How Citrix engages employees amid turbulence and transformation

Focus on transparency, clarity, brevity and meaningful business impact. Also, make messaging easier for managers, and give workers forums for candid feedback.

citrix employee comms award

If you were tasked with engaging and educating more than 9,000 employees working in offices around the world, where—and how—would you start?

For Citrix, which sells software designed to “reimagine employee experience by increasing productivity and engagement,” it boiled down to accomplishing something similar for its own workforce. However, telling a cohesive, clear and concise corporate story to such a diverse staff tasked with touting scores of different products required a highly strategic approach.

“In early 2018,” says Jason Vego, Citrix’s head of global employee communications, “we chose one overarching goal for Citrix Employee Communications: Engage employees around the Citrix story by giving them the information they need to help Citrix succeed, to boost overall engagement, as measured by the annual Global Employee Survey.”

Citrix’s comms team adopted a “two-pronged” approach to better engage employees:

  • Focus on Citrix strategy, storytelling and enterprise engagement: Tell a consistent story about our company, people and products to increase organizational alignment and support business performance.
  • Provide communications and messaging consulting support: Increase the cohesion of our messages globally by supporting internal programs with planning, execution and tactics.

If that sounds like a lot, it is. Citrix rejiggered its communication schedule and tweaked its tactics. Citrix communicators established a “Center of Excellence”—which unified the company’s previously siloed communications groups—to make sure all internal messaging was aligned and accurate.

Citrix’s team also redoubled efforts to craft snackable, breezy, graphics-centric content to cut through the corporate clutter, and they incorporated plenty of online content to accommodate and engage remote workers. This massive campaign netted first place in the Employee Engagement category of Ragan’s 2018 Employee Communications Awards.

Vego cites three key elements in rolling out the changes and announcements:

  • Employee meetings: We developed a new cadence and format for the Global Employee Meetings. They’re now held bi-monthly, broadcast live from Citrix locations globally to give people in-person visibility and connection with our CEO and executive leadership team. About 80% of employees watch the meeting either in person, at watch-together events, virtually or via the replay. Topics range from quarterly earnings to health and wellness. We incorporate live feedback and questions from our interactive Slack channel and webinar chat.

  • The intranet: Since all Citrix employees have email and web access, one of the primary channels we use to reach people is our intranet platform, Backstage. With a mix of daily news postings, profiles, helpful resources and tools, HR information and strategic content like Vision, Mission, Values, Backstage is the central source of information for employees.

  • Five-minute manager updates: These include one or two brief sections with actionable items for managers for that week, along with time-saving materials, such as pre-written emails, talking points, calendar invites and communication tips. In an audience survey, 84% of participants said it provides useful information, 88% agreed it helps them communicate more effectively, and 95% said it’s timely and relevant.

Vego says Citrix communicators also partnered with HR to promote new or updated corporate programs, such as:

  • Expanding parental leave to 18 weeks, a change that 95% of employees said benefited their family
  • Expanding the Employee Stock Purchase Program, so that 98% of employees could participate
  • Enhancing mentorship opportunities
  • Doubling corporate matching to charities
  • Adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veteran’s Day to the U.S. holiday calendar
  • Providing transgender and transition support, with insurance options and an employee-run inclusion program.

Citrix measured an 80% increase in its Employee Net Promoter Score from 2017 to 2018, which shows the lasting impact of these initiatives—namely improved flow of information.

“Through the ‘5-Minute Manager,’ and improvements to the Global Employee Meeting and intranet strategy,” Vego says, “we’ve made it easier for employees to find and engage with the information that helps them do their jobs better. It also helps managers spread the most important information through their teams—and research shows that one of the top ways employees want to receive information is through their manager.”

If you’re keen to boost engagement and prove the importance of your work, Vego says to home in on key metrics:

“My biggest piece of advice is to connect the work you’re doing to a clear business goal,” Vego says. “This is oftentimes really tough with internal communications, but I recommend you first pick specific business goals and metrics (for us this was specific companywide employee engagement metrics), then create projects that align directly with those business goals, and, lastly, measure and build on those projects to ensure they are working and getting you closer to reaching those business goals.”

Did your team craft a comms campaign you want the world to know about? Click here to learn about Ragan Awards.

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