Building A Workforce With A Foundation Of Trust

Conley Henderson McIntyre Headshot
c/o Conley Henderson McIntyre
For Conley Henderson McIntyre, the VP of people for cybersecurity company Virtru, ‘It’s crucial to approach satisfaction proactively.’

If there’s anyone who gets the value of trust, especially in our digital age, it’s a cybersecurity company. And for Virtru, a Washington, D.C.-based data encryption provider, that trust applies to more than just the services they provide—it goes to the core of the organization.

Conley Henderson McIntyre, vice president of people at Virtru, fosters that trust  through a people-first culture, where job satisfaction isn’t a metric to be chased as people are already out the door, but grown from within.

What’s the best way to develop a corporate culture in a fast-growth organization?

I joined Virtru in 2018 to build our talent function from the ground up. We grew quickly, and we continue to rapidly scale.

It’s essential when you’re growing quickly to establish a clear culture and core values. Virtru provides cybersecurity solutions to industries including healthcare and education, as well as federal, state and local governments. We’re a mission-driven company. We’re passionate about making the world a safer and better place.

By establishing those values, we can identify new hires who not only have job-specific skills but also share our mission-driven approach. That mutual fit is crucial to ensuring our employees’ success—both within Virtru and for themselves.

It’s also important to articulate your culture in a simple way. At Virtru, we’ve homed in on five core values: We care, we collaborate, we inspire, we pioneer and we have fun.

Those value statements reflect the fact that although we sell products, we’re a people-first organization. We reinforce our values with awards programs to recognize individuals who exemplify what it means to be a “Virtruvian.”

Virtru has been named a Washington Post Top Workplace solely based on employee feedback. What are best practices to keep employee satisfaction high?

Employee satisfaction is important for several reasons. Employee satisfaction equals employee retention, and I believe it’s crucial to approach satisfaction proactively. Many companies solicit feedback only during exit interviews. In contrast, Virtru constantly gauges how our people are doing and feeling.

We conduct an extensive annual interview with every employee. We ask questions in categories from motivation to work-life balance. We also do quarterly engagement surveys using the Gallup Q12 survey.

In addition, every employee is assigned to someone on the People Team who checks in quarterly to see how they’re doing. It gives employees an opportunity to open up in a way they might not with their manager.

To that end, it’s essential to create a work environment where people feel psychologically safe. Employees will speak honestly about their experiences if they feel they can do so without retribution.

A year or so ago I took part in a webinar in which participants lamented they can’t get employees to provide feedback. At Virtru we have the opposite situation. And that’s exactly what you want: People who feel a level of trust to provide constant feedback.

How do you ensure the security of employee data?

Access to employee data is governed by strict policies and is restricted to only authorized individuals. Data is encrypted both when it’s stored and when it’s transmitted.

But data privacy goes beyond technology. Because we’re always thinking about privacy, a secure mindset has become part of our culture. We’re strict about upholding confidentiality in all our policies and processes.

For instance, employee feedback is viewed only by the small handful of people who need to see it. If any feedback is appropriate to share more broadly, we anonymize it, and we check with the employee to be sure it’s OK to share the anonymized feedback. It goes back to maintaining a level of trust that keeps employees engaged.

Virtru just announced a new office space. What’s required from an HR standpoint to ensure that the move is a success?

When we built out our original office in 2018, the world looked very different from today. We’re planning and building out the new office around the new way we work. We need to ensure the space both facilitates hybrid work and makes people feel engaged and productive when they’re working in the office.

We started by thinking through the purpose of an office today. We thought about what would make an employee take the time and effort to commute to an office when they could work from home. A lot of that answer boils down to collaboration.

In-person collaboration can be more engaging and productive than remote collaboration. But we wanted to include robust technology so that people who aren’t at the office can participate at the same level. And we want to balance collaborative space with quiet spaces where people can do heads-down work.

So, we’ll have space dedicated to collaboration, to whiteboarding and innovation. We’ll also have closed spaces with adequate soundproofing for individual work. And there will be space dedicated to fun, where employees can take a break and engage in casual conversation.

It all comes back to culture. Our office, like our organization, should embody our core values. Whether you’re talking about the Virtru office or Virtru as a company, it’s where people want to come because they feel it’s where they can perform at their highest level.

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