How To Hire And Retain Employees Based On Culture Fit?
You might come across a candidate with a spectacular resume or an employee who has mastered their skills. But if they're not the right culture fit, they might not be the right choice for your organization.
Let me explain with an example-
Apple and Google, for instance, have different work cultures. Apple strictly adheres to a hierarchical and functional structure. An intense focus on excellence, secrecy, and a sense of ownership over products characterizes their company culture.
In contrast, Google has a more relaxed and flexible culture. They focus on innovation, creativity, transparency, and collaboration.
An individual who prefers a more structured environment may feel overwhelmed and out of place at Google. This will lead to poor teamwork and motivation, ultimately resulting in reduced performance. However, the same person may thrive and adjust better to Apple's work culture.
But how do you determine the right culture fits among your employees or new hires? What makes a person a cultural fit for your organization? And most importantly, does it really matter?
Well, let's dive a little deeper into the concept of culture fit to find these answers.
What is Culture Fit?
Culture Fit refers to the alignment of employees with your organizational culture. It is the degree to which your employee's or potential hire's values and behaviors align with your company's core values and behaviors.
Cultural fit is typically conceptualized as the individuals' acting in ways that conform to normative expectations defined by the shared beliefs, assumptions, and values of organizational members
– Gideon Kunda
Many companies misunderstand cultural fit as a person they would like to hang out with. At the same time, some others can be seen using it as an excuse for unconscious or conscious gender, racial, and other discriminations.
However, the real meaning of it is far beyond these narrow, biased interpretations. It is a measure of how well a person would fit in with your existing organizational culture.
Let me break it down further.
To understand the concept of company culture fit, you must consider both your employee's cognitive and behavioral aspects. The cultural fit for your organization will hold a similar set of mental representations and belief systems as your organization. At the same time, they will comply with your behavioral expectations.
The following Reddit thread is a great example of what culture fit really means:
Why is Culture Fit Important For Organizations?
Employees who fit well with the organizational culture are more likely to be committed, engaged, and motivated to their work. Ultimately leading to better productivity and increased performance.
Employees who are not a good cultural fit for your organization may feel isolated. This may lead to lower levels of performance and motivation.
Poor culture fits might even cause disharmony among your teams and influence other employees away from your organization's values. Resulting in a reduction in overall company productivity and performance.
Don't just take our word for it - we've got the stats to back it up. Check out these eye-opening numbers found by The Robert Walters Group:
- 98% of leaders and 97% of employees agree that cultural fit is important.
- 73% of employees said they had left a job due to poor cultural fit.
- According to 81% of hiring managers, candidates who fit the culture are more likely to stay in the organization for the long run.
- 85% of employees said they would perform better as a culture fit.
- 64% of employees mentioned poor cultural fit as a reason for hating their job, and
- 74% of employees feel that poor cultural fit causes a lack of motivation.
Benefits of Having a Defined Cultural Fit for Your Organization.
Here are some advantages of hiring and retaining good culture fits-
Higher employee retention:
When employees fit well within the organization, they find a sense of belonging, and employee satisfaction also gets a boost. In a Glassdoor survey, 22% of employees said that company culture and core values are the number one factors for employee satisfaction. And happy employees are more likely to stay with the organization.
Save you time, money, and resources:
Research shows that a bad hire can cause you to waste upto 27 weeks of your time and cost you around 1.5 to 3.5 times your annual salary.
We can teach someone to do a job. We can't teach someone to love the way we operate.
- Lauren Kolbe.
Well, do the math. When you hire for culture fit, this cost, effort, and resource spent on constantly hiring and training new employees get reduced.
A cohesive team that shares similar values, beliefs, and work styles works together more effectively. This results in better teamwork, collaboration, and improved morale. Therefore better performance.
When your employees have similar communication styles, better communication, and collaboration will follow. This will reduce the chances of misunderstandings, resulting in fewer conflicts among your teams.
However, you can't see culture fit as your organization's all-in-one solution for conflict resolution. You still need to have processes in place to address conflicts when they arise. And culture fit is one such process.
