with their managers? You can get these insights from Viva Insights. Refine them by comparing them amongst departments, business units, or work modes (mostly remote, hybrid, and onsite).

Moreover, it might be worth exploring the other side of manager time, such as how managers engage in employee meetings. Cultivating autonomy and development is essential for employee engagement. Empowering employees to make decisions and tackle new challenges enables managers to be more effective and reclaim time.

Viva Insights Dashboard Example
Driving employee empowerment dashboard
Viva Insights - Getting 1:1 time with your manager

Employee Signals takes advantage of Glint's modern and agile listening approach. Rolling out Glint across your organization allows you to provide more actionable insights to your managers to help your employees thrive. Glint and Microsoft 365 bring feedback directly into the flow of work. They ensure leaders and managers have an easy way to access employee engagement insights and respond to their team's needs. 

Connected, Collaborative Learning With Microsoft Viva Learning 

What if learning didn't require multiple apps? Week-long training sessions or endless scrolling to discover and finish the imperative courses to unlock the career opportunities you want? What if the tools you use daily incorporate learning content? Easily share with teammates, add to your library, and reserve time to pursue your learning goal. 

That is what Microsoft Viva learning provides within Microsoft Teams today. A connected, customized experience for bringing education into everyday tasks, processes, and tools.

Implementing Viva Learning doesn't just mean having access to learning libraries you build and manage. It enables your organization to deploy partner integrations that promote a seamless experience. We can help employees focus on their work across their entire learning landscape.  

Here are a few partners who integrate Microsoft Viva Learning solutions. This integration provides a highly connected employee learning experience that can further elevate your current employee experience.

  • Cornerstone OnDemand
  • Coursera
  • edX
  • Go1
  • Infosec
  • Josh Bersin Academy
  • Pluralsight
  • Saba
  • SAP SuccessFactors
  • Skillsoft
  • Udemy 

Discover all the great advantages you would have in communication and collaboration from using Microsoft 365 solutions in our extensive whitepaper!

Image linking to the Microsoft 365 Communication and Collaboration Advantages eBook

Support Growth & Learning With Centers For Excellence 

We can support many forms of excellence in our organizations. There are many ways the employee experience serves to reinforce excellence. Still, none is more apparent than where the digital employee experience supports digital excellence.

Every organization is working hard to improve digital excellence. Having a center for digital excellence is a foundational solution.

It reinforces and communicates governance and provides a hub for self-service learning. Connects champions, mentors and experts. Share house tips, tricks, and considerable adoption material.

  • A templated or customized site, yammer community, and connected teams experience acts as a hub for digital excellence. It serves as a place to store, share, monitor, and manage digital excellence within the organization.
  • Connect users by surfacing learning programs, materials, and resources. Combine Viva Learning and other technology investments such as Microsoft Learning Pathways.
  • The Digital CoE is also a foundational investment for governance. It provides a precise location for sharing, storing, and enabling a richer understanding of your digital governance policies and guidance. Many house champion programs, lists, mentorship, Q&A-driven communities, and more. 
Centers for Excellence Intranet Example

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Improve Retention Rates Through Employee Engagement 

Of course, every organization hopes for long-term employees. Of course, a great employee experience is at the heart of job satisfaction. You can't avoid exits, but you can decrease their numbers.  

When an employee leaves, hours of investment in their experience are out the window. Remote and hybrid working have taken away chances to identify specific patterns that might lead to an exit. So, whether the employee works from home or in the office, you must ensure that company culture and connectivity are strong.  

Engagement is how we sustain a vital connection between employees and their workplaces. Employee engagement is more than ensuring employees are satisfied with where they work. It's about ensuring the the best conditions for employees allows them to give their best days. It also ensures they are committed to the goals and values of the organization. 

You can measure the two-way commitment between the organization and the employee based on employee experience.  

