Retain, train, and engage: HR practices now—with Courtney Moss, RadarFirst

At the foundation of virtually any successful business is a strong workforce training program. We’re talking about training that not only keeps the company productive and on the right side of the law, but truly engages and empowers employees.

So, how do you build that, exactly? What does it take to design training that meets your operational and legal requirements while setting employees up to bring their best selves to work every day?

We spoke to Courtney Moss, head of human resources at RadarFirst, to gain some insights. Courtney walked us through training for compliance, privacy, and productivity while also ensuring learners have career development opportunities in a safe, transparent, and inclusive environment.

Read the interview.

Jill McKenna:
Hi everybody. I am Jill, I’m the brand manager here at Ruby and I’m delighted today to be speaking with Courtney Moss. Courtney is the head of HR at RadarFirst. RadarFirst is a company that provides software for privacy incident management. Did I get that right, Courtney? Can you say a little bit about what you do?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, privacy incident response management. Yeah. So yeah, like you said, I’m the head of HR at RadarFirst. So we’re a pretty small company, so for me, that means kind of doing it all in the HR front, being the only HR person currently on board. So it’s everything from benefits to career development, to employee relations. Kind of anything that touches the HR function I will be a part of.

Jill McKenna:
Great, thank you so much. Thanks for being here today too.

Courtney Moss:
Yeah. Yeah, of course. Happy to be here.

Jill McKenna:
What would you say is the foundation of a good workforce training program?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, so, I mean, I think there’s a couple of things here, but I would say what’s really important about any training program is that it be consistent and that it can be sustainable over time, and that, of course, that it’s accessible. That I think with any training program, it also has to have the ability to evolve. So it can’t just be kind of a one and done, and then you never change it. I think the HR world is always changing, training is always changing, so making sure that anything that you build has that ability.

I also think it’s just really important to understand the needs and desires of your employees so that you’re actually building a training program that matters to them, is important to them. There’s a lot of different types of training, of course there’s compliance training and things like that, but any opportunity you have to tie training into career development I think is really important, just because I’m a big fan of career development, I think employees want and need more of it. So anytime you can pull those all together, that helps create a really strong foundation, because then you’re teaching your employees, then they also get some think out of it, which is important.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, and I’m sure that helps create a really strong bond of communication between you two.

Courtney Moss:
Oh, exactly. Yep.

Jill McKenna:
Then are there certain HR and training topics you’ve seen employers struggle with or overlook?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, so, I mean, I think I’ll always be the one to say this. I think that people are still kind of struggling with equity, diversity and inclusion training. I think it’s happening more, which is great, but still kind of figuring out what is the right thing for each company I think can vary quite a bit. Especially since it’s an uncomfortable topic, kind of figuring that out I think can be a struggle for people.

I think one of the other things people struggle with is making sure, or maybe that they overlook is making sure that you’re getting initial foundational and cultural type trainings. I think we always think about the compliance trainings, like are we doing our sexual harassment training? Are we doing our privacy training? But also making sure that people are trained on your specific culture, your specific policies and things like that is really important.

Then of course, I don’t say this just because I work at a privacy company, but I do think privacy and security training is really important for any tech company, because I think people’s data privacy is super important and I think it just helps when people understand what might come up and then what they need to do about it if there is some sort of privacy incident, because that’s not always clear. The clearer it is, obviously the safer it is.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, and it’s shocking how sophisticated, just on our end, receiving email, how sophisticated phishing is at this point.

Courtney Moss:
Oh exactly. Yeah, it’s always something new. As our laws evolve, so do the hackers, so do the scammers, so do the phishers. It’s kind of interesting to see that all come through.

Jill McKenna:
What are some of the biggest risk areas, HR risk areas for employers?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, so, I mean, I think kind of outside of some of the more obvious things like safety and risk management, I think all companies have to do that. It kind of varies a lot depending on the industry you’re in. I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just turnover and retention generally, because that feels like it’s the big topic for a lot of people right now, is are we at risk of losing our employees? Because this thing that they’re calling kind of the great resignation, every company is dealing with turnover right now.

So, it’s something that we’ve been talking a lot about at RadarFirst. I think every HR person I know has been talking about it, every recruiter I know has been talking about it and COVID and the pandemic has really changed the game on this. So just really trying to focus, not just culturally, but materially on what we’re doing to retain employees. I don’t know. It’s not kind of always the first thing that comes up with HR risk, but I think it’s the most common and important in this current climate, if that makes sense.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, everything’s still unfolding, so everything is so actively changing anyway, it’s just trying to hang on for what’s next.

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, everything just feels like there’s no precedent for it, so I can never give a solid answer of what’s going on, because none of us really know.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, that makes it especially very hard for HR folks who need to give answers to people.

