Blog Performance

Managing Employee Performance with Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Teams has been a real lifeline, especially since the remote work boom of the past couple of years. But, now, Microsoft has taken their next big step in supporting the virtual employee experience. So, how does performance management in Microsoft Viva actually work?

So, what is Microsoft Viva, anyway? Is it just Teams with a fresh coat of paint, and are we going to have to shell out for expensive software licenses? Not quite.

You can relax. Viva isn't replacing Microsoft Teams, so much as it's integrating with and supplementing the Teams app we're all familiar with. We've even integrated it with Weekly10 to provide an additional layer of insight.

The Teams platform isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's getting a whole host of shiny new plug-ins courtesy of the Microsoft Viva Experience. And let's be honest. Microsoft Teams never had a shortage of optional plug-ins to begin with!

It's fair to say that, overall, businesses were successful at adapting to the demands of sudden, mandated remote work policies. But these improvised approaches are nets with large holes. People and problems slip through the gaps. So, Microsoft are positioning Viva as the first employee experience platform truly designed for the needs of a post-remote work world.

What does the Microsoft Viva model look like?

As noted, rather than being a whole new platform, Viva is actually a series of plug-ins for the existing Teams infrastructure. Together, they form a framework for employee experience management. The aim is to create an inclusive workplace experience that's equally accessible to office-based and remote workers. But what are the actual list of plug-ins?

  • Microsoft Viva Insights
  • Microsoft Viva Goals
  • Microsoft Viva Learning
  • Microsoft Viva Topics
  • Microsoft Viva Connections
  • Microsoft Viva Engage

It's actually Microsoft 365 powering these plug-ins. This way, performance management in Microsoft Viva feels consistent with Teams and other tools. It also means the plug-ins are fully integrated with the 365 accounts you may already have set up for your employees.

Now, let's take a closer look at what Viva's plug-ins have to offer....

Microsoft Viva Insights

Performance management in Microsoft Viva Insights is about autonomy and self-motivation. The Insights app uses your Microsoft 365 data to offer personalised... well, insights, funnily enough.

These can include productivity boosters like recommendations about your meeting schedule. There are even AI-based task suggestions. But Viva Insights also includes wellbeing features, like protected time and virtual commute reminders.

Microsoft Viva Learning

Viva Learning gives employees access to skills courses and tutorials from a wide variety of sources. You aren't just restricted to Microsoft's own content. You're free to bring in content libraries from any source you like. And the best part is that, like the rest of Viva's features, it's accessible all through Microsoft Teams.

Weekly10's check-in system also helps employees keep track of their skills training. This is another opportunity for you to get an extra level detail by using our plug-in with Viva Learning. You should be connecting an employee's learning to their check-in questions. That way, you'll have a much clearer sense of employee sentiment about training and learning in your business.

Microsoft Viva Topics

Training resources are all well and good. But sometimes learning is simply about getting the info you need to cover a certain topic or make a particular decision. That's where the Viva Topics plug-in comes in. Essentially, it's an AI-driven knowledge curation service. The idea is to aid productivity by putting accessible information at employees' fingertips.

Microsoft Viva Connections

Microsoft intends Viva Connections to be one of its workplace culture hubs. It doesn't directly relate to performance management in Microsoft Viva, so we'll keep it brief. Connections a place to post internal news memos, op-eds and PSAs about company culture. Employees can comment on the articles posted there. Ideally, this gives employees a voice and helps to generate discussion.

Viva Connections is also a useful recognition tool. We've touched on how Insights enables peer recognition. But Connections can help promote employee visibility across your organisation.

Microsoft Viva Engage

Engage is Viva's other hub for workplace culture. But there's a much more simple way of putting it: Employee social media. And we're not talking about LinkedIn.

Glance at a Viva Engage feed, and you'd be forgiven for thinking it's Facebook. Engage is powered by Yammer, and allows employees to form communities around different topics or areas of interest. It could be very useful for building social connections between your staff.

