Human Resources and Technology

Worksighted puts focus on future human skills

Technology company grows 20 percent in first half of 2017, adds new office on east side of Michigan.

July 14, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Mike Harris
Mike Harris helps employees focus on the next sets of skills they will need in an increasingly automated world. Photo by Johnny Quirin

Mike Harris and the rest of the leadership team at Holland-based Worksighted are positioning for the next wave of talent evolution.

Harris, the company’s co-founder and vice president, spoke with the Business Journal on the heels of the technology company growing more than 20 percent in the first half of 2017 by adding more than a dozen employees at its headquarters and recently opened Novi office.

Worksighted now has seven full-time employees in Novi and more than 65 employees in West Michigan. Harris said he focuses on hiring people who will grow with the company and who are customer-focused, which in turn helps the company grow.

“We’re growing across the entire state,” Harris said. “Customers see there is a company that understands the next generation of technology and that we’re people-focused. As we grow, it helps the customers grow, and as they grow, it creates new opportunities for us.

“It’s driving more and more growth.”

Among the ways Worksighted is driving internal growth is by continuing its focus on the employees, Harris said. As the technology world continues to advance, specific skills become outdated, so an engineer doesn’t stay relevant long with static knowledge.

Technology jobs are all about the ability to look at the next skill and “ratchet up the IQ ladder,” Harris said. As an example of how the industry will change, Harris said eventually companies won’t need to pay machine-learning programmers, because machines will do it better.

“Jobs are continually automated away,” he said. “The focus needs to be the next wave of skill sets that are uniquely human and are relational-focused. Everyone likes to think we’ll have a shortage, but if we rewire, we’ll realize it’s not about the talent but the way we can leverage talent within the companies.”

Worksighted’s expansion isn’t geographically constrained. Harris said Worksighted views the state as a whole and the ability to work from anywhere is fueling the expansion. He hinted at future expansions in Michigan or regionally but said the focus currently is continuing to grow the Novi and Holland offices.

“We’re a relationship-based company, and we want to be close enough we can cultivate and manage those relationships,” he said. “We’re looking to leverage talent wherever we can find it for the collective customer base; they don’t need to be physically in front of the customer to deliver the engineering services.”

Based on the continuing relationships, Harris doesn’t see the second half of 2017 being any different from the first six months. The company has hired across positions, ranging from back office jobs, such as purchasing and engineering, to field engineering to sales. Harris said he expects the company will hire another eight to 10 employees by the end of the year.

The company has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies five years in a row, with a sixth year likely, Harris said.

Harris equated the new Novi office as a return to the startup roots for Worksighted.

“It’s super fun and neat to go into a market where you’re focused on getting a new location off the ground while having a mature product and company culture,” he said.

As a growth-oriented company working with growth-oriented clients, Harris said the messaging of Worksighted will change a bit. Until recently, the company prided itself on being a West Michigan company. Now, it’s a Michigan company.

The company culture isn’t likely to fade, Harris said, as it was developed first unintentionally and grown organically through the people hired. For his role, Harris focuses on what it takes to allow employees to succeed at doing what they want to do, and it is “addicting to walk into an office like that.”

Because of that focus, Harris said Worksighted has a 95-plus percent engineer retention rate.

“It’s easy to let culture slip when you’re growing fast,” Harris said. “We’ve taken it in reverse, and the company is so culture-centric, we can keep up with the growth. We can jump over gaps other companies with weak cultures stumble on.

“People here grow up with the organization and harness opportunities to grow in the future.”

Worksighted has been a Michigan Best and Brightest Company to Work For six years in a row and a National Best and Brightest for two years.

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