How to Assess Your Culture Fit?
Well, let's be honest. Determining whether an employee or a potential hire is a great culture fit is as hard as trying to swim against a strong current.
Why? Because the "culture fit" is multi-dimensional and multifactorial. Although the behavioral perspective of the cultural fit is easy to approach, the cognitive aspect is more difficult to address.
But no worries. I am here to make the process easier for you.
Start with clearly defining your culture (if you haven't done already)
Your company culture is more than team-building activities, spirit week celebrations, catered lunches, and other perks and benefits. It's about what your organization stands for, the values you promote, and the goals you want to achieve.
Start with defining the company's goals, mission, and vision. Next, define core values that will serve as the foundation of your company culture. Also, do some research on what your competitors are doing.
Based on these steps, define what your ideal company culture would look like.
Related: Do you feel lost and need inspiration from companies that have aced the game? Read this blog on company core values examples.
Define expected behaviors
Tie cultural values to specific behaviors. This includes clearly defining the behaviors you want to reward, punish, and tolerate. Without this step, identifying cultural fit can become a case of guesswork. Moreover, it also helps your employees to understand your expectations.
Reward these behaviors and incorporate them into your reward and recognition system to get the best results.
If you don't already have a recognition system in your organization, I would highly recommend one. Wondering how it is going to help you find the organizational culture fit?
Well, an R&R solution like Vantage Circle will give you insights into
- Which employees are recognized often for which values?
- What values are employees not recognized for?
- Who are the people who have not been recognized for exhibiting the expected values in a while?
Do a culture audit.
The next step will be to understand the health of your present organizational culture. To make sure everyone is on board, conduct employee surveys consistently.
A. Conduct Surveys:
To ensure your employees are on board, conduct pulse surveys. And do it consistently.
Pulse Surveys can be especially helpful in gauging how employees view and feel about your current organizational culture. It's also a great means of creating employee awareness about what behaviors you emphasize and why it is such a big deal for your organization.
In these surveys, ask your employees what they like or want to change about your present organizational culture. Analyze these survey results at the end and repeat this cycle several times throughout the year.
Use a pulse survey platform to look deeper into the data results. Vantage Pulse, for intense, offers you a hyper-categorization of data for a better visual overview. With this, you will be able to analyze employee behavior in a more structured way.
Not sure how? Let me explain with an example.
Let's say your organizational culture is focused on communication and collaboration. With Vantage Pulse, you can assess factors like employee behavior, relationships with peers, relationships with managers, alignment, team collaboration, and more from one central space.
It will definitely offer you a fresh perspective and help you see your culture with your employee's eyes.
B. Talk to the managers:
Your managers are the 'guardians' of your organizational culture. They greatly influence the attitudes, values, and behavior of your teams.
Have an honest conversation with your managers about their opinions about organizational culture. You can use the survey results to guide the discussion.
Be okay with saying goodbye.
Now that you have a fair idea of how your employees are exhibiting the expected behaviors, here's the next question you might have-
What if an employee is not a good culture fit for your organization?
As per a poll,60% of employees didn't work well with their coworkers,- Pointing towards a poor culture fit.
In case of such cultural misalignment, the first step could be to have an honest conversation with the employee. Give them a chance to work on closing the cultural gap.
However, if the gaps persist even after that, the best step will be to let them go.
For instance, Netflix prioritizes its unique culture and values in its hiring and retention practices. The company is not afraid to part ways with employees not aligned with its values, regardless of their technical skills or experience.
Have a clear and comprehensive policy in place that covers all possible reasons for letting someone go, including cultural misalignment.
But let's not forget that cultural misalignment isn't always the employee's fault. So, it's essential to handle the situation with sensitivity and empathy. Also, provide adequate explanation and support to the employees during the termination process.
How to hire based on culture fit?
When hiring a new employee, finding the perfect addition to your team goes beyond simply looking for someone who fits the job description. It's crucial to hire someone who will also fit into your organization's culture.
