Ken Moses – Cascade Environmental

Laying the groundwork for a better employee experience

After studying psychology in college, Ken Moses says he developed the ability to read people and understand what a person does and doesn’t want.

Throughout his career in human resources, he says he’s learned that employees want a safe work environment and a company that treats them with respect, provides an opportunity for growth and gives them an opportunity to build a career.

“Our goal has always been to show employees that this isn’t just a job, but that there is a career that can be built here,” says Moses, the chief people officer for Cascade Environmental. “It’s our people that set us apart.”

Cascade Environmental, based in Bothell, Washington, is a drilling and remediation services provider. The company has over 800 employees in 36 locations throughout the U.S. Hiring and retaining its employees is a priority for Moses and Cascade.

When Moses joined the company in 2017, he brought more than 20 years of experience in human resources. He says if Cascade wants to continue to expand its offerings and its reach, it’s going to need him and the HR department to find and keep the employees who can make that happen.

A nice place to work

Moses says it’s the people, partnerships and quality of work that keep clients coming back to Cascade Environmental.

Most of the company’s hiring is for skilled labor, he says. Cascade is competing not just against other environmental companies, but also against companies that provide opportunities for employees to work indoors and go home every night.

“The war for talent is prevalent within the environmental industry” Moses says. “Our jobs are outside in the elements and employees travel and can be away from home for periods of time.”

In 2021, Moses and the recruiting team redefined its recruiting process with a new method that tiers candidates based on skills and experience. It also designates and trains employees in the field as screeners. This allows more strategic involvement from operations in the screening of candidates, Moses says. Overall, the timeline from when a candidate applied to when they start working for Cascade went from 29 days to 18 days.

In 2022, Moses and his team continued focusing on improving the candidate experience and breaking down bottlenecks, such as candidate ghosting. The changes to the process and additions to the staffing team have resulted in nearly double the number of new employees. Achieving the company’s hiring target is becoming more attainable as time goes on, Moses says.

“In 2023, we will continue to improve the effectiveness of the hiring process by utilizing artificial intelligence to help with the overall process and identifying predictors of success,” he says.

Being a human resource

Recruiting quality talent will remain a top priority but bringing those people into the company doesn’t mean much if they don’t stay, Moses says. He and his team have rolled out various surveys over the years to ensure managers have an employee centric leadership approach and focused on caring for their employees.

“If employees don’t feel like their manager cares about their growth and development and there is the potential to move up in the company, they are less likely to stay long term,” Moses says.

A retention-focused survey targeting its field workforce was rolled out in August 2022, and the company had a 66 percent response rate.

The results confirmed Moses’ assertions. About 73 percent of employees who stated their manager cared about their growth and development also indicated they were likely to stay with Cascade. When the employee said their manager did not care about their growth and development, only 20 percent indicated they were likely to stay with Cascade.

“Moreover, employees whose manager cares about their growth and development had engagement scores that were 70 percent higher,” Moses says.

Additionally, in 2023 Moses is focusing on increasing Cascade leaders’ skills to help retention. As a company, Cascade needs to provide competitive wages and benefits and a safe work environment just to be in the game. But Moses says the X factor is the leadership.

At its recent leadership meeting, over 70 people learned about their leadership tendencies by taking the DiSC leadership assessment.

“We spent half a day learning about ourselves and becoming more aware of our tendencies. Being a better leader starts with knowing yourself,” Moses says. “Our leaders viewed this half day as one of the highlights of the entire event.”

To build on the momentum, the company is developing leadership classes focused on the DiSC leadership competencies and will be providing targeted leadership development and coaching to some of its leaders. Creating impactful programs at Cascade has been a highlight of his career, Moses says—a career that started decades ago with the same goal of helping a company’s employees.

Working with people

Moses earned a degree in developmental psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. While he was initially considering going to law school, a mentor professor suggested he consider HR. He took that advice and earned a master’s degree in organizational psychology from California State University, Long Beach.

His career in human resources began in 1989, but in 1993, he started on his managerial path at BAX Global, where he spent nine years. Moses then worked for almost three years for James Hardie Building Products. He spent about eight years working for Quest Software and two years for Penhall Company before joining Cascade Environmental as its executive vice president of human resources in February 2017. He became the company’s chief people officer in September 2019.

“Half my career has been in high tech, while the other half has been in blue collar industries, and I believe these different experiences have helped me become a better HR leader,” Moses says. “I’ve also been fortunate to have mentors who not just provided counsel but trusted me.”

View this feature in the Vol. III 2023 Edition here.


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