World Market Customer Story

Learn how World Market transformed their company values with the support of QuestionPro's employee voice platform.

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World Market

Case Study: World Market

About World Market

World Market’s roots go back to the late 1950s when a San Francisco businessman turned traveler and importer began selling shiploads of hand-woven wicker from one of the city’s piers. In 1958 he turned his shiploads into a storefront on San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf. Today, with more than 200 retail stores across the U.S. and 5,000 employees, World Market continues to delight customers with an ever-changing marketplace of unique and beautiful home furnishings, décor, accessories, and exceptional gourmet products.

Business Challenge

In 2020 World Market faced a lot of changes, all at once. The Covid pandemic led them to evolve into a hybrid workplace, with all new safety protocols, having to pay particular attention to how they managed processes in their corporate office, stores, and distribution centers. At the same time, World Market was managing a divestiture from a former parent public company, transitioning to being privately owned. They were facing change in every sense of the word, across every vertical, as well as across the leadership team.

As workforce and customer demands and expectations continued to evolve, the senior team considered what the next chapter for the brand would be. The leadership recognized that “What got them here won’t get them there”. Therefore, they knew that taking a closer look at their values would be an important step in effectively managing the change they were going through.


While the leadership team was starting to think about their values, at the same time, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program was being formalized, and inclusion was very much at the forefront of the minds of the senior executive team. This project sparked an idea: The values project can be a way to provide a seat at the table to employees across the organization and to give a more equitable access to everyone for decision-making. Hence, the employee surveys and focus groups that would help define the values were a part of a bigger, strategic decision.

The World Market HR team launched an employee survey asking their associates for their input on the company values - how they felt about them, how they are brought to life, etc. Some of the results of the survey led to:

  • Redefined and cut down the number of values from six to three, with authenticity, respect, and empowerment as the new values. While they emphasized that the values are personal and they can feel different for everyone, they made sure they described them using the right words, because that was critical in driving the right behaviors.

  • Updating the mission statement, leveraging both customer and employee feedback.

  • Creating a new intranet and training programs, including other parts of the business and processes that previously went unnoticed but required attention.

The HR team knew, however, that the successful survey and rollout of the initiatives was just the beginning. Prior to changing their values, they asked employees if they knew what their values were, and about half said they knew them all, and the other half said that they knew just some. There were also differences in awareness, recall, understanding between the different business verticals, the corporate office, distribution centers, and stores.

As the next step following the survey, the team got to work to make sure that their new values and all their new initiatives were internalized in their culture. They achieved this by implementing several powerful and impactful actions:

  • Worked with executive sponsors to ensure they were promoters of the different initiatives. Some of the sponsors were the SVP of Stores, SVP of HR, Chief Merchandising officer, and the president of the company. Essentially, there were a lot of big players who were heavily invested in the organization and managed the largest teams who were invested in the project.

  • At the onset of the project, the HR team established an early partnership with the sponsors, which greatly helped them move the needle and get the buy-in needed to drive a message with everyone. Executive participation helped in every step of the process, from driving the participation in the survey and helping increase the response rate, by showing everyone in their verticals the importance of their voice.

  • On the pull-through end, these executive sponsors are the ones who presented at town halls, spoke at conferences, etc., which further inspired and validated the importance of why the employee input is so important and how HR was planning to action the results.

  • The HR team and the executive sponsors leaned into storytelling, making sure the employees relate their survey feedback to the ongoing actions being taken.

  • All of the employees who contributed to the initiatives and changes were thanked and recognized across the organization.

  • Messages were shared consistently across town halls, training sessions, lunch and learns. These changes were an ongoing part of the conversation, not a one-off announcement.
  • The new values became embedded in the organization’s DNA, being woven into the interview process, job descriptions, and the performance appraisal process.

  • The HR team also made sure that employees in each vertical had the same exposure and level of education around the new values. Historically they saw that there was a big difference in how each vertical socialized the values, how they were speaking about them, and they wanted to make sure there was the same experience across the company this time around.

Overall, the World Market HR team received a lot of positive feedback from employees that they were being asked for their input on these important strategic areas. With that, the HR team said that they don’t believe that prior to this survey, the employees would have expressed the same level of confidence that this level of action was going to be taken based on their opinions and voice. This means that even organizations that are still working on improving their employee listening strategies can achieve impactful, strategic results from their surveys.


“Every individual person, from cashier to CEO was empowered and given an opportunity to share their voice to shape our new company values. Our goal for this project was to make World Market an even better place to work than it already is for all of us.”

Eric Ortega Employee Experience Manager and Culture Coach at World Market

Another one of the critical takeaways that the World Market HR team had was the importance of being open-minded. They started with the assumption the values won’t change much, or envisioned what they may be, and with the data they realized that they were not what they expected, and that they had a lot of great learnings in there. They advise that the same goes for feedback. You may find what you have been doing isn’t working anymore, you may need to let go of something or rethink it.

The World Market team plans to run another survey in a year and based on their efforts of making this initiative front and center with their workforce, they expect to have better internalization of the values, especially as the employees helped define them and it was what they asked for, and that in turn, it will have played a significant part in helping them drive cultural change. Change is not easy to make, but they are here because we care and want to make the effort.

Why QuestionPro Workforce was a valuable partner to World Market on this project

For a project of this importance to be executed successfully it needs to be done with a lot of thoughtfulness and commitment. Without that, it’s impossible to see the results that the World Market is seeing. The right technology can be a great ally on this path, to help an organization focus on what’s most important in project execution, and help them propel the project forward. Below are a few examples of how the World Market leveraged QuestionPro Workforce technology as a part of this important initiative, and how they collaborated with the QuestionPro team to support them along the way.

  • Survey Design: QuestionPro’s Customer Success team worked together with the World Market HR team to build the survey into the Workforce platform.

  • Managing Employee Directory: The two teams collaborated on managing and updating the employees' information in the survey platform’s employee directory to ensure a smooth survey deployment.

  • Branding: Made sure the look and feel of the survey was an exact match to the brand, by adding the logo, inputting custom colors, and font as per World Market's brand guidelines.

  • Response rate tracking: World Market was able to track their completion rate by demographic segments in real time, helping them encourage and drive up participating statistics for the survey while the responses were being collected.

  • Post Survey Analysis and Insight Creation: The QuestionPro Workforce team assisted in extracting the results from the platform to make sure World Market could maximize the insights from their data.

  • Continuous Conversation & Partnership: Questionpro Workforce Customer Success team worked together closely with the World Market team to assist them throughout this study.

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