How Microsoft Teams Apps like Breakthru Improve Employee Wellness

How Microsoft Teams Apps like Breakthru Improve Employee Wellness

Dec 5, 2023 | Office Technology, Microsoft 365

In this new era of hybrid work with more chats, more meetings, and longer days, employees are looking for ways to improve their focus, mood, and wellness. What if I told you that movement-driven “microbreaks” of only two minutes could provide that lift and help you be more productive? That’s the idea behind Microsoft Teams app, Breakthru

According to Breakthru, the app uses interactive microbreaks created by movement experts to help improve cognitive focus, productivity, and wellbeing. Because it’s in Teams, where employees are already working, using Breakthru can aid them in rebooting their metabolism between meetings or refocusing after long periods of concentration. That makes it easy to establish and maintain a break-taking practice.

Meanwhile, the Breakthru app in Teams is available to more than 300 million potential monthly active users in 500,000 organizations. Finding the right audience is critical for independent software vendors (ISVs), and just three years after launching on Teams, Breakthru reaches more than 45,000 organizations worldwide, with a growing customer base.

Microsoft Teams apps

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Breakthru used four valuable tactics to increase engaged users while enhancing employee wellbeing and productivity: pinning to the Teams app bar, encouraging users to share, harnessing data to tailor features, and taking advantage of the Microsoft ecosystem. We’ll show how other ISVs can follow Breakthru’s example to drive app usage and increase customer acquisition.

Pinning to the Teams app bar helps Breakthru offer wellbeing in the flow of work

Breakthru pairs research-backed movement breaks with nature-inspired visuals and sounds. The app sends reminders to encourage employees to start a practice that can increase workplace engagement and counteract burnout, according to Breakthru. Enterprises can promote physical and mental wellbeing and help improve employee morale.

Unlike other wellbeing tools, Breakthru in Teams exists within the flow of employees’ work. “Building a truly useful modern work tool requires seamlessly incorporating it into the modern work environment,” says Breakthru Founder Melissa Painter.

A screenshot of the Breakthru app, prompting users to pick which mood type they'd like to play

Breakthru also offers the ability to share breaks and then participate with colleagues. That’s important for Breakthru’s business model, which we’ll cover later, and it can be an effective tool for high-stress, fast-paced jobs. For example, healthcare employees often struggle with self-care.

“Breakthru only requires a fraction of the day, and medical workers can support each other’s wellbeing right from Teams. That provides an incredible return for a healthcare company seeking to better the workplace.”

Melissa Painter, Breakthru Founder

Breakthru’s customers include the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Painter and Nic Saunders, a Microsoft Customer Success Manager (CSM), introduced the app to the NHS England NHSmail Centre of Excellence, the national secure collaboration service for health and social care, which focuses on transforming the way health services work together.

“Micro movements to improve mental health shone through, and the app was so simple to use that our team knew we had to get this out,” says Gemma Rogerson, NHS England Lead Delivery Manager. “NHS employees can now give their colleagues the gift of time and positive movement.”

Teams can also help ISVs deploy apps for maximum impact with users. One customer recently completed a soft launch of Breakthru simply by pinning it to the Teams app bar, without any internal announcement. Within eight hours, 20 percent of employees used the app, the customer’s highest rate ever.

Sharing microbreaks in Teams helped Breakthru build a global user base

As a startup, it was important for Breakthru to expand its subscriber base organically, and the sharing functions in Teams accelerated the company’s product-led growth strategy.

A screenshot of the Microsoft Teams app Breakthru, showing a group break session

When employees share breaks, it drives organic adoption and higher user counts within enterprises—crucial for increasing Breakthru’s subscriber base. Encouraging workers to share apps via Teams can also help ISVs gain new users. Breakthru allows users to try the app and share with coworkers without a full subscription, helping employees maintain their wellbeing while the app develops a user base. Then Breakthru can follow up with the organization’s leadership to showcase how employees are enjoying it.

“Many executives are anxious about buying apps that their employees don’t use,” Painter says. “It’s refreshing to go into a meeting and say, ‘We know your employees will use and share Breakthru because they’re already doing it in Teams right now.’”

Between September 2022 and May 2023, Breakthru increased the number of active monthly tenants in Teams by about 25 percent.

Data from Azure informs Breakthru features that increase usage

Breakthru is built on Microsoft Azure, and the staff analyzes data within Azure Monitor Application Insights to make product decisions and find patterns to fuel new customer acquisition. They study anonymized user behavior to understand product launch differences, and they look at which features and onboarding models help develop dedicated users.

Anytime they see a feature influencing behavior and making the app stickier, they enrich those aspects of the product. Data from Azure showed that when people first encountered the app, a vast majority used the reminder function to set a time to try it later. Since then, the company added gamification capabilities to help with adoption, and a recent redesign drove a usage spike.

Breakthru has further increased usage by developing relationships with many CSMs, who serve as extra boots on the ground. The CSMs also pass customer feedback to Breakthru to continue improving the product. In early March, Breakthru added “breathing breaks,” a user-requested feature that could help attract new customers.

Microsoft helps simplify the sales process and increase deal velocity

In early 2023, Breakthru earned Microsoft 365 Certification to show potential customers that the app meets stringent standards for security and compliance. Navigating an organization’s technical requirements should now only require a few weeks rather than months, accelerating the sales and deployment process.

Breakthru is also extending across the Microsoft 365 environment through Viva Connections and planning to add breaks in Outlook.

“As a small, agile team, it’s an incredible advantage to launch a product that lands in so many major enterprises because we’re operating inside this world-class ecosystem.”

Melissa Painter, Breakthru Founder

The relationship with Microsoft helps accelerate innovation, too. This past summer, Painter and her team visited The Hive, Microsoft’s workplace lab, to test Breakthru in Teams Rooms, which are hybrid-centric yet full-sized spaces outfitted with Teams technology. By combining those innovative spaces with Breakthru’s app, the team was able to create Wellbeing Rooms, which will allow employees to use their own devices to turn unused conference rooms into digital and sonic environments for immersive movement breaks.

The test offered an exciting preview of how Breakthru and Teams will continue evolving together to improve the workplace experience.

Learn more about collaborative apps in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft 365 is a rapidly evolving ecosystem of cloud applications.  Keeping up to date on all matters Microsoft can be a challenge.  As one of the region’s top Microsoft Partners, Inacom has a dedicated Microsoft 365 practice to help clients get the most from their digital transformation into the cloud.  To learn more, give us a call at 410.543.8200.

Travis Fisher

Travis is Inacom’s Executive Vice President, tasked with assisting customers with their web based marketing initiatives. He’s kinda famous for his BBQ. He lives in Easton, MD with his amazing wife, two kids, and two dogs.


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