Employee engagement has become more essential across all industries since March 2020. Bringing your team(s) together, boosting engagement, and ensuring they feel united has never been more challenging, but yet critical. Many of us have been introduced to Microsoft Teams during this pandemic, however, let’s not forget that we have another tool available to us within the Microsoft 365 suite to address these challenges. Viva Engage can help to accelerate employee engagement during remote and hybrid working. In this blog, we have drawn together all the questions our clients have asked us about this tool over the past six months.
What is Viva Engage and what is it used for?
Viva Engage is a very powerful, private social networking and collaboration tool within the Microsoft 365 suite, which helps your organisation to stay connected, informed and engaged. Some call it a social intranet because it’s an internal platform within your organisation. Viva Engage makes it easy to share news and knowledge through the means of Posts. Take a peek at the video below for a quick tour of the tool.
How does Viva Engage work?
First, let’s cover the different components:
Communities: admins can create Communities within Viva Engage, which can be compared to ‘Groups’. You can join the Communities you are interested in and pin your favourites to the top.
Tip: try to create a good balance between formal and informal groups. On the image below you can see which Communities we created at Intelogy. We use All Company to share news with everyone within our organisation, this is our most formal community and as a default, every employee is a member. Besides this, we have a couple of Communities for casual conversations about our pets, hobbies, and TV shows. My favourite Community is without any doubt Intelopets.
Posts: when opening Viva Engage, you will find a blank space to create a Post. This is the place to create the message you would like to share. After preparing your Post, you need to select a community you want to share this post with. You can only select one community per post. Don’t forget to format your post, add links, images, attachments, and gifs.
We have 4 different types of Viva Engage posts available to us:
1. Discussion: a Discussion Post is generally used for a Post that isn’t a Question, Praise or Poll. If you need to share news with the team, this is the most commonly used type. 2. Question: if you have a question, but you are not sure who to reach out to, just pop it on Viva Engage and team members will get back to you. You are still able to @mention relevant colleagues that you believe might know the answer, to prompt a faster response. 3. Praise: does someone on your team deserve a pat on the back? Try to use a Praise Post. At the bottom of your post select the pink medal, choose an appropriate icon, tag the person you would like to praise and write a message. 4. Poll: if you have a question for your team with a multiple-choice answer you can use a Poll. Simply choose the green icon, ask your question and fill in the possible answers. You will receive notifications when someone votes. Be aware, votes are anonymous. If you need to know who voted for which option, you can use a Microsoft Form.
So, now you are ready to go ahead and create a Post. Your colleagues or even external participants (see the following section) can comment on this. And don’t forget to tag people to generate stronger engagement.
Storylines in Viva Engage: You can use Storylines to essentially create your own personal feed where you share your own experiences and discuss topics that interest you. People can visit each other’s storylines and even follow others. You can share short videos and pictures on your storyline.
Leadership Corner: Posts from your leadership team will pop up here.
How to tag people in Viva Engage?
You can tag someone by typing ‘@’ and the name of the person you want to tag. It’s as simple as that.
Can you add external participants to Viva Engage? Can it be used externally?
Yes! Essentially Viva Engage is an internal tool, so normally nobody outside your organisation has access to posts and messages on the Viva Engage feed. However, Viva Engage also provides the opportunity to add external participants to particular conversations. Once the conversation has come to its natural end, you can remove those participants when necessary. Note that this feature is not available on Viva Engage mobile. If you are interested in how to add external parties, you can visit this link for a step-by-step explanation: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/viva/engage/azure-ad-b2b-guests-engage.
What is Viva Engage used for and do we really need it?
In my view, it’s an absolute must-have. Viva Engage brings countless benefits to the table as it allows everyone within the organisation to have a voice and find a place to engage with co-workers, peers, and leadership. Driving a strategy around engagement helps to build a culture of open communication, shared interests and continuous feedback. Viva Engage allows everyone to be aligned and invested in achieving the goals of the organisation.
What I love the most about Viva Engage is that you can share good news directly with the entire organisation, without having to send an email. This reduces the ever-growing number of emails that can often find their way into your mailbox and increases collaboration among teams and different departments. I am also a big fan of the Praise feature, and we have been using it more often since working remotely to share positive feedback from clients both inside and outside our own teams. Alex Franklin, Intelogy’s Teamwork and Employee Experience Solution Architect has been helping clients set up Yammer for many years, and he is convinced that organisations do need Yammer.
“I’ve worked with Yammer since 2013 and have seen it introduced in many ways. It’s been a central tool for communities of interest to share ideas and knowledge, a tool for vets to discuss methods of treatment or seek opinions from their peers, or in other cases replacing an intranet as the central point of communication within an organisation.
