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Microsoft to highlight improvements to the 'employee experience' in Feb. 4 event

Microsoft may be ready to unveil new Teams, Workplace Analytics, learning, HR and other capabilities in the name of improving the employee experience.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is holding a virtual event on Feb. 4, which it has entitled "Reimagine the Employee Experience." Kicking off at 9am ET, the event will focus on how users can "empower people and teams to be at their best," and will feature CEO Satya Nadella and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro, according to various official tweets this week.

I'm not going out on a limb in guessing that Microsoft Teams will be a big part of whatever is discussed, given the word "teams" is in Microsoft's own promotional materials. It's a safe bet that Microsoft's "Project Cortex" knowledge-management technologies also will be key to whatever is announced (again, based on a tweet from Naomi Moneypenny, hashtagged #projectcortex").

The event's save the date page has this description of the Feb. 4 event:

"Join us and discover our commitment to empower people and teams be their best at the Reimagine the Employee Experience digital event, Feb. 4, 2021, at 9am Eastern Time. See new ways to bring together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights with everyday work."

I wouldn't be surprised to see the already-announced-but-still-undelivered Teams learning app and possibly LinkedIn be part of this announcement. And the keyword "Insights," to me, implies some kind of talk around Workplace Analytics. Microsoft officials have focused during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on how tools and technologies can help with workplace wellbeing, and have played up things like meetings features like scheduling 1:1s, suggested tasks, and the ability to praise colleagues as examples. Officials also have talked up how Workplace Analytics can "boost employee engagement."

I've also found a few references to Microsoft building a new product suite that is focused on employee engagement. From a recent job posting for the "Employee Experience Team":

"Microsoft is embarking on a new effort to address the growing needs of employees around the world. We are building a product suite designed to address the fundamental shift in how people work, build their career, and find meaning in their workplace. We are looking for team members who are excited to join our team and make a difference.

Employee engagement is undergoing a fundamental shift in response to economic, demographic, and societal changes. People want to be excited about their work, be connected to their company culture, understand how to succeed, and feel supported across a spectrum of onboarding, skilling, coaching and mentoring. Our team is dedicated to examining the employee journey and delivering software and services to make it better.

The Employee Experience team is run as a start-up, encouraging team members to share a sense of 'founderism.' Team members engage directly with customers, iterate rapidly, and focus on solving the needs of employees around the world."

This team is working on how to better onboard, educate, create more useful employee profiles, coach and mentor employees, the job posting notes. I believe that signals that Dynamics 365 -- which includes human resource/human capital services and apps -- could figure in here, too.

Microsoft isn't sharing further details about the event at this time. With recent IPO excitement around Qualtrics and its "experience management" platform -- a key component of which is employee experience insights -- Microsoft may be raring to show it can play in this space, too.

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