According to a study, 90% of recruiters reject candidates because they are not culturally compatible.
Here are some tips to ensure your new hire is a culture fit for your organization-
Pre-hire culture "fit" assessment.
These assessments can be administered through self-assessment tests, cultural-specific interview questions, or even third-party software. The key here is to ask them questions that help you compare the candidates' preferences with your organization's culture.
Here are some examples of culture fit interview questions you could ask:
- How would you describe your most productive work environment?
- What makes you want to work here?
- How would you describe your values?
- Tell us about your best/worst experience working with a team.
- When it comes to working in a team, what do you enjoy most?
- Tell us about an incident when you made a mistake. What was your response, and what did you learn from it?
- What do you like the most about your current organization or colleagues?
Include questions that help you discover competencies you can't or don't want to train your new hires for. For instance, you can train a person to use your internal collaboration tools. However, a person who works more efficiently alone might not be able to learn to collaborate well.
Give them a sneak peek.
A survey shows that 77% of candidates consider an organization's culture while applying for a post. And 73 % of candidates don't even apply for a post if the company's values aren't aligned with their own.
Thus, it's important to let your potential hires see what your culture looks like even before they apply for the job. Social media, in this case, can be your weapon.
Make sure your social media handles exactly portray who you are and the core values you stand for. So that when your potential hires are researching for culture fit, they know exactly how it would be to work in your organization.
Also, ensure the job description shows your company's values, beliefs, and culture.
Include a training period:
Another helpful tool is to have a training period. It will allow you to work with the candidate and see them up close to better understand how they interact with employees, their attitudes, working style, and values. At the same time, it will allow the new hire to assess themselves and decide whether they can fit in.
Take a lesson from Buffer, for instance. Buffer has a 45-day trial period, aka Buffer Bootcamp, before an employee is hired permanently. This allows both parties to know each other and decide the right cultural fit.
Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, has a unique approach. They fly candidates in for the interviews and ask the flight crew to give a report on their attitude and behavior. When it comes to revealing your true nature, interviews can be deceiving. But your true colors shine through during travel and interactions with large groups in confined spaces.
However, hiring candidates just based on cultural fit can prove to be fatal. Let's find out how.
Disadvantages of Hiring for "Culture Fit" Alone
The candidate you hire might not be as great a culture fit as you think. Why?
Let's face it. Candidates might sometimes distort their responses to interview questions and personality assessments to increase their chances of getting hired.
They might present their personality in a way that aligns with what you seek or stands for as an organization. This might lead to a wrong hiring decision on your side, resulting in hiring a cultural imposter.
Your hiring managers might unconsciously favor candidates with similar backgrounds, personalities, and interests in the name of cultural fit. This might cost you qualified candidates just because they don't look a certain way or the background section of their resume has colored your decision.
However, it's important to remember that company culture fit doesn't refer to hiring someone who thinks the same way as you or has a similar background as the rest of your team. By misinterpreting culture fit as hiring "all the same," you might also lose on diversity in your workplace.
Employers should not assume that finding someone who is a good cultural fit simply means recruiting professionals who are similar to their current staff. Finding new candidates who are a great cultural fit does not mean sacrificing diversity but rather finding professionals from a range of backgrounds who share the values of your organization.
– Richard Boyd, Associate Director at Robert Walters.
Not for everyone:
Hiring based on cultural fit might not be the right solution for everyone. If you have a team operating from a specific geographical location, the cultural fit might be the thing you should focus on more.
However, if you are a company with teams spread across multiple geographical locations, "culture add" will be the right option for you.
To wrap it up:
To ensure you're setting yourself and your team up for success, frequently assess your processes. For instance, a survey after three months of joining will be a great move if you have a new hire on board.
Hiring, retaining, and assessing culture fit might take a little extra time and effort from your side. So rather than doing things manually, invest in a survey tool. It will automate your assessments and make a strategic action plan with data-driven analytics.
It'll pay off with professionals who thrive in their roles, drive long-term success, and make your organization unstoppable.