4.3 million employees resigned in August of 2021, citing feelings of burnout, depression, isolation, and overall dissatisfaction as the cause.
Your organization can help address this lack of motivation and inability to concentrate by placing the employee experience at the forefront.
This Guide Outlines Key Tactics for Prioritizing Employee Experience:
- Developing an efficient digital onboarding process
- Offering personalized opportunities for continued growth and learning
- Implementing morale and validation practices
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Chapter 1: Employee Experience Tools
As more and more employees moved to a digital workspace, it became harder for managers to keep them engaged with their daily routines. In fact, even though highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies, only 53% of employees globally report feeling engaged at work. Moreover, employee morale dropped to an all-time low in response to disease prevention efforts and a feeling of uncertainty throughout the pandemic.
How Employee Experience Looked in the Past
Although the term itself might not feel familiar, prioritizing employee experience didn’t start with the digital workforce. Creating a great employee experience was dominated by investments in office perks, such as free lunches on Fridays, access to nap pods, and dog-friendly offices. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, employers across the nation spent an average of $3.6 Million on employee wellness programs in 2019.
However, while these perks may have proved beneficial and effective in the past, many of them focused on improving the physical office space, which is no longer as relevant in the digital workspace. The shift to remote work is providing a great opportunity to think beyond superficial perks and instead focus on developing a meaningful emotional connection amongst employees.
How the pandemic changed employee experience
According to a Gartner HR survey conducted in March of 2020, 88% of organizations in the country encouraged or required employees to work from home during the pandemic. As the pandemic, continued closures, and restrictions prevented many businesses from opening their doors, several chose to forgo their in-person offices and transition to a completely remote workforce.
Between the generally increasing demands associated with a work-from-home environment, like juggling a partner or children at home and widely-felt Zoom fatigue, employees are at an increasingly higher risk of burnout.
In fact, SHRM conducted a random study of 1,099 North American workers that found 41% of U.S. employees feel burnt out from work, while an additional 23% report feeling depressed. It is undeniable that COVID-19 and its ripple effects have left remote employees battling negative emotions, an inability to concentrate, and a general lack of motivation to work.
Additionally, likely due to strict social distancing regulations and feelings of isolation, workers are increasingly looking for ways to develop emotional connections at work. However, building relationships is exceptionally more difficult with a remote workforce when face-to-face interactions are limited to meetings with strict agendas.
Improved employee experience has always been an important part of the working environment, but it is proving to be more pivotal than ever in boosting productivity and reducing turnover. Dr. Steve Hunt, Chief Expert of Technology and Work at SAP, stated, “Employee experience management tells us the ‘why’ behind the perceptions employees have about the moments that matter to them and allows employers to get inside the heads of employees, turn on the sound, and understand what is working and not working for them.”
keep employee experience at the forefront
Fostering open communication across teams and departments is an essential step toward improved employee experience. Developing an environment that encourages employees to share concerns with management, knowing they will receive valuable feedback, can promote communication and open the door for discourse surrounding employee experience and satisfaction. However, taking advantage of the wide variety of programs and apps offered by Microsoft can take employee experience to the next level.
Digital communication tools allow daily work tasks, like filing paperwork and training staff on new skills, to be completed entirely online. This not only allows managers and supervisors to more easily connect with remote workers—employees also have a chance at improved communication and collaboration across teams. Further, data indicating how employees spend their time day to day can provide actionable insights into employee productivity, potential burnout risks, and overall collaboration and communication.
With that in mind, let’s tackle how these tools can directly improve the experience of new hires as they face onboarding and training.
Chapter 2: Improve Onboarding
Once a new employee is approved for hiring, onboarding begins. Anyone intimate with this process knows it involves mountains of paperwork, communication across teams and outside companies like health insurance offices, and, most importantly, time. An inefficient onboarding process can leave new hires waiting for their first day of work for up to weeks, resulting in a bad first impression and a backlog of work for the new employee.
Additionally, new employees require an average of 8-12 months before they are considered fully trained in their new office’s procedures and regulations. Therefore, it’s essential to streamline the training process through a fully digital platform that allows new hires the autonomy to complete training on their timeline while freeing up current employees who no longer need to supervise them.