Employee Retention Challenges Of Today 

58% of employees wish their employer would conduct employee engagement surveys. Organizations with frequent reporting still have employees who feel more focused and actioned responses are required for a more meaningful difference. 

When supporting this step of the employee experience, it is important not to emphasize perks over relationships. A manager invested in coaching, organization accountability makes far more impact than workplace perks or programs. Focusing on the potential and growth of employees is essential.

Our employee experience investments must foster the proper outcomes at the correct levels. There are big mistakes companies can make here. Controlling an employee's commitments or emotions should be avoided at all costs. It can lead to employees becoming cynical or disillusioned, leading to poor business performance.  

This video explains how employee engagement has evolved and how to stay connected in a hybrid world. Watch to ensure you approach this stage informed. 

You can conduct some motions at an organizational level. Often, it's empowering, educating, and informing managers that will have a more significant impact. 

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Employee Retention Solutions That Matter For Tomorrow 

Employee engagement is now critical to business success. The2021 Work Trend Index data revealed that 41 percent of employees were considering leaving their current employer. The employee experience stage of engagement, is the most apt stage today. Microsoft 365 has many purpose-built digital experiences for this need.

  • Today employees can connect with others and share their voice with Microsoft Viva Engage. Yammer also supports communications in communities through individual or leader storylines.
  • Improve engagement with different methods like virtual conferences in Altspace VR, mixed reality events in Microsoft Mesh or live events.
  • Employees can engage with company announcements, news, and insights in SharePoint. Powered by Microsoft Viva Connections Intranet experiences, interaction can be sharing a reaction, comment, or information.
  • Employees can understand engagement patterns, challenges, risks, and more with Microsoft Viva Insights. They are enabled to action these insights with this platform. It has the breadth and depth needed to adjust the employee experience, nudge behaviors and improve outcomes.
  • Microsoft Viva Topic pages help users find experts and resources. They can also help find experts identified by engagement in Yammer discussions, such as those related to questions and answers.
  • Q&A’s in Teams webinars, live events, Teams meetings, Viva Engage and Yammer experiences all provide a place to run AMAs. There are more ways to share our questions and answer than ever before. When employees have questions or need support, Microsoft 365 can provide new ways to meet those needs. Explore simple Q&As in Yammer or advanced and integrated experiences that leverage Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

See how this one is represented by Microsoft's own "Ask HR."

Ask HR Case Management Lifecycle Diagram

Viva Engage Communities & Storylines 

For many organizations, the Intranet has continued to evolve and transform. We are in the midst of another significant transformation of the Intranet. The ongoing impact of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Viva, and more is vital to understand.

We are near the birth of Intranets 3.0. A big driver beyond AI improvements and where people work (Microsoft Teams) is the considerable progress in digital employee engagement.

Examples of the evolution of Employee Intranets throughout the years

Viva Engage represents this new form of employee engagement today. It is an improvement to an old employee experience community with Microsoft 365.

It further engages and connects people across the company, wherever and whenever they work. The Viva Engage app in Teams helps organizations build communities powered by Yammer. Still, it allows employees to spark engagement with leadership, harness knowledge and answers, and build personal networks. 

Viva Engage is not just to share stories. This platform feature creates better engagement. Posts are highly visual. Images and videos are accessible in places we’re already working, like Microsoft Teams or the employee Intranet (via Viva Connections).

Remember that the Viva Connections feed will feature relevant content from Viva Engage. This content includes announcements, mentions (@ mentions), and storyline posts from people you follow. This mix can bring deeper engagement to the same feed that powers news today. 

Employee engagement must certainly move beyond the Intranet as we look forward. Microsoft 365 gives us many tools and ways to further our journeys today. 

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Related Resources to Improve EX and DEX 

Equip yourself with employee experience tips and best practices to continue to improve or begin the digital transformation of your organization.  

The following is a list of select resources that are highly popular and well worth a read if you found insight in this eBook.

We hope that these tools and ideas have helped you on your journey towards an employee experience that works for your business.