A Guide To Culture Fit – Is Cultural Fit A Feature Of Your 2016 Recruitment Strategy?

In the world of recruitment, ‘culture fit’ or ‘cultural fit’ has become a bit of a buzz term over recent years and more and more companies are starting to take this method of recruiting very seriously and adopt it into their recruitment methods. In this article, we will look at cultural fit and how it can benefit your company and we will also address the potential disadvantages of adopting it into your recruitment process.

First of all, let’s look at the first question that might come to mind: What is cultural fit?

What Is Cultural Fit Or Culture Fit?

When it comes to recruiting employees to a team, what we are all looking for is to make sure we are getting the right person for the job. Recruitment can be both costly and time consuming and so the ideal end result is to end up with a new member of staff who is going to work well with the rest of your team, who is not going to move on to pastures new after a matter of months or weeks, and who is going to drive your company forward, flourish and be successful in their role.

For many companies who are recruiting new staff, that’s where cultural fit plays a part. Cultural fit is all about making sure they get the right person for the job, not just because of their previous experience, skills or qualifications, but also because of their outlook on life and work. Cultural fit is all about employing someone because their values and work ethic match those of your company’s culture.

Interview Scenarios

For example, you could be interviewing someone for a role within your company – it might be a graduate role or you could be interviewing a student for a part time job or seasonal work. Let’s say that the person you are interviewing ticks all the qualifications and experience boxes – but then you find out they love to work independently and do things their own way. Your company is a company where your workforce thrives on teamwork and collaborations. Perhaps then, even though your candidate looks the part on paper, they are not going to gel with your firm.

Another example could be that you discover your candidate likes to work to fixed routine and know exactly what is going on. Perhaps your workplace has a staff of people who thrive on innovation, working with new ideas and not necessarily working to a set routine. Is that person going to be the best person to fill your vacant role? Again, they might look the part on paper but will that person truly flourish in your company’s culture?

If the people you are interviewing do not really fit your company culture then, chances are, they will become unhappy in their role and start to look for work elsewhere. This is obviously not good for your staff retention and certainşy not good for your recruitment because, if that employee does move on, you are going to need to begin the recruitment process all over again.

Culture Fit Can Be A Win-Win Situation

Awareness of culture fit can be a two way scenario. It doesn’t have to be a situation where employers are assessing whether potential employees will be successful with the company. Making candidates aware of your company’s culture can also give them the opportunity to decide if your company is right for them, too.

Different people thrive in different situations. Does your management style and the way other employees work in your company suit your candidate? Does your management style lend itself to getting the best out of that potential employee? Being able to work this out during the recruitment process means that, in the end, your staff retention will be boosted because both parties can decide whether the arrangement will work for them. Culture fit can be central in developing your workforce and driving your company forward.

The Benefits Of Cultural Fit For Your Company

The benefits of cultural fit can be significant for your company, whatever type of company your run. When everyone is working towards the same mission, cultural fit can:

  • Encourage productivity and business success. We’ve looked at the challenges of keeping productivity high in the workplace in the past and good cultural fit can be one of the ways of cementing good productivity levels.
  • Improve the self-esteem of your employees because they feel more able to do their job. This means they are more likely to stick around for longer because they are more committed to the company as they perform better. If you are recruiting graduates and students, this means you have more chance of retaining the best young talent out there.
  • Research has also shown that if culture fit has been used effectively during the recruitment process and you have a committed staff, at challenging times for the business, this staff are more likely to work harder to fix things and also adapt to new business practices for the success of the firm. You will have a strong team committed to success.
  • When you have a strong team because that team shares the same values as those of your company, you could also end up with a happier staff who are less stressed. This means they are less likely to need to take sick leave and, again, this is beneficial for productivity.

Cultural Fit Is Becoming Top Priority For Larger Companies

Rather than just concentrating on filling vacant positions such as graduate programmes or individual roles, some larger companies are making cultural fit a top priority in their recruitment by considering the culture of the organisation as a whole.

Companies that take cultural fit seriously, actively market this to potential candidates right from the outset. Their websites appeal to a particular type of person and, when they time comes for recruitment, their job ads appeal to a certain sort of person. If lots of young people work there, then the website will reflect this. If they are big on providing student jobs, this will be reflected, too.

Cultural fit can assess whether people are right for the job from the get go. Good cultural fit helps people to work together to adapt to necessary changes in the business to keep on top of the game.

Do You Know Your Company’s Culture?

So the next question to follow with is, if you are interested in cultural fit as a recruitment strategy, do you know your company’s culture? This obviously has to be the starting point as you will be recruiting staff based on the beliefs, attitudes and traditions of your company.

If your company is well established then you could have written mission statements that staff are aware of and maybe you even have long-serving members of staff, too, who know your company inside out. For others, it might not be so simple, however. You could be a new start-up or you could have recently gone through lots of changes in the company set up for whatever reason. If this is the case, then how are you going to pin down what your company’s culture is?

Whatever field your company operates in and whatever type of roles you have on offer, there are a few things you can do to try and identify to identify the culture of your company.

