Even if you find a dream candidate with a great education, solid work experience and a résumé full of raving referees, there is still the chance that employing them will turn into a nightmare if their beliefs, values and needs are not aligned with those of your company. The more that these correlate, the better the culture fit and the more both the company and employee benefit from working together toward a common goal.
Research carried out by the University of Iowa revealed that benefits of a good culture fit include greater job satisfaction, higher levels of retention, stronger strategic alignment and superior job performance.
It’s no wonder that successful companies consistently hire people who share their values. The starting point for any business looking to take on new staff should be defining and articulating their culture – values, goals and practices – and then melding this understanding into the hiring process.
Companies can identify their culture by participating in a culture walk to determine some of the physical signs of culture, conducting culture interviews with employees and engaging people within the organisation to complete a culture survey based on the information collected during the previous two activities.
When hiring for cultural fit, we advise getting an idea of how candidates think and operate. Ways of eliminating or validating someone ahead of an interview include meticulously researching them and using social media tools such as LinkedIn to determine connections within your network – after all in the business world, as in life, we tend to gravitate toward people who similar to us and share our interests, values and behavioural norms.
One of the critical purposes of a job interview is to determine this potential cultural fit. When conducting interviews, ask candidates for specific examples of traits that match your culture. For instance, you could ask them to describe the work environment or culture in which they are most productive and happy. These types of questions will enable you to cut through the typical job interview practice of people telling you what they think you want to hear. In this case, you are forcing them to share what they actually believe.
During the employee selection process, companies should involve other employees.
Who better to judge a culture fit than those who will not only be working with the individual every day but who are also already a part of the company and are working toward achieving business success for the organisation.
Once you have made your decision and hired the person you believe would be the best cultural fit, it is imperative to help the new employee through the enculturation process through which he or she will adjust to and become part of the corporate culture.
While some companies assist new employees to embrace their culture through orientation, on-boarding sessions and other Human Resources initiatives, New employees be welcomed with a plan that not only helps them to learn their job but also immerses them in the most important aspects of the culture.
This could involve sharing the organisation’s mission, vision, guiding principles and values as well as ensuring that the new employee meets with management and other key employees who can convey the culture and accompanying expectations.
It is also advisable to assign a mentor or buddy to the new employee. This existing staff member can teach the new hire about the company’s culture and introduce additional longer term employees.
There are those that feel that hiring for cultural fit can lead to prejudice against candidates and a deficiency in diversity. However, hiring for culture fit doesn’t equate to hiring people who are all the same.
The values and characteristics that comprise an organisational culture can and should be mirrored in a richly diverse workforce.
Kay Vittee is the CEO of Kelly.