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, exactly.

Jill McKenna:
So, RadarFirst helps large organizations with complex data privacy and security concerns. Many smaller businesses face similar challenges to that, but they can often lack the infrastructure to manage them as effectively as they need to and some larger firms can. What are some lessons that you’ve learned on the front lines or that your team has learned that could maybe help small businesses and the small business community?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, so I think there’s kind of a couple of things and dive into best practices for a training on this, but I think it’s important for people to remember that when it comes to protecting and securing data, it’s critical that as many people or everyone across the organization kind of knows what’s at stake. I think typically we talk about all the fines associated with making mistakes and kind of that failure to comply, which is of course important, but the main thing that is at stake is your reputation.

I mean, we all know the companies that have had big data reaches and the lack of trust we have with those companies now, so I think making sure that everybody has that understanding’s important. So, a shared mission across the company for prioritizing the protection of data is essential. I think we’ve seen a lot of companies in the last few years kind of build and rebuild their approach to internal training around data privacy to just ensure that all employees are operating on the same page, so training of course comes back into that.

Then I think you build sustainable efficiency when you put consistent processes in place. So again, that comes back to training. There always has to be consistency, you have to make sure it’s sustainable. Right now, it’s about building efficient processes that will be long-lasting. The world of data privacy, the world in general, but the world of data privacy and security is constantly evolving. Like you’re just talking about, hackers get more efficient and also privacy laws change all the time. They’re always kind of popping up, they’re very different from place to place.

So when your organization takes action to respond to a threat or mitigate risk, you’ll need to be asking how consistent are our processes? Do we do the same thing every single time? If you are doing that, then you have this defensible process in place, so that enables the organization to remain compliant with all of the ever-changing rules and regulations.

So I kind of just reiterate, best practices for training are the same, do it a lot, test people if you can, that’s important. Implement continued education, again, because things are always changing. Then a point that I think our privacy training team is good at is also celebrating training, because it can be annoying and arduous, but just making sure that you take the time to say, “Yay, we did those, take a break.” Feel celebratory about it is important.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, that definitely takes the salt out of having to do it.

Courtney Moss:
Yeah. Yeah, because it’s always maybe a few hours of a thing you have to do and really focus on when you know there’s other work to be done. So, I think always taking time for some joy and celebration is good.

Jill McKenna:
Especially now. Yeah, definitely. You had mentioned equity, diversity, and inclusion earlier. What are tips for creating an inclusive and welcoming culture in fast, small, young company that’s growing quickly and then also in this kind of day and age?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, I mean, I think what’s exciting about being a part of a fast growing company is that you can tackle this early on, hopefully. So, I think that’s kind of one of the biggest tips I’d give to people is decide what’s important as early on as you can, because of course it’s always harder to fix problems the further along you are. Then if it’s possible, to try to start including those pieces as part of your onboarding.

So I think the sooner you do it as a company is better, and then the sooner you start to fold people into that is better. So you can have maybe inclusive language guideline for folks, maybe have some sort of ally skills training for new employees. Something that I think is also just really easy for companies to do is just create some sort of equity plan, there’s a lot of really good resources out there, and then just share your progress on that consistently. We share our progress during our all company meetings, it could be through email if you’re using Slack or something like that.

Then the other key I think is just to really make sure that leadership gets it right away, and if at all possible to start to think about how you can really de-center certain things that … we’re doing things like the way we’ve always done them, just being flexible and open to kind of listening to all the multiple voices that are out there. But I would just say, yeah, do it early, get buy-in, continue training, all that good stuff.

Jill McKenna:
What advice would you give employers about empowering their employees to bring their best and truest selves to work?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, the idea of psychological safety is huge right now. I mean, it’s just huge. It should always be important. I think in order to really empower employees to do that, you as the company, as the leadership in the company has to create a safe space for that. Nobody’s ever going to bring their truest self, therefore their best self to the workplace if they somehow feel like that’s going to be punished.

I think the way that you can create that safe space kind of varies. So, I always kind of give this example just kind of from my personal experience, which is that I suffer from major depressive disorder, which means sometimes I just can’t work. I can’t do basic things, but at my company, how important mental health is and that those are very much included in our PTO days has been made really, really clear. So I know when I’m having a day like that, I can just comfortably say, “Hey, I’m having this episode, I’m feeling really depressed today. I’m going to use my time for this.”

I think the more that companies make that really clear, it’s being clear about your policies, but also being flexible with them is really, really important. I also think that the more that, again, leadership can be transparent is really important, because I think the more that people see their managers and the executive teams kind of sharing some of their struggles. I mean, not saying that people have to share everything, but kind of sharing a little bit of that makes people feel more comfortable, because, hey, if they can do that in this leadership position, then I can do that as this person.

