woman focused on her laptop with coffee next  to her
PHOTO: Adam Satria

Imagine you are a junior employee who has just been assigned your first big project. You’re excited about the opportunity, but it’s a little nerve wracking too. Without any prior experience you're struggling to figure out how to organize your time.

But then a message pops up in your Microsoft Teams channel. Your line manager has just sent you a handful of learning resources that walk you through exactly how to run the project. Some of the resources are internal company guidelines, others are more general insights into project management. After reading them, you feel a lot more confident.

This is the idea behind Viva Learning, Microsoft’s new L&D experience. Delivered through Teams, it provides employees with relevant learning content they can apply in their jobs.

Viva Learning is more than a learning management system. Indeed, I believe it can help address a major unmet need in professional learning and development.

What Is Viva Learning?

Viva Learning is one module in the recently released Microsoft Viva employee experience platform. Viva runs on Microsoft Teams and is designed to support communication, knowledge, learning and insights.

Its learning feature represents a big step forward in how companies deliver training to their staff. Here’s how it works:

  • Within Teams, a new learning tab is visible.
  • Employees click on the learning tab and are shown a variety of learning and development content.
  • That content can come from your own internal learning systems, Microsoft and LinkedIn Learning, or online platforms like Cornerstone and Coursera.
  • Employees then consume this content from right within Microsoft Teams, meaning they don't have to go out of their way to access training.

Viva Learning allows individual employees quick access to content they can use in their jobs. Microsoft uses AI to serve up articles, videos and guides related to the kind of work the individual employee does. Employees can also share this content with coworkers by adding it to their team’s channel.

Managers also benefit from Viva Learning. They can share content with colleagues to help them gain new skills. They can also develop individualized learning schedules for the people they manage and check who has completed the courses.

At the organizational scale, learning and development professionals can now get a picture of how much training content employees are consuming.

Related Article: Microsoft Viva – Who Is It For?

Viva Learning Aims to Meet Unmet Training Needs

So, what sets Viva Learning apart? From my perspective, the tool’s most attractive feature is the fact that it addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing learning and development today right within the flow of work within Microsoft Teams.

It is well established that L&D is currently not fully meeting organizational needs. To point to just a handful of statistics:

  • Only 37% of employees are satisfied with training and learning opportunities at their companies.
  • 70% of employees don’t feel they have mastered the skills they need for their jobs.
  • 54% of employees will need reskilling or upskilling by 2022 to keep being productive.
  • 79% of staff want more learning at work.

Despite clear evidence that traditional enterprise training doesn’t meet demands, many organizations continue to rely on standard top-down classroom training. Viva Learning is a very welcome attempt to address this problem.

Viva Learning actively introduces new approaches to L&D which are far more relevant and appropriate to today’s working world.

  • Employees learn at their own pace: According to a study by LinkedIn, some 58% of people prefer learning at their own pace. Viva Learning meets this need. Employees access training content as and when they wish, right within the working environment.
  • Learning is personalized: Thanks to its use of AI, Viva Learning can figure out which skills an employee may need to work on. It then delivers relevant content that will help them work more effectively — rather than generic training which brings limited benefits.
  • Managers target training: Viva Learning allows managers to recommend training to their teams. A LinkedIn Learning survey shows that three-quarters of employees would take courses suggested by their manager.
  • Supports learning at the moment of need: Learning is often most effective when it is delivered at the point of need. Whether it’s managing a difficult employee, trying to understand your company compliance processes or simply using some software, it is often most beneficial to learn when you are actually struggling. Getting answers at the moment of need is way more helpful than trying to recall a training session from a few months ago. Indeed, 49% of people say this is their preferred way to learn.
  • Encourages a learning culture: One of my favorite features of Viva Learning is that it encourages a true learning culture. Not only can managers assign training tasks to their staff, employees can also share learning resources with their colleagues. This means teams are continually upskilling.

Related Article: Is Viva Topics the World's First Topic Computing Solution?

 

Where Will Viva Learning Go Next?

 

While Viva Learning will serve as a knowledge hub within Microsoft Teams for employees, it will inevitably create some confusion with customers since it's a hybrid between a knowledge hub and a learning management system (LMS). Microsoft does not appear to want it to become a fully fledged LMS down the line either, but it is unclear what path it will follow a year or two from now.

Viva Learning currently has limited integrations with a few existing LMSs, such as Cornerstone and Saba. With those integrations, Viva Learning can surface courses and insights from those LMSs. No plans have been revealed yet regarding future LMS integrations. Given the hundreds of LMSs around the world, this will be a difficult decision for Microsoft — how do you choose who to partner with and who to reject?

The final end game for Viva Learning is not very clear. We know it was introduced to fill the gap of learning in the flow of work within Microsoft Teams. However, we don't know what it will evolve into and whether it will eventually serve learning content outside of Microsoft Teams, since Teams is just one component (although a major one) of Microsoft 365 and learning needs to happen wherever the user is.

 

Related Article: Microsoft Viva Marks Next Step for Employee Apps But Challenges Remain

I’m a Believer in Viva

Viva Learning is a welcome addition to the employee experience in Microsoft Teams. It goes a long way towards meeting people’s currently unmet learning needs. At the same time, it lets companies make the most of their investments in digital learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera, and ensures consistent consumption of training content. I for one can't wait to see the long-term impact of Viva Learning on employee training, productivity and professional development.