What’s equally important is making the necessary resources and documents easily accessible to any HR team member involved in the onboarding process. This prevents delays caused by out-of-office team members having the documentation, or any other general disorganization.
train new employees with microsoft teams
As of 2021, only 34% of employees are very satisfied with their job-specific training, even though 41% of employees believe training is very important. Especially for those training multiple new hires at once, it can be difficult to balance important procedures, relevant information, and the mental bandwidth of those on the receiving end of your presentation. That’s where Microsoft Teams comes in.
During the onboarding process, HR team members can schedule a live training session through a video call, rather than organize and schedule an in-person meeting with a large group. This creates a fully interactive digital training space that encourages communication through a real-time Q&A.
Further, new employees can easily access any uploaded training materials and documents in the “Files” tab of Teams, so important information regarding procedures or benefits is always within reach. To avoid new hire burnout, share only essential information during the training live stream. All other additional informative training videos can be uploaded to Microsoft Stream, where they can be viewed at leisure.
store essential resources in Sharepoint
SharePoint is an immense document management system that can efficiently organize thousands of files. The simple document search app developed by Aerie allows users to conduct a refined search and find their desired file in seconds. This tool can be incredibly helpful for any organization, but especially during the onboarding process.
SharePoint can store a range of valuable documents that the Human Resources department frequently needs within reach. This can even include HR folders for each employee. These folders in SharePoint can contain job descriptions, offer letters, evaluations forms, and employment contracts. That way, whether it’s time for yearly reviews or if an employee is retiring, any HR member or management with set permissions can quickly access all of the necessary documents on the employee with ease.
You can also store reference sheets in SharePoint to improve the hiring process for HR members. These sheets can contain all information on qualified job applicants such as reference contact information, resumes, cover letters, or any other important document that speaks to the candidates credentials.
Further, HR members can design tests or quizzes that assess a candidate’s relevant skills. Though many job posting sites, like Indeed, offer these quizzes as well, there can be a great benefit to creating an original test, curated to the unique challenges your business or industry might face. Depending on the sie of your company, the HR department can create a standard test for each department or position and save the digital copy in SharePoint to be accessed when needed.
SharePoint can prove imperative for optimizing onboarding as all HR and overseeing team members can quickly and easily access any relevant hiring documents they may need. Store information about potential candidates and current employees, so that anyone with the right permissions can immediately access necessary files. This relieves some pressure from the HR department, freeing up time for more productive projects, all while creating a standard for document storage.
Additional onboarding tips
Outside of these Microsoft programs, there are a few key steps you can incorporate into your existing procedures to ensure a smooth and efficient onboarding process
Before the job listing is even created, make sure to communicate with your hiring team, which should consist of at least one member from the department with the job opening and one member from HR. All members of this team should offer input on the job description, including daily tasks and duties, if there are any teams the new hire will oversee, as well as relevant benefits.
Ensure all team members involved in the onboarding process have a solid understanding of the position and key qualifications you are looking for in an ideal candidate. This should extend to those involved in the interview step of the process.
utilize a digital space
Take advantage of the digital environment by sharing the job listing across multiple platforms and reaching out to potential candidates online. Make your onboarding process interactive and engaging through digital lessons, training videos, online surveys, and easily accessible digital documents.
This is especially relevant if you already work within a fully remote or hybrid workspace. By integrating onboarding steps through programs your company already uses, new hires will not only be able to complete training with ease but will already have a baseline understanding of these programs by the time onboarding has finished.
encourage open communication
Set aside time for discussing compliance and answering any questions new hires may have. Invite new employees to lunch where they can meet with the team and discuss professional goals. Remember to check in after a month to see how your new employee is adapting to the working environment. This step will make the new employee feel welcomed and wanted, and will allow you the chance to address any issues they may be concerned about.
Further, encourage current employees to reach out to any new hires and offer help when needed. Not only will new employees feel more comfortable knowing there is another employee they can reach out to for help, but by creating this relationship early on you limit the possibility of mistakes being made out of fear of asking questions.
A successful onboarding program is essential in ensuring new employees are on track and up to date on corporate policies and what the expectations of their position are. Adding a modern digital platform will help reduce the learning curve for your employees and ease their transition into a new workforce. Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are setting the standard for a seamless onboarding process, saving you time on tedious admin tasks and preventing inconsistent training.