  • Think about whether you could explain the culture of your company to a candidate who comes for interview. If you are interviewing a student for part time work or a graduate for a more senior position, what could you tell either of those types of people about the firm?
  • Indeed, before you get to interview stage, do you actually know the types of people you want to interview so that they can be a valuable member of your existing team?
  • Sit down and have a thing for yourself about the culture of your company.
  • Ask existing employees what they think the culture of the company is. What do your young apprentices, students or graduates think and how would they describe the company culture to other people of a similar age?

Before you can consider recruiting staff with cultural fit in mind, it is important that you are clear on your company’s values, goals and practises and work out how to put these into your recruiting process. For larger companies, this could involve working with a consultant to really drill down into some values and the company’s mission. For smaller companies and new start ups, maybe you already have an idea of the type of people you want to work for you because of the staff already employed.

Can The Strategy Of Recruiting For Cultural Fit Be Over Used?

Recruiting for cultural fit can be very effective in boosting your company’s productivity and staff retention but it is also important to make sure you are still recruiting a diverse range of people rather than a group who are clones of each other. Can your company afford to let a talented interviewee go just because you think they might not fit in with your team? This is a tough decision to make and that is why it is so important to know what the culture of your company is.

Sometimes, opposites attract and a variety of people from a diverse range of backgrounds can make a really strong effective team because they behave in particular ways in given situations. So, just because an interviewee says they are not the type of person who likes to go out drinking after work, are you going to let that talent slip away just because the rest of your staff often go out together after work? That is down to you to decide via other aspects of your application process.

A candidate’s personality, whilst it is important, might only be one part of your decision to decide whether or not to offer them the job. Other ways to decide if someone will fit into your company is to do personality questionnaires, group exercises, role plays and presentations, for example. This is where psychometric testing can also be a useful tool in recruitment, too, because you will get a chance to see how your candidates operate in given situations and also how they assess their own personality and behavioural traits. You will get a more rounded picture of your potential new employees.

So, what is important is that you don’t use cultural fit to end up with a lack of diversity within your company.

Should You Be Adopting Cultural Fit As Part Of Your Recruitment Strategy In 2016?

Recruiting for cultural fit can be very effective for both the culture and the productivity within your company so, yes, it can be a part of your recruitment strategy. But, as with other recruitment strategies, it’s perhaps best not to use it solely. Culture fit should not be a blanket for your company because you do not want to stifle individuality. Individuality is also a trait in people that can drive your company forward.

It is certainly true that some people will really thrive in particular cultures within the workplace whilst others will struggle in the same environment. That employee could well have all the relevant experience, technical skills or qualifications to do the role but if the culture isn’t suited to them, they won’t feel motivated to succeed in their role. If the employee is unhappy in their role then productivity will be affected, the mood of other members of your team can be affected and also, your unhappy employee will feel more motivated in looking for a new job rather than stick around. That leaves you back at square one, beginning the recruitment process all over again.

Depending on the role you are recruiting for, yes, you need to hire people for their skills and knowledge, too, but don’t forget that these are something that can be taught. This is especially true of entry level jobs that you might be recruiting students or apprentices for. If someone seems right for your firm but doesn’t necessarily have the skills, then they might still be worth taking on because then you can train them up in your role.

One incompatible person who just isn’t singing from the same hymn sheet as the rest of your staff can upset or destabilise even the strongest team. As I said above, some level of psychometric testing can be good so that you can get a broader picture of aptitude and ability as well as personality. If you are the type of firm that requires your staff to work well as a team, introduce some, team building exercises on recruitment days so that you can see how different candidates behave in certain situations.

Certain candidates might have a completely different way of going about their task to everyone else but it could still be a method that you think will work really well for your company. It is important to hire individuals who are a good culture fit for your workplace but who are still individuals who can thşnk for themselves and feel they can work in their own way. Don’t want a company full of clones or robots who all think and go about things in the same way. This can put your company at risk of losing any innovative ideas and processes.

As well as exercises, questionnaires and presentations, at interview time, introduce some questions that centre around your company’s culture. Is the candidate aware of your company’s culture? Perhaps you arranged some open days so that candidates could visit and observe the atmosphere throughout the workplace. If you can ask questions about this in the interview, you can ascertain whether they will fit in with your company by their answers.

Even if you are recruiting for cultural fit, successful candidates can still be from all different backgrounds. Perhaps they have no previous work experience, they might be graduates or students looking for part time work. Depending on the nature of your company, if you recruit a student who happens to be ideal cultural fit, they could go on to stay with the firm full time after graduation.

Whatever recruitment practices you employ in your application processes, the hoped for outcome for all companies is the same: You want to hire professionals or trainees who will flourish in their new roles, train and develop and make a contribution to driving your company forward. If you get cultural fit right, you should end up with a team of talented individuals who are innovative, highly motivated and who are more likely to remain with the company for a significant amount of time. This, ultimately, saves you a lot of time and money when it comes to recruitment.

If you are looking to recruit students, graduates and other talented young people to be a part of your company, then you can post your ad with E4S and see what we have to offer employers, here.

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