If your employees keep browsing social media on the job, then maybe this is a healthier alternative. Again, it doesn't really relate to performance management, so we'll leave it at that. 

Microsoft Viva Goals

Okay, so, full disclosure: Viva's goal-tracking system is actually the main thing we want to talk about today. Performance management in Microsoft Viva Goals uses a system of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). What's great about OKRs is that they enable businesses to work on large-scale projects. They do this by relating the overarching objective to the tasks (or key results) completed by employees.

Viva Goals aims to enable better collaboration by cluing employees in on the same OKRs. When everyone can share and see task priorities, progress updates and ongoing discussions, it's much easier to stay on the same page. The idea is that, since Viva Goals will run through Microsoft Teams, it'll be easy to bring key elements of that OKR data into your Teams chats.

But what's interesting is that this is solely an OKR system. So, this is actually a perfect example of how Weekly10's Viva integration can add even more layers of control and insight. As useful as Microsoft's bespoke OKR system will probably be, it's nice to have options. OKRs are great for unifying employee effort. But they don't do as well for solo projects.

Along with OKRs, Weekly10 also offers managers the ability to use SMART Goals. These are intended for use by individuals or small teams. Where SMART Goals really excel is in breaking down a large task into manageable milestones.

Microsoft Viva versus Microsoft Teams

So, with the prospect of performance management in Microsoft Viva, it begs the question...

Will these plug-ins be worth changing your Microsoft Teams loadout for?

The answer, of course, probably depends on you and your business. But let's have a look at what we know. The biggest argument in favour of investing in Viva is that it's set to be Microsoft's Next Big Thing as far as workplace tech goes. It's likely to see a lot of further development in the coming years, with refinements and new features.

But we've just spent most of this piece talking about what Viva brings to the table. How might your existing Teams setup compare?

One of Microsoft Teams' biggest strengths has always been the sheer level of customisation offered by its plug-in store. In fact, Weekly10’s Teams extension is one of its most popular engagement tools. 

Sure, we've made Viva's suite of options sound very interesting. But let's not forget that the thousands of Microsoft Teams app extensions offer similar features, and others besides. Virtual whiteboards, polling tools, recognition platforms, code-sharing and other features... We'd be here all day if we tried to list them all. Options like these have made Teams one of the most flexible collaboration tools around.

But, at the end of the day, the Teams platform and Viva plug-ins are permanently interlinked now. Viva will still rely on Teams functionality for communication, and Teams will rely on Viva for things like its Insights capability. So, what we're saying is, while you can choose one or the other, they're meant to be used together.

Cost and licensing

We can talk all day about the wonders of performance management in Microsoft Viva and Teams. But, even with all that, it still comes down to one thing...

How much will it burn a hole in your pocket?

Well, remember that your Microsoft 365 subscription costs between £6 and £48.10 per employee per month, depending on your package. That by itself will give you access to Viva Connections and Viva Engage.

But if you want access to all the features, a full Viva subscription will cost £9.07 per user per month. But that's marked down to £6.80 per user per month for an annual subscription. So, for a business with 100 employees, the Viva subscription by itself would cost £8,160 a year.

An annual subscription with the Glint add-on costs £9 per person per month. Now, let's look at licensing restrictions taken from the Microsoft website:

  • Viva Learning: A license is required to access content and learning management systems, recommend content or track progress.
  • Viva Insights: Microsoft 365 users can access personal insights without a license. Premium, manager, leader and advanced insights all require a license.
  • Viva Topics: You need a license for basically any use.
  • Viva Connections: Available to all Microsoft or Office 365 users without needing a specific license.
  • Viva Goals: Last but not least, according to this announcement, you need a valid Microsoft Teams license to access Viva Goals.

Hopefully we've given you some insight about performance management in Microsoft Viva. Next up in this series, we'll be going into more detail about how Viva Goals uses OKRs. In the meantime, why not read our OKR best practice guide as a refresher?