Though it allows for privacy within individual communities, Yammer is about openness, equality and free speech among staff so they can share information and ideas, to learn from each other and gather knowledge. On the flip side to that, it’s an excellent way to introduce a more informal, social culture (especially in modern remote/hybrid working environments). It’s not just about discussing specialist areas, it’s about creating friendly communities that reflect our personalities (at Intelogy, for example, I’m a regular visitor to an Intelopets community where people share pictures and chat about their pets!).
Discuss ideas about methodologies, share knowledge on subject matters, ask questions from experts. After that, share recipes in a foodie community, arrange regular meetups in a social community, or run a fantasy football league. All in one place, on your laptop or your phone, bringing people together.
– Alex Franklin, Teamwork & Employee Experience Solution Architect, Intelogy
What are Pros and Cons?
I think it’s fair to say that Viva Engage is one of the easiest, simplest and most effective collaboration tools within the Microsoft 365 suite. With its intuitive user interface, it’s very easy for new employees to jump straight into it and start posting. I posted on my first day at Intelogy, just to say ‘hi’ to everyone and to give a short introduction about myself. I received many comments on my post with warm welcome messages. This was my first interaction with Viva Engage and ever since I have been a fan. Viva Engage has many advantages and I have listed my personal top 5 below, however I would also like to highlight some challenges that can arise and how you can manage those.
Pros – Benefits of Viva Engage
1. Finding the right people/more collaboration Viva Engage is the ideal place to find the right colleague, without knowing where or who they are! It’s nearly impossible to know every single person within your organisation and being aware of their strengths and skills. Through Viva Engage you can share relevant information with the right people and encourage collaboration.
2. Improve relationships Colleagues can keep in touch through this informal tool and build stronger and more personal relationships. When stronger relationships are formed, collaboration becomes more apparent and effective, boosting productivity.
3. A source of knowledge Viva Engage is also the ideal place to create a less formal source for information and knowledge. Everyone can share information, project updates, useful links, and resources with each other. Everyone can learn from one another and broaden their knowledge
4. Efficient It’s very common for employees to reach out to five colleagues before finding that one person who knows the answer to your question. This eats a lot of time. With Viva Engage, you can jump straight into a relevant community and address all the members with a question. If you don’t have a group related to your question, you can try posting in it in a company-wide group. Tip: At Intelogy we created a special community called ‘Ask the Team’, for the purpose of asking questions.
5. Reduces email I think we would all like to reduce the number of emails we get in one day. However, in reality this brings a number of practical issues. Viva Engage helps to fight the problem. This tool can make sure that news, messages and questions don’t end up in your inbox, but instead are displayed on a feed for you to read whenever is convenient for you. If you can develop Viva Engage to become a strong pillar of your organisational culture, colleagues will become more comfortable posting and sharing news, reducing email traffic.
Cons of Viva Engage
1. An open community means limited control Anyone within the company can create a post and publish freely on all Viva Engage communities of which they are a member. So how do you make sure everything is appropriate? Global admins can configure the network and set up a policy but can only delete a post after it has gone live. There is no functionality to check messages before they appear in the feed. The main question you have to ask yourself here is, how much control do you want? Trusted relationships are not built with strict rules and continuously monitored posts or comments. And besides, you probably prefer your employees to post on an internal channel where you can stay on top of it, instead of other platforms where you have no view of what’s going on.
2. Another collaboration tool Try not to overload your team with various collaboration tools as information can become less organised, meaning the lines of collaboration may become blurred. You risk having different assets scattered around multiple areas of the M365 suite, without any overview and that can make it difficult to find the right information when you need it. Viva Engagedoes have a search bar in case you are having a hard time retrieving something. You can filter the results based on the date or community. To overcome this challenge, it’s important to make sure you are promoting the right tool for the right job, suggests Alex. Only that way Viva Engage meets its purpose and people don’t use it for purposes it’s not intended for. There are many other applications staff are likely using, and they need to be clearly guided as to which to use and when.
When should I use Viva Engage?
Now that it’s clear how to use Viva Engage, you are probably wondering, “when is the most effective time to use it”? At Intelogy we use Viva Engage mainly to share company-wide news, to praise people and for our whereabouts. Since we started working remotely, we have also been using Viva Engage to share news that we would otherwise share on a walkabout in the office. Viva Engage is an informal place to chat, regardless of where you are.
Viva Engage vs Teams
At a fundamental level, Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage have very different purposes. Viva Engage is heavily focused on connecting the entire organisation. The posts on Viva Engage are not intended for one person or one team but for everyone in the organisation or community. Microsoft Teams, however, focusses on 2-way collaboration. In Teams, you will be reaching out to a specific person or selected group (Channel) instead. The news you share with that Channel is only important for the people that are a part of that Channel. Microsoft Teams focusses on small teams, whilst Viva Engage on larger groups.
Teams is a Community of Practice, whereas Viva Engage is a Community of Interest.
