Citrix Synergy 2019 brought together two of my passions — people and technology.

It gave me the chance to talk directly with customers about partnering with IT to intentionally craft engaging employee experiences. I learned about productivity, performance, and the multigenerational workforce from thought leaders in the HR space. And I got to speak with press and industry analysts about the employee experience imperative — why it’s important and what it’s really all about.

Technology is one of several factors that drive a great employee experience. Citrix Workspace’s new intelligent capabilities, announced at Synergy, will help organizations to streamline tasks and activities and give employees a single entry point to the apps and data they use most often.

Why does this matter to an HR leader?

A tool like Citrix Workspace creates the space for people to engage with and focus on activities where they can add the most value. It eliminates distractions. And it truly leverages technology to enable the best employee experience and to help companies attract and retain the best talent. Paying attention to and making thoughtful, strategic investments in employee experience isn’t just the right thing to do, it drives business results.

Here are six things from this year’s Synergy that I plan to carry with me as I work with my colleagues and our Citrix partners to shape the future of work:

Madame Secretary

We were honored to welcome former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright as one of our Super Session speakers. I was struck by her leadership, courage, and diplomacy during times of great historical importance and the impact she had on world events. Through her words, I confirmed more deeply how intricately and globally interconnected we are and how we must think about the holistic impact of fixing a perceived problem or making a change. And we have to pursue positive compromise, where opposing parties can find common ground and make progress.

Motivating Factors

Motivation is the X factor in the employee productivity and engagement discussion, so I was excited to hear from Simon Bray, who shared concepts from Primed to Perform, a book by two of his Vega Factor colleagues. Their research showed that why we work determines how well we work. Unlocking motives around play (enjoyment of our work), purpose (deriving meaning from our work), and potential (growth through our work) will lead to improved employee performance and motivation and, in turn, better outcomes for customers.

Treating People as People

Meghan Biro of Talent Culture led an interesting discussion on the realities of the next-gen workforce. She emphasized the importance of finding commonalities among generations but avoiding stereotyping while treating individuals as, well, individuals. Relationships matter, and you can’t have a brand promise or employer value proposition that doesn’t deliver. Employees want feedback based on respect, purpose, and relationships, and nearly 75 percent of next-gen employees say they’ll leave if they don’t feel their work has purpose. Finally, more than 90 percent of next-gen talent indicate they’ll make a decision whether to join a company based on the technology available to them.

Living with No Barriers

Our second Super Session speaker was Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mount Everest. His striking account of his physical feats and the challenges he overcame, as well as his call to live a “no barriers” life, especially considering most barriers are self-imposed, resonated with me. He shared his concept of quitters, campers, and climbers — we choose to stop before we really get started (quitters); we reach a level of success and decide to stay there (campers); or we challenge ourselves every day (climbers). The type of person we choose to be determines the value we contribute, whether we drive innovation, and how we experience life.

Learning Through Partnerships

I had the chance to join Joe Verderame, our Vice President of Architecture and Operations, and hear from about 40 of our customers about how their employees are experiencing work and how to create partnerships between HR and IT. We learned about the importance of recognizing the different expectations of the five generations in the workface today. We were excited to hear about customers using employee feedback to learn about what matters most; innovation jams where employees make suggestions for improvements to streamline the technology they use every day; and cross-functional “pods” that work together to attract great talent. We also discussed the realities of remote work and how managers and employees can collaborate to ensure teams of remote workers are successful.

Serving Others

One of my favorite parts of Synergy each year is our work to serve the host community. This year, more than 600 customers, partners, and Citrites assembled 1,500 STEAM kits (that includes an “A” for art), which were distributed through the United Way of Greater Atlanta to children in underserved local schools. We also welcomed 34 students from two local high schools, who participated in the third annual Battle Bots competition. Our volunteers helped them with building, coding, testing, and battling their amazing robots. These activities are always a great reminder that a key component of the employee experience is working in service to others.

Your employee experience and the technology that drives it will be your competitive advantage. Citrix Synergy 2019 showed us the future of work and how technology innovations can empower employees and help you attract and retain the best talent.