Chapter 3: Experience Strategy
In a past survey, employees who joined a career development program had a nearly 250% increase in productivity. However, employees who didn’t receive managerial support had higher turnover rates, being prone to job-hopping without a long-term plan.
Skill building should be a continued effort by you and your team members. Remaining updated on developments in your field can help your company stay ahead of the curve and the competition. However, encouraging this continued education can be difficult, especially for remote workers. Further, many employees who are interested in building their skills prefer the flexibility of completing trainings that interest them on their own time.
Microsoft Teams offers a centralized hub known as Viva Learning, where your team can discover new training opportunities, share documents, and even recommend skill-building lessons to their colleagues, all through content libraries supplied by your organization and its partners.
Viva Learning, a branch of Microsoft’s employee experience platform Viva, integrates a personalized view for each user by displaying training content based on their preferences and history of completed lessons, all without ever leaving Teams. As you complete or search for more lessons, your recommended content will be updated based on your personal interests. In this way, it becomes easier for team members to obtain learning opportunities, especially when browsing for courses from Microsoft and third-party providers.
Informative and engaging content can easily be shared with coworkers or groups through Teams chat, providing an opportunity for team members to recommend skill-building lessons to other colleagues, rather than waiting for direction from a supervisor or HR mandate.
Viva Learning permits users to select and organize content into custom categories for a cleaner layout. They have the option to bookmark courses they need to revisit later without losing any progress. Additionally, managers have the tools to track the status of learning and even suggest targeted content to their employees accordingly. If you’re assigned admin roles for Microsoft Teams and 365, you are able to include additional content resources in Viva Learning.
The Viva Learning hub allows you to access a variety of data, including recently viewed items, recommended courses, learning content metadata, and records of completion. It encourages employees to prioritize personal growth, providing them with the autonomy to develop the skills necessary to succeed in their careers.
Chapter 4: Employee Insights
A core component of Microsoft’s employee experience program, Viva, is driven by Viva Insights, a service that prioritizes creating a balanced workload and supporting the wellbeing of employees. As employees continue to report feelings of burnout, employers witness a significant decline in performance, productivity, and overall morale.
Viva Insights works to identify the work patterns of different team members, showing managers data on their team’s behaviors at work that could potentially lead to burnout. This allows managers to take actionable steps when patterns are noticed like frequent after hours work, limited use of PTO, or imbalance of work duties across teams.
This program segments data into two separate views: insights for individuals and insights for management. Let’s dive a little deeper into how these two levels of data can impact employee experience and morale.
Viva insights for individuals
Individual employees can access data and insights related to their work habits to help enhance their personal wellbeing. The four main features aiming at improving the health and wellness of employees are focus time, recommendations, wellbeing focus, and personal insights.
Focus time allows team members to block out time in their calendars in which they intend to focus. During this blocked off time, that individual will not receive alerts or notifications, and that time in their Outlook calendar will also be blocked, ensuring that they will not be added to any meetings.
Viva Insights also offers personal recommendations designed to support the employee’s productivity. These recommendations rotate based on their current working activity and can range anywhere from an article or Viva Learning video related to the topic of a recent project to a suggestion to take a break from working overtime.
There are also several features within the wellbeing focus that help encourage employee mental wellness, including access to meditation apps, personal mood surveys, and a daily “wrap up” feature that creates a visual for what the user accomplished that day, how they can prepare for upcoming meetings, and the best way to mindfully disconnect once at home.
Viva collects and learns about each individual team member, and then offers ways to better understand their own workday through personal insights. Through use of artificial intelligence (AI), this feature shows how much time tasks like writing emails or sitting in meetings take out of each individual’s day. This can help employees manage their days better, and even make decisions about how they might want to change their routines.
Viva insights for Management
Managers are able to gather information about how employees are doing on an organizational level through risk factors, wellbeing factors, and team cohesion data.
Viva Insights allows you to identify risk factors and provides actionable recommendations to help manage your teams. If, for example, many team members are spending lengthy hours in meetings each week, it might recommend alternative ways to run meetings in order to avoid dips in productivity.
