Why Microsoft Isn’t the Right Internal Communication Platform for Frontline Workers - theEMPLOYEEapp

Why Microsoft Isn’t the Right Internal Communication Platform for Frontline Workers

Why Microsoft Isn’t the Right Internal Communication Platform for Frontline Workers

Last updated on December 19, 2022 at 05:59 pm

Over the last few years, we have seen a rush of app providers promise to be the internal communication platform for frontline workers. Solutions like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Yammer, and Microsoft Viva Engage promise collaboration and connection, but these apps just do not deliver on the promise of effective communications for frontline workers.

An Internal Communication Platform Gone Wrong

So, why are Microsoft’s internal comms solutions the wrong fit for frontline workers? Let’s take a closer look at each of Microsoft’s products.

Microsoft Teams for Frontline Workers

Let’s look at Teams first. In their own marketing copy, Microsoft calls Teams a tool for “Video Conferencing, Meetings, Calling.” But these internal comms solutions are really suited for desk workers. Video calls and peer-to-peer chat collaboration is not something your warehouse managers or third shift assembly team need to do their jobs. 

Teams launched in 2017 and has largely remained the same as a chat-based internal communication platform. However, it hardly resembles a robust communications app designed for frontline employees. Yet they continue to market it as a frontline worker communication solution. 

Microsoft Yammer

As for Teams’ cousin, Yammer, they claim to be the “Enterprise Social Network.” 

Are we ready for that? 

Yammer promises to be a “collaboration tool that helps you connect and engage across the company. Start conversations, share knowledge, and build communities.” Collaboration, connection, and engagement….all looped into another Office 365 subscription. But, again, the way Yammer works is more suited for a deskbound worker. Frontline teams don’t need Office 365. They don’t need a peer-to-peer chat. 

Not to mention, most “enterprise social media” falls short. Companies don’t need to—and frankly cannot—replace social media internally for their employees. It does not build culture as well as good benefits, the right values, and a psychologically safe environment. It’s all marketing, and many companies fall for it. 

A recent study from Swoop Analytics on Yammer and Viva Engage usage shows just what a frustrating place Yammer has become. The report finds “while 80 – 85% of staff are accessing Yammer, almost 60% are reading only—they don’t post, comment, or react. 17% are mildly active “observers,” leaving just 10% with active personas.” 

Microsoft Viva Engage

That brings us to the most recent Microsoft announcement for yet another internal communications product: Viva Engage. 

Viva Engage takes what Yammer started for posts and social engagement and repositions it to resemble large social networks like Meta, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The understanding is that Viva Engage will then become the Viva Engage Team app, taking the chat function from Teams and replacing the Microsoft Community App, becoming a gateway to Yammer. All of which is eventually going to be a concoction named Viva Engage.

Let’s pause there.



Putting Employee Apps into Perspective

The focus is lost. The core of your employee communications app strategy needs to be rooted in the efficiency and effectiveness of the tools and technology into tools that your entire workforce can use and access. 

Microsoft apps are desktop-focused and not frontline inclusive. Just think about it. You would be asking a frontline worker to download 2 – 3 mobile apps for work communications only. This is in addition to other apps they might be using for their specific job. This just doesn’t make sense.  

Deploying a suite of apps takes a significant amount of funding, involvement from IT, senior leadership time, and resources. Is it worth it?

How to Choose the Right Internal Communication Platform for Frontline Workers

To choose the right employee app for your deskless workforce, you should start by examining what these employees have access to in the first place.

We recommend doing an internal comms audit at least once a year. This will help you see what messages and channels frontline workers have access to today compared to what they should be receiving.

Our clients have all chosen mobile apps for employee communication because:

  • Their deskless employees don’t have access to an Intranet or VPN
  • Most deskless workers don’t have a corporate email address tied to a Microsoft 365 or Gmail account
  • They rely heavily on shared workstations, tablets, or old-school bulletin boards for communication

It’s time to reduce the noise and focus on what matters: efficient communications delivered directly to your workforce and not through messages and social posts dotted across multiple platforms, that not all workers have access to in the first place.

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