– Alex Franklin
Viva Engage vs Teams vs Outlook
Viva Engage: the best tool to reach out to the Outer loop (colleagues that are not directly your team members, but more often people within the organisation who are interested in the same topic).
Microsoft Teams: if your intention is to communicate to people you directly work with, then Teams is the preferred tool. Through Teams you can collaborate on files and discuss projects, use it to collaborate with the Inner Loop.
Microsoft Outlook (Email): emails work well when you are sending across files that are already finalised and don’t need any more input from the recipient. Emails are therefore preferred and more suitable for direct and targeted communication such as confirming appointments, short questions, etc.
Is Viva Engage free? – Viva Engage pricing
Viva Engage is part of the Microsoft Viva suite for employee experience. Viva Engage is available to all current Microsoft 365 commercial customers at no additional charge. Users must have a Yammer license to use the app.
Can you edit a post in Viva Engage?
Yes, you can edit your own posts (Discussion, Question and Praise) on Viva Engage by hitting the vertical ellipsis in the right corner of your post. However, you can’t edit a Poll Post! I can assume that this is to make sure the votes on your Poll are accurate. If you notice a mistake in your Poll you will have to create a new one and delete the existing one.
Can I pin a post?
Imagine you have asked an important question, addressed to all of your colleagues within the company. You would like the post to be pinned at the top of the Viva Engage feed until you get an answer. Unfortunately, you are unable to do this yourself without community admin privileges. The good news is that you can reach out to the admin and ask them to pin it for you. The admin can find the “Pin Conversation” feature when they click on the three vertical dots in the right corner of your post. To find out who the admin is of a community, you have to navigate to the community, and click on the number of members in the top right corner. The admin will show up first in the list, have a star attached to his/her picture and state ‘Admin’ between brackets.
Where is Viva Engage data stored?
Viva Engage communities use SharePoint to store the files and documents uploaded to them (since July 2019), so the files & their metadata end up in a SharePoint content database. Viva Engage Posts and comments are stored on Viva Engage’s own cloud storage. To find if your Viva Engage files are on the Viva Engage Cloud or SharePoint, locate the header of any of your Viva Engage communities and click ‘Files’ underneath the community name.
Who can create Communities/Groups in Viva Engage?
This depends on the settings applied by the admins of your Viva Engage Portal. If all users can create communities, you can select ‘Create a Community’ in the bottom left corner of your Viva Engage homepage. If you can’t see this button, then it’s clear that this permission has not been granted to all. At Intelogy, this feature is disabled to make sure our environment is well managed and tidy. We believe that having too many communities will actually result in less engagement.
How to leave a Viva Engage Community?
You can leave a Community simply by going to the page of the Community and hovering over the ‘Joined’ badge in the banner. Once you hover over it, ‘Leave’ will appear. If you were successful you will now see a ‘+Join’ badge.
What is the Viva Engage Leadership Corner?
The Viva Engage Leadership Corner is a place on Viva Engage to follow your leadership team and see all their posts. You can even set notifications for when they post.
You can access the leadership corner in the top left section above your Communities.
Are Viva Engage Polls anonymous?
Polls are anonymous, which means that nor the creator, nor voters can see who voted for which option.
However, from personal experience, I will admit that there is a way for the creator to keep track of votes as they are coming through. When a poll is created and a person responds to it, the creator will receive a notification of this e.g. Megan Bowen has responded to your poll. The creator can then check the poll and see which option got the vote. So if the creator keeps checking the poll every time he receives a notification he could technically keep track.
It’s a messy procedure that we wouldn’t recommend. If you would like to release a poll and track people’s responses you could opt for Microsoft Forms.
When was Yammer launched?
Yammer was launched as an independent product in 2008 but it was only in 2012 that Microsoft bought it for $1.2 billion.
When was Viva Engaged launched?
Viva Engage was launched on 19 July 2022 at Microsoft Inspire.
Will Yammer be discontinued?
Microsoft has deprecated Yammer Basic/Freemium networks in 2022, but for most of us that hasn’t been an issue as we have been using Yammer Enterprise. If your organisation has an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 licence, Yammer Enterprise is included.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 13, 2023: Yammer is evolving to Viva Engage. The Yammer brand will be discontinued.
UPDATE JULY 2023: Intelogy received a notification that Yammer is now Viva Engage in our tenant.
Is Yammer now Viva Engage?
Yes, Microsoft has retired the Yammer brand and introduced Viva Engage as an evolution of the Yammer app in Microsoft Teams.
Viva Engage vs Yammer?
There is no difference between Viva Engage and Yammer. According to Microsoft, there are no changes to the features, capabilities, or investments for Microsoft 365 users/customers other than branding adjustments. You won’t experience any loss of continuity and will continue to gain from Viva Engage’s power just as you did with Yammer.