Management can access aggregate individual data in the wellbeing factors section. This allows managers to search for patterns in the wellbeing metrics and address them company-wide. For example, this data can show who is consistently working after hours and allows you the opportunity to address it before it leads to burnout.
View collaboration and communication metrics to monitor team cohesion across your teams. These insights can track how often team members are speaking with one another, and for which projects, to provide a better understanding of the overall interconnectedness of the organization.
Viva Insights is an app with many unique solutions in the face of workplace burnout, accumulating data from both Teams and Outlook. It lets managers check in on employee activity through gathered insights and demonstrates how to be proactive in maintaining employee wellbeing.
Teaching employees strategies for overcoming stress will help them flourish in today’s fast-paced working environment. Though remote work brings its own set of challenges, these employee experience insights can help guide managers through the inner workings of their organizations while allowing employees the freedom to rearrange and optimize their time.
Chapter 5: Relationship Building
Communication, collaboration, and overall relationship building has become increasingly difficult among employees, especially since the rise of work-from-home positions. Without the opportunity to catch up in the break room or discuss weekend plans over lunch, employees are becoming less invested in their relationships at work.
While most full-time employees spend more time with their coworkers than their families, that time together is of much lower quality when spent virtually from home. The fact is, employees that have relationships with their peers and superiors may see a direct impact on their professional success. Further, close-knit teams who enjoy each other’s company are typically more productive, innovative, and focused.
Close working relationships also allow you to promote leadership from within, creating a sustainable group unit that won’t be as affected by resignations from short-term employees. Therefore, more and more remote management teams are searching for easily-integratabtle apps and programs that can assist in tackling employee morale and encourage relationship building.
boost morale with shoutouts
One of the newer additions to the Office Template series is the Shoutouts powerapp. This app allows employees and supervisors to send notes of appreciation to coworkers to note success on a project or to simply say thanks. It’s designed to be fun and interactive while encouraging coworkers to share appropriate, work-related compliments that they can even personalize with pictures or gifs. You can also adjust the settings so that Shoutouts sent to employees are copied to the recipient’s manager.
Once the coworker is selected, the app will guide you through the process of creating and sending the Shoutout. First, you’ll select the Shoutout type from a list of categories that includes Helpful Feedback, Problem Solver, and Customer Advocate. Theme colors, headers, and icons change depending on the category of Shoutout. In the next step, you can add a personalized message and upload a photo, preview how the Shoutout will appear, and then send it to the selected recipient.
The Activity tab acts as a social feed in which all users can see current and past Shoutouts and ‘like’ individual messages. This is the ideal tool for creating a positive digital environment that supports work relationships and effectively boosts overall morale.
key shoutouts features
Shoutouts highlights the very clean and concise design practices that many Power Apps boast. The first of these is a gallery of square user cards that simplifies the process of searching for team members. Profile pictures can be added, or pulled from an existing Office 365 profile, to each user profile to liven up your feed and make relationship building that much easier.
Like many Microsoft Power Apps, Shoutouts can be used in its original format or completely customized through the Power Apps editor. Back-end Shoutouts data is conveniently stored in Excel, so any license of Power Apps will work with this app.
Once Shoutouts is fully installed and running, you will immediately see the coworkers with whom you interact the most listed to the right of your activity feed. You can switch views from the Activity feed to the Shoutouts to Me or the Shoutouts from Me feeds to access Shoutouts directly related to you.
Overall, high employee morale stems from a combination of a pleasant and positive work environment, good work relationships, and a passion or interest in the work itself. Though the latter is primarily out of your control, Shoutouts can help create a collaborative environment that encourages acts of appreciation and shared celebration for a job well done.
positive employee experience inspires collaboration and retention
A happy and productive workforce is characterized by positive employee experiences, where everyone in the organization is motivated and engaged in their work. That’s why it’s essential for managers to prioritize a work-life balance that encourages personal and professional growth.
Remote work has opened many opportunities for employees, but at the potential expense of smooth and concise onboarding procedures, opportunities to develop important skills, management opportunities to check on productivity, and positive work relationships. Microsoft offers a variety of tools that prioritizes employee experience.
Optimize onboarding and new hire training sessions through SharePoint and Viva Learning, automate daily tasks with Teams, utilize Viva Insights to evaluate employee productivity and potential burnout risks, and grow as a team with Shoutouts.