How we are improving employee engagement and business value with Viva Goals
Published Mar 29 2023 11:02 AM 6,715 Views

As Director of Business Management and Customer Zero Strategy at Microsoft Viva, my passion is creating a better employee experience for Microsoft employees, so it makes a lot of sense that I’ve chosen a role that allows me to light up Microsoft Viva in HR and across the company. But as any HR leader knows, creating a purpose-driven employee experience with happy, motivated employees is easier said than done.


Our journey to engagement and impact with Viva Goals

We began our journey with OKRs and Viva Goals in November 2021 with 8 Objectives at the team level on the VivaHR team. This is way more than the recommended 3-5, but we were learning this powerful framework and knew we could refine and use this refinement to better prioritize work for our employees later on. Here are the results we saw within one year:


  • A 25% percentage increase in employees who reported they felt they were doing meaningful work
  • A 34% percentage increase in employees who said they have time for learning, to expand their skillset and grow in their field
  • A 75% reduction in manual tasks around goal-setting and management for team members

The image below illustrates the results we are seeing with OKRs and Viva Goals so far. I will go into further detail around each of the benefit areas of OKRs: Alignment and Focus, Transparency, and Adaptability, and Growth.




Alignment and Focus

Two of the most beloved benefits of OKRs are alignment (ensuring teams are aligned and moving in the same direction, with purpose) and focus (setting 3-5 objectives per team, per quarter, so that teams can prioritize what is most important).

What does this actually translate to on our team? How have better alignment and focus made us into a more priority-driven, productive team?

When it comes to alignment, with OKRs and Viva Goals, we have been able to make our employee and managers’ daily experiences more sustainable and scalable based on collective results leveraging Viva Goals. When new asks come to our team, we can compare to our Objectives and determine if there’s a strong alignment to our current book of work and how we can best think about the asks of us to best drive the work we have in motion. We can enter the targeted key results in Viva Goals and quickly see how they fit into the big picture to help drive every individual on the team to see how it fits.

Thus far, our team has achieved a 50% increase in alignment and capability using OKRs with Viva Goals.

Shifting to focus, reducing our objective load from 8 to 4 helped get the team inspired and prioritizing the work that is most important to our business, like supporting product teams to roll out Viva modules to our employee and manager ecosystem and advocating for Viva integration into existing HR programs.

This increased focus also made our team more productive by giving us more time to focus on actioning Microsoft employee feedback.


VivaHR EXP H1FY23 Team Objectives

  • Support product teams to roll out Viva modules to our employee and manager ecosystem

  • Advocate for Viva integration into existing HR programs

  • Recommend new HR employee experience scenarios to influence understanding and shape future product design

  • We thrive by showing up as one team to each other and beyond


Transparency and Adaptability

Transparency (clearly defined ownership of core outcomes across the organization, creating accountability and surfacing roadblocks) and adaptability (faster and better decision-making based on real-time data insights) have been two of my favorite benefits from using Viva Goals.

With Viva Goals, we have been able to track OKR progress in one central location for efficient cross-team awareness.

One of the biggest benefits here is limiting manual tasks and data entry for our team, so goals stay top-of-mind while tracking progress directly in the application doesn’t replace actually doing the work that is moving the needle for our business.

When it comes to adaptability, OKRs and Viva Goals have promoted frequent discussion around our goals at the team and individual level and helped us identify blockers early so we can tackle them as a team. We meet to check in with our goal progress on a monthly basis and use OKRs/Viva Goals to help our team pivot with clarity and purpose during team changes like our recent reorg.


It feels right to end this blog post with “growth,” because our learning is never done and the growth mindset is such a core part of how we run our business here at Microsoft. As I mentioned above, after rolling out OKRs and Viva Goals, we saw a 34% percentage increase in employees who said they have time for learning.

On a broader level, in terms of how our team is impacting the entire Microsoft organization, VivaHR has strategically influenced and evangelized Viva Goals integration in HR to achieve more across Microsoft.

The VivaHR EXP (Employee Experience) adoption of OKRs leveraging Viva Goals continues to deliver valuable employee experience and business results, and we can’t wait to continue to improve in the year to come. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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‎Mar 31 2023 10:21 AM
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