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Microsoft research uncovers a workforce craving reskilling and social contact

A largely unjustified concern over productivity, or “productivity paranoia”, is sweeping global enterprises in the age of hybrid work, even as employees increasingly look to new horizons for a workplace that develops their talents and encourages a more social atmosphere. These were the key findings in Microsoft’s “Work Trend Index (WTI) Pulse Report 2022: Understanding Your Workforce”, released today.

“Our Work Trend Index puts a finger on the pulse of the global employee experience and the challenges faced by employers”, said Waseem Hashem, Business Group Director, Modern Work and Security at Microsoft UAE. “What emerges in this year’s study is this anxiety among managers over productivity, which the data suggests may be unwarranted. This could be resolved by just talking to employees, but unfortunately, just 43% of employees say their company solicits feedback at least once a year”.

  1. Productivity paranoia

Some 85% of decision makers worldwide say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to know whether people are being productive, despite 87% of employees attesting they are now more productive than they were when they worked in an office full time. Alongside this productivity paranoia, which indicates a growing disconnect between employees and supervisors, workers on both sides of the managerial divide are feeling the stress. Almost half (48%) of employees and more than half (53%) of their managers are already reporting the effects of burnout.

To resolve the disconnect, and to help leaders drive clarity and alignment while saving on labour hours, Microsoft has developed tools for productivity, collaboration, and employee empowerment. Viva Pulse is a new app that enables team leaders to gain frequent, confidential feedback on their team’s experience. And new integration in Viva Goals with Microsoft Teams, Azure DevOps, Power BI, and others brings OKRs into everyday workflows.

  1. The need for social contact

Another visible trend in this year’s WTI pulse report is the importance employees place on the social aspect of their jobs. While 82% of business decision-makers expressed concern over getting employees back to the office, 78% of them agree with 73% of employees that they need a better reason to commute than just company expectations. And 84% of employees said they would be motivated to return by the promise of socialising with co-workers, while 85% would be motivated by rebuilding team bonds.

Since the data shows the need for interaction with colleagues to encourage people to work in person, employers must find solutions that modernise their communication and connection between employees and leaders. Viva Amplify is a new app that allows leaders and other communicators to elevate their message and reach employees wherever they are, with consistency and impact. Viva Engage enables digital community building through conversations and self-expression tools. It includes Leadership Corner, a space to invite employees to interact directly with leadership, share ideas and feedback, participate in organisation-wide initiatives, and more.

  1. The demand for professional development

The index also provided evidence for the necessity of robust professional-development programmes, which remain a determining factor of talent retention. More than half (56%) of employees and more than two thirds (68%) of business decision-makers say the growth opportunities in their organisations are insufficient to keep them there in the long term. And 55% of employees say the best way for them to develop their skills is to change employer.

Employees are communicating that if they cannot learn, they will leave. Companies must therefore build learning cultures and provide opportunities for employees to build new skills. Viva Learning allows employees to discover, share, and track the latest learning content (from required to recommended training) from Microsoft Teams. And new integrations between Viva Learning and LinkedIn Learning will make it even easier to access content from the LinkedIn Learning Hub from within Teams. The integration will include in-app playback, completion syncing, a new seamless login implementation, and a consolidated admin experience for learning content source configuration. Additionally, Answers in Viva is a new chat-like experience that uses AI to match employee questions to answers and experts across the organisation to help put collective knowledge to work for all employees.

“Again, skilling plays a starring role in the talent-retention story”, said Hashem. “Employers must come to terms with the stark realities of hybrid work and build a compassionate culture of transparency and trust where digital tools and digital skills are leveraged to enhance the employee experience”.

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