A shoe falls on the employee experience market – JOSH BERSIN
This week, Microsoft took a big step: moving Glint from LinkedIn to Microsoft Viva, creating what Microsoft calls “employee feedback in the workflow.”
Glint is a leading provider of employee listening and action platforms, competing with Medallia, Qualtrics, Peakon (owned by Workday), CultureAmp and Perceptyx. These companies sell integrated employee survey, analytics and listening platforms and store massive amounts of employee data used to understand what is really going on within companies.
As I’ve been writing for many years, the market for employee listening has grown rapidly. Once considered a cottage industry of industrial psychologists and investigative tools (Gallup, Towers, and dozens of others build these things), this market is now one of the hottest spaces in HR Tech. Why? Because every business is trying to figure out how to better retain, attract, develop and engage their employees.
And the market has expanded. Not only do these systems give executives a view into the “voice of the employee,” they also serve as “platforms for action.” If you are unhappy with your manager or retail store floor operations, you can now provide feedback and suggestions that will go directly to line management. And leaders can get development tips, action plans, and nudges to help them improve their behavior or specific programs.
For many years I saw this as a closed-loop system, a system that should be as important as customer analytics in business. After all, employees aren’t just “workers to please.” They are, in effect, the best “voice of the customer” you have. So if you know how your employees are doing, you know how your business is doing.
And employees have a lot to add: if you question them and listen well, they will give you important suggestions, comments and ideas that will improve your business. Witness the old-fashioned “suggestion box” I saw at IBM in the 1980s. These anonymous “suggestions” often turned into billion-dollar ideas. You want this type of free-flowing feedback to be welcome and to reach managers in the most direct way possible.
The massive impact of Microsoft Viva
Microsoft Viva is a suite of tools (Viva Learning, Insights, Connections, Topics, and Goals) that any company can purchase to manage all the complicated and complicated things we do for employees. This suite, which took the market by storm when it launched in 2020, is now sweeping across IT and HR departments and starting to change the HR market in a big way. If you use Microsoft Office, Teams, or Azure, chances are you already have Viva, so all you have to do is “activate” it. And when you do, all of your employee communications become more exciting.
This month marks the first anniversary of Viva’s availability, and Microsoft already has 10 million paying users, 1,000 customers, and more than 300 integrated enterprise-class apps.
I won’t go into the whole story of Viva (you can read more here), but suffice it to say that Glint, which is one of the most advanced investigation and listening platforms on the market, s will integrate perfectly with Viva. (Microsoft also announced that it would have all of its internal employees listen to Glint.)
Here are some of the implications.
First, companies that want an end-to-end employee listening system no longer necessarily need a new vendor. If it’s a Microsoft store, they can get an enterprise survey and analytics platform that employees use right away.
Second, businesses using Viva today will be able to match Viva Insights data (how much time do you spend in meetings, your productivity) to direct employee feedback, engagement, and suggestion data. Data scientists who analyze data from Glint will sit next to data scientists who access data from Viva Insights. They will begin to see which behaviors, meetings and other activities promote employee retention, improve diversity and contribute to well-being.
Third, it significantly improves Microsoft Viva’s learning capabilities. Glint is not only a survey and listening system, it also provides action plans and development recommendations. In about a year, I bet all of this will be integrated into Viva Learning, making it easier than ever to “learn what you need to know” when employees are upset. The possibilities are limitless.
Finally, it means that Microsoft now has a highly skilled team of employee-focused I/O psychologists, organizational consultants, and data scientists all in one place. The Viva team, which was probably populated by many Microsoft software specialists, now has a large pool of HR, organizational and assessment experts.
Other sellers don’t stand still
This market is so hot that every supplier is investing. Perceptyx has just acquired Waggl, CultureIQ and Cultivate. Qualtrics just launched its EX25 model and told me that nearly 40% of all its revenue now comes from EX applications. Peakon is one of the fastest growing products at Workday. ServiceNow announced Listening Posts integrated into its platform. And Medallia is also doubling down on its EX product line.
When I talk to these vendors, I often hear growth rates of 40-60% year over year. And that makes sense. Every company in the world needs an employee listening platform, and old survey tools just haven’t been able to keep up. Businesses today want a system that handles many forms of feedback, crowdsourcing, natural language processing, as well as 360° feedback, real-time analytics, management dashboards, alerts and workflow management.
That’s why Microsoft’s decision is good. One of the biggest challenges for businesses (and HR) is getting regular, helpful feedback from employees. Glint, integrated with Viva, will make this easier than ever. Vendors like Qualtrics, Medallia, Perceptyx, Peakon, and Cultureamp are going to have to beef up their Microsoft integration plans.
Kudos to Microsoft for continuing to push the EX strategy. Hopefully these dev teams do an amazing job together – the upside could be huge.
Glint and LinkedIn Learning marry
Employee experience platforms: a new category is coming
The massive impact of Microsoft Viva