So, I think it’s really just about it comes back to inclusive culture, it comes back to creating a safe space, and then, yeah, sharing what of yourself you can. Of course not crossing your boundaries, but sharing what feels good for you so that other people can feel comfortable doing that.

Jill McKenna:
Do you feel like emotional intelligence is increasing in the workplace? Do you feel like we’ve made those strides?

Courtney Moss:
That’s a good question. I mean, I want to say yes to that, because, I mean, I feel like at least in my organization it feels like it is a focus, but I also think remote work does make that a little more challenging, just because you’re not getting some of those same cues that you might in a person-to-person reaction. But I do think there’s a lot more general awareness around the importance of those things, versus just purely performance and things like that.

People are really starting to understand that their language really matters and the impact that that has on people. I think I’ve seen a good change of that in the last … definitely during the pandemic, but even before that I think people starting to have a great understanding, because they’re experiencing it more, right?

Jill McKenna:
In recruiting and dealing with job seekers, do you see them asking questions to that end more? How are they feeling out what the environment is like, what the temperature is like at any workplace?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, I mean, there’s definitely a lot more questions around flexibility, kind of how they’re making sure that employees’ needs are met when some people are remote, some people are in the office. I do think people are asking a lot deeper questions. I personally have started just leaving more space in interviews for people to ask questions, because I think candidates are starting to feel more empowered to just really get into the nitty-gritty. I hear a lot more about what are the challenges? What is the executive team like? How is that communication? Kind of questions that I don’t think I would’ve gotten two years ago. So yeah, I think so.

Jill McKenna:
That’s interesting, that’s very interesting. Like you said, it’s all unfolding and developing in real-time.

Courtney Moss:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think it’s great. I love when that leads to a really open conversation, because then it kind of creates a space for us as the interviewer to be more transparent too. So it starts the process of a lot of trust, which is awesome, because that kind of leads into more trust when you actually hire that person.

Jill McKenna:
Aside from going work from home, what do you feel like is the number one biggest change in HR in the last two years?

Courtney Moss:
Ooh, I mean, that’s a really good question. I kind of want to say there’s been a change even prior to work from home that perhaps work from home has accelerated, which is that I think HR kind of always has to have this line between meeting a lot of different stakeholder needs, as we all do, but kind of really wanting to empower employees, but also kind of keeping that business piece in mind.

But I do think there’s this greater push to really make sure that employee needs are met. I think that’s partially, again, because people are experiencing personally things they hadn’t experienced before. It’s also partially related to the job market. In order to stay competitive, you absolutely have to. Not to say that that should be a reason, but it’s competitive out there. I mean, recruiters are reaching out to our employees all the time. I’m sure that’s true everywhere. So I think it’s starting to feel a lot more employee-focused, which I think is really great personally, but I think it’s been a hard transition for some HR folks.

Jill McKenna:
Yeah, that makes sense. What do you love about what you do?

Courtney Moss:
Yeah, I mean, I like HR, because I feel like I want to fix some of the bad things that have happened to me in my career. Not that you can fix those, but just knowing that we all have to work a lot, we spend a lot of time in our workplace kind of dealing with whatever kind of comes up with that. I just want that to be nicer for people, so that’s why my job is fun. I want it to be nicer for me, I want it to be nice for the people I work with, I want it to be nicer for friends that work at other places, et cetera, because, yeah, if we’re at work a lot, it should be better.

I just really love being a part of that and kind of pushing a little bit and saying like, “Hey, why don’t we try this? Why don’t we try this?” Because HR is a world where I think very often things have just been done, because that’s the way they’ve been done. It’s fun to be able to say like, “Hey, or maybe let’s just try this.” Especially in the tech space, because people are always kind of pushing things and wanting to disrupt and change things, so I think it’s just nice to feel like you’re making that huge chunk of what people do just feel better. So, that’s why I like that.

Jill McKenna:
Great. Well, Courtney, thank you so much. If people want to know more about RadarFirst and what you all do, where should they go to?

Courtney Moss:
Lots of places. So definitely follow us on LinkedIn, because there’s always a lot of really good posts there, I think, especially that are just helpful about things that are changing or what’s new in the privacy space. Yeah, of course you can always check out our website. The world of privacy, it’s cool, but it kind of takes a while, I think, to really understand it. So I have personally found a lot of help from just diving into our site and reading the blog posts, because eventually you’re like, “Ah, I get it now.” So, those are the two main places we exist, I think, right now that would be helpful for folks.

Jill McKenna:
Great. Thanks so much, Courtney. Thanks for your time today, I really appreciate it.

Learn more about RadarFirst at radarfirst.com.

For more employee training resources, check out the Ruby blog.

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