The Impact One Bad Culture Fit Can Have on Your Organization

June 11, 2019 Pete Newsome Pete Newsome

Bringing someone who is a bad culture fit into your organization can have significant financial and operational impacts. For example, you will experience the cost of employee turnover when you must interview, hire, and onboard their replacement all over again — plus a gap in productivity when their workload is no longer accounted for.

Perhaps even worse, a bad culture fit can impact your entire organization in ways that go far beyond recruitment costs or project-specific capacity shortages. The saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch” rings true here — the hidden cost of a bad hire can include lowered employee morale and a negative workplace environment that can be felt by every team member.

How can your business combat the risks of hiring a bad culture fit? We are here to help you understand the true impact of one poorly-placed employee and provide a few tips for ensuring your next hire will be aligned with your company culture before they join it.

What is Company Culture?

Defining what company culture is can be a challenge because it’s something that often evolves over time and is unique to each organization. Some perceive company culture as the “personality” behind the organization. For example, many modern companies boast a fun and engaging culture that may include perks such as a lax dress code, strong work/life balance, flexible scheduling, and regular company-wide social events. Others may stick to the more traditional office environment, or consider company culture as something that has more to do with the company’s vision, values, and day-to-day processes than the “vibe” of its workplace.

Why Does Company Culture Matter?

No matter how you define it, your company culture is incredibly important. We aren’t the only ones who think so — a Deloitte study found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is an important component of business success. How does this relate to talent acquisition?

Having a strong culture that you can show off to candidates from the start gives prospective hires an expectation of what it’s like working for your business. If they don’t feel like they would work well in that environment, they can look elsewhere before taking up any more of either party’s time. However, if you don’t address your culture in your hiring process, a candidate who isn’t a good fit may end up going through the entire process and being hired simply because neither party was aware of the mismatch. Considering the high cost of employee turnover, a positive company culture that can be clearly communicated to candidates should be a vital part of your hiring strategy.

Your company culture doesn’t just help attract new talent, it helps keep your current talent satisfied and working for you rather than going to the competition. A happy, healthy work environment drives job satisfaction and employee engagement, which is one of the main reasons why hiring for culture fit should be an integral part of your hiring strategy.

While offering great salaries and benefits may get the best talent in the door, it takes much more to keep them there long-term. When your employees feel like they matter to you and are genuinely invested in your organization, they will be more loyal and passionate about helping to achieve your business goals.

The Impact of a Bad Culture Fit

Low employee morale and lost productivity are two of the biggest hidden costs associated with a bad culture fit. If you bring in one bad hire who is not a match for your culture, it can be easily noticed and felt throughout the entire organization. Whether this employee carries themselves in a way that doesn’t align with your company’s values, loudly speaks out against or mocks your business in any way, or simply mutters complaints under their breath to their cubicle mate, that negativity quickly spreads.

As we said earlier, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” When one person is pessimistic, always complaining, or just downright unhappy at work, it can create a negative working environment. This doesn’t just affect your employee’s attitude and mindset — it can affect their productivity, too. Think about it: when someone is miserable at work, it can be incredibly difficult for them to get excited about a project, produce quality work, or deliver high-quality customer service.

While disengagement and negativity is contagious at all levels, it becomes an especially big problem when the bad culture fit is at a senior level. When a manager has a negative attitude, it will likely trickle-down to the rest of their team. After all, they are supposed to be the leaders and role models of the organization, and employees will often mirror the way their leaders carry themselves. It’s not very easy for the team to be happy, productive, and collaborative when their manager is undermining their ability to work well together and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

A manager who is a bad culture fit can introduce negative workplace practices that can take years to undo. Additionally, a manager who doesn't get your company's culture isn't going to place a priority on hiring others who align with it, meaning a poor-fit manager who has any influence on hiring decisions can be especially dangerous.

Hiring for Culture Fit

Now that you know just how important company culture is and how a poor fit can negatively impact your whole organization, you’re probably thinking: “How can I avoid these problems? How am I supposed to know if a candidate will be a good culture fit until they're already working for me?”

While there is no scientifically proven, foolproof way to determine a candidate’s true attitude and personality before you interact with them on a day-to-day basis, there are a few things you can do to get some insights before making a further investment. While it’s certainly not impossible, it does take a bit more effort and resources up-front — which will be well worth it in the long run. Follow these tips for effectively hiring for culture fit:

  • Clearly define your company culture and values. The first step to ensuring a potential hire is aligned with your company culture and values is to have a clear idea of what those are. Get company-wide buy-in and be sure this is captured in your employee handbook so it can always be referenced.

  • Reference your company culture and values in any advertising for the role. Make sure your job postings include a blurb about your culture and use verbiage that aligns with your values. After reading your job description, candidates should have an idea if they would be a fit for your work environment and should apply or not.

  • Discuss those values and what being part of your company culture really entails during the interview process. Be transparent about what your day-to-day workplace atmosphere is like. Tell candidates about any culture initiatives (such as a company wellness program or monthly social outings) that your team members can participate in and how they contribute to a positive, healthy work environment.

  • Ask culture fit interview questions that relate directly to these values. Ask culture fit interview questions such as, “How would you handle yourself if faced with XYZ ethical dilemma,” or, “How would you treat a fellow employee in XYZ situation” to uncover if their answers align with your values.

  • Get to know potential candidates on a more personal level. It can be hard to gauge someone’s personality and character while in a formal interview setting. Consider taking a top candidate to chat over coffee, grab lunch, or participate in a company-wide social event to see how they mesh with other team members before investing in hiring them.

  • Leverage pre-employment assessments. There are numerous pre-employment assessments on the market that can be used to help evaluate job candidates for both hard skills (such as typing speed and math skills) as well as “soft” skills like communication and teamwork. You can even create ideal personality profiles for various roles and see how candidates match up — for example, a customer service role should be filled by someone who is friendly and helpful, not shy.

  • Focus on company culture during onboarding. While onboarding should cover processes and day-to-day job role responsibilities, it is also the ideal time to go over your company culture. Don’t just assume your new hires understand your values and know how you expect them to carry themselves and treat others in the organization — clearly explain it to them before their new role gets underway.

  • Check in with new hires. Check in with your new hires at the end of their first day, week, and month to ensure they feel like they are fitting in with your culture and are comfortable in your workplace environment. This way, if there’s a problem, it can hopefully be addressed quickly before it escalates or spreads.

  • Turn to a professional staffing agency or headhunter. The cost of a bad hire can be mitigated by turning to professional recruiters or headhunters. There are seemingly endless benefits of working with a staffing agency — especially if you’re having difficulties placing talent on your own. Professional recruiters and headhunters are able to leverage their vast candidate networks, experience, and expertise to ensure they are placing the best possible candidate from both a culture and job skills perspective.

Have Confidence You’re Hiring a Culture Fit by Partnering With 4 Corner Resources

4 Corner Resources (4CR) is a professional recruiting and staffing firm headquartered in Orlando, Florida, but our team of staffing experts work with clients across the country to ensure they are hiring the right candidate every time.

Our success as a staffing agency was built by combining performance and effectiveness with unmatched personal client service. Our unique ability to combine cultural fit with technical requirements has earned 4CR a reputation as a highly trusted recruiting partner to clients and candidates alike.

To learn how we can leverage our professional networks and recruitment expertise to effectively place a candidate who is both a job role and culture fit in your organization, reach out to us today!


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