Part of an effective hiring strategy is to look for individuals who have the right combination of attributes — a good education, relevant job experience, and the right technical skill sets and knowledge. There are other criteria that’s equally as important, if not more so, to consider: culture fit.
Hiring for culture fit is about bringing employees into the mix whose beliefs, behaviors, and values align with those of your organization. This is not the same as hiring people who merely share similar backgrounds and experiences. It’s essential to include diversity while hiring for culture fit because different perspectives and experiences will help your company improve and scale. When more emphasis is placed on the diversity aspect, it is sometimes viewed as hiring for culture add rather than culture fit.
We’ll get to why hiring for culture fit is important and share some tips for how to do it in a moment. But first, it helps to have a definition of company culture to work with.
What is Company Culture?
Defining company culture can be a challenge because it’s something that often evolves over time and is unique to each organization.
Some describe company culture as the “personality” behind the organization. For example, many forward-thinking companies boast a fun and engaging culture that includes perks like a lax dress code, strong work/life balance, flexible scheduling, and regular company-wide social events. Others may define company culture as having more to do with the company’s vision, values, and day-to-day processes than the “vibe” of its workplace.
How you choose to define company culture is ultimately up to you, but ideally, it should be a statement or set of statements that define who you are as an organization and what it means to work for your company.
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.
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
Culture fit is one of those things that’s easy to overlook when it exists, but that becomes much more obvious when it’s missing. To illustrate, consider some of the impacts of hiring a candidate whose values, personality and goals don’t align with yours.
Low employee morale and lost productivity are two of the largest hidden costs associated with a bad culture fit. If you bring in one bad hire who’s not a match for your culture, they can stick out like a sore thumb, alienating their peers and worse, feeling alienated themselves.
As the saying goes, “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 are contagious at all levels, it becomes an especially big problem when the bad culture fit exists at a senior level. When a manager has a negative attitude, it will likely trickle down to the rest of their team. It’s not easy for a 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.
Why Culture Fit Should Be Included in Your Hiring Strategy
To help make the case for prioritizing culture fit in your hiring strategy, here are a few of the biggest ways it can benefit your organization.
1. Culture fit plays a role in employee retention
If employees aren’t a good culture fit, they’re more likely to leave. Considering how costly employee turnover can be for businesses of any size, hiring for culture fit as part of your hiring strategy matters.
While increasing employee retention is important from a morale standpoint, decreasing employee turnover also significantly impacts your bottom line by:
- Reducing employee recruiting expenses,
- Cutting training costs, and
- Increasing productivity.
According to an article in The Huffington Post:
“Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual salary. These costs include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts.”
2. Hiring people who fit with your culture leads to better work
People who love their jobs and where they work tend to be more satisfied and perform at a higher level. If someone loves their job but is miserable where they work, it can lead to a lesser-quality performance that can affect your bottom line. This is a significant reason why hiring for culture fit as part of your hiring strategy matters.
When an employee works for a company in which they feel like they are at odds with the culture, it can lead to dissatisfaction that affects productivity. Examples include employees who may need specific direction when working on a project but work in environments that promote independence and self-direction, or employees who may want to take the initiative to head up projects but feel held back by leadership who want to micromanage everything.
3. Hiring for culture fit creates a more positive work environment
As we discussed above, hiring someone who isn’t a good culture fit can create a negative work environment. Someone who is miserable where they are may contribute to bringing down the morale of other employees and the workplace in general.
4. A strong company culture attracts top talent
While a good salary and employee benefits are among the top reasons why prospective employees choose to accept a job with an employer, culture fit is another top contender. If a candidate has concerns about whether they will fit into an organization culturally, they are less likely to accept a job – or to stay for long if they do accept it.
Communicating your company’s culture from the start helps prospective talent understand what they can expect to experience as an employee so they can make an informed decision about whether to move forward or look elsewhere. Considering how costly employee turnover can be, it’s vital to ensure that your organization’s company culture is positive, healthy, and is clearly communicated as part of your hiring strategy.
5. Company culture can engage and motivate employees
Employee engagement is directly tied to achieving organizational goals, retaining talent, and helping employees feel like they matter.
According to a Forbes interview with Kronos Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aron Ain, achieving employee engagement comes down to having a company culture that demonstrates open and transparent communication:
“The reason we have over 90% employee participation in our engagement surveys when we ask employees about it, they say, ‘It’s because you do something about it. We can tell if we gave you feedback, that my manager sits down and talks to our group about something that came from our area, and then we take action to correct it, and do better going forward.’ That’s very motivating for people.”
6. A strong company culture is an investment in your business
A Columbia Business School survey of 1,400 North American CEOs and CFOs indicates that 90% of the participants “indicated a strong belief that the quality of a company’s culture is inextricably linked with its financial success as well as its perceived ‘value’ in the world.”
In a nutshell, company culture is a form of currency, however, the currency isn’t just financial — it is also measured in terms of your organization’s credibility, reputation, and brand image.
7. A strong company culture supports a positive brand image
Your employees are your greatest ambassadors, both to prospective customers and potential new hires. Think of top-ranking companies like Bain & Company, Google, and LinkedIn—all of them are known to have employees who simply rave about working there, and it makes others want to do business with and for them.
How To Hire For Culture Fit
Now that we’ve hammered home 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’s no 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 is to clearly define your mission and values. Acquire company-wide buy-in and capture your company culture 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. 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 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 in Hiring a Strong Culture Fit By Partnering With a Staffing Agency
4 Corner Resources (4CR) is a professional recruiting and staffing firm that works 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 culture 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.