Winning It for the Workers

Why Workrise is driving a cultural reset.
Written by Olivia McClure
August 20, 2021Updated: August 20, 2021

Guided by the mission to “empower the people who get hard work done,” Workrise is in the midst of a cultural transformation. The company is redefining culture from the inside out by banding together around the workers they serve; workers who have defined the heart of their company since its inception. 

“That’s been our North Star all along,” said Senior Director of Culture and Enablement Candice Knight. 

 

WHAT THEY OFFER

The Workrise platform makes it easier for skilled tradespeople to find work, serving a variety of industries, including construction, solar energy, and oil and gas. 

 

As the company continues to grow quickly, the team is committed to refining its culture, bringing into focus another crucial aspect of the new culture: the employees. 

“We’re accelerating our business by investing in our employees,” Knight said. 

What does that investment plan look like? Integrating employees more closely with the company’s values, which will provide more individual empowerment and ownership. According to Workrise Head of Product Shane Kinder, these are key culture drivers the company aims to instill in its people. 

“We’re focused on how we can set up a structure that allows our team to be successful, escalate issues, and hold themselves accountable,” Kinder said. 

For CEO and Co-founder Xuan Yong, creating an empowering and supportive internal structure means having a greater ability to “win it for the workers” they serve and drive their mission forward.

 

Workrise company office

 

From Startup to Scale-Up

With the goal to put 1 million skilled people to work by 2030, the company is shirking its startup status for a more intentional strategy and culture. 

“We have always known who we are — driven by our mission and achieving results,” Knight said. “Now, we’ve taken our DNA and expanded and clarified it so that we can build our operating model around it.” 

With a clearer cultural vision, the company is leaning into their “learn and grow” value, investing heavily in growth and career opportunities for employees. According to Yong, employees are a central component of the organization’s new value proposition. 

“There’s a reason why a lot of smart, driven people join the business,” Yong said. “There are a ton of career opportunities and challenges that team members can start solving on day one, and I think a focus on learning is a combination of what employees desire the most and what aligns with the strategic roadmap for the company.”

In addition to the “learn and grow” value, that roadmap includes values such as “own the mission,” “raise the bar” and “solutions over egos.” The intention is for these values to become practices that provide a blueprint for how the mission and vision are accomplished.

 

THE SEARCH FOR TOP TALENT

According to Yong, Workrise is currently searching for “world-class talent” to join its team of passionate, purpose-driven individuals. The company has dozens of open roles spanning many departments, including design, engineering and finance. 

 

In order to fulfill their plans for cultural transformation, the company is relying heavily on its newly established culture and enablement team, which Knight leads. The team’s charter centers around driving results, purpose and learning. 

“We’re setting the vision for culture and enabling change by walking alongside employees every step of the way,” Knight said.

According to Knight, it’s vital for the team to find ways to ensure new hires are familiar with and fully invested in the culture. That’s why employees can expect to see more training, leadership development, coaching and career opportunities pop up across the company. 


Workrise company office

 

Putting Words Into Action

It’s one thing to simply write a set of values, but Workrise wants to do more than that. The company wants to take those words off the page and make them a concrete part of how employees get things done everyday. 

In Yong’s mind, the values themselves are designed to be actionable. For example, rather than just restating the mission, employees are asked to take ownership of it with their “own the mission” value.  

 

We’re setting the vision for culture and enabling change by walking alongside employees every step of the way.”

 

“We prioritize the workforce first and we take initiative to solve problems and own results from start to finish,” Yong said.

And it’s working. During a recent meeting about goals for the next quarter, there were several important initiatives cued up, and the team was unsure which to prioritize. An employee shared their experience visiting a job site the week prior, during which time they observed the challenges workers were facing firsthand and what was most important to them.

The result? Clear priorities based on the needs of workers.

 

A TANGIBLE CONNECTION

The Workrise team understands that their mission is what attracts many people to the organization. That’s why the team has started gathering stories from the field, sharing them both internally and externally, and setting up access to site visits to give office employees the chance to experience the work firsthand, Knight said. These efforts echo the feelings of Yong, who is committed to making sure team members understand the hard work happening in the field. “We are very focused on building a platform that best serves a class of people who, frankly, our country has taken for granted for too long,” Yong said. “It’s about creating opportunities for employees to have worker empathy.”

 

The company also encourages employees to “raise the bar” in everything they do, making sure to create a supportive and motivating environment, which allows them to do that. The “learn and grow” value works hand-in-hand toward that aim. According to Yong, this is why a growth mindset is a must for anyone eager to join the company. 

“Our ideal candidate has to be open-minded and resilient, while having the ability to embrace change and iterate rapidly,” Yong said. 

Lastly, the “solutions over egos” value means decisions are made based on data and people work together toward the best solution. According to Knight, the best ideas always win, regardless of an employee’s job title. 

Kinder agreed, adding that a lack of ego is crucial to innovation. 

“We want smart people that have hypotheses, but we also want people that adapt and pivot to the facts on the ground,” Kinder said. 

 

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