Think your hiring strategy should be all about looking for people who have the right combo of relevant skillset, a brain (which always helps), and some experience? Think again. Just as important, if not more so, is culture fit: will the person sitting in front of you at interview telling you why they’d be great for the role actually gel with the company culture you’ve worked tirelessly to inform every aspect of the business?
Hiring for culture fit is more about bringing employees into your already glorious mix whose beliefs, values and behaviours align like a wondrous sky of beaming stars with those of your company; it’s much less about hiring people who have similar work experience and backgrounds (in fact, considering their background as an important factor is as ridiculous as not considering diversity), so overlook it at your peril.
A little recap for those who haven’t thought about what company culture actually means for a while. There is no definitive definition of company culture; for starters it will and should evolve over time and is also unique to every organisation. The bones of it are, however, that it should comprise a statement or set of statements that define who you are as a business and what it means to work for you. How you outline your company culture can be as concise as a list of words and values or as detailed as a lengthy document; either way, what it must do is clearly demonstrate the personality of the company with regard to working environment, mission, values, ethics, expectations and future goals.
The clearer and more detailed the document, the less room for misunderstanding — some companies have a team-based culture with participation expected and welcomed from employees at all levels, others still have a more traditional top-down management style, and some, like Google who are known for their casual culture, have very few rules and regulations.
Ask any employee for their honest opinion about how important the culture of the company they work for is to them and you can bet your bottom dollar that it ranks above most, if not all, other factors — which of course has a direct effect on the acquisition of talent. Showing off what it’s like to work for you as a company from the get-go gives an immediate and true first impression. If your company is all socialise, sit on a bean bag and wear neon on Fridays, but prospective employee Marcia is a shrinking violet who gets uptight if she isn’t planted in a properly supported office chair at all times, you’re clearly not right for each other and it’s best to move on amicably before wasting more of anyone’s time. Likewise, if your culture isn’t clearly on display to a prospective new employee who may dazzle on paper but isn’t suited to the personality of the business, they may still end up being hired because neither party has bothered to check this massively important compatibility test, which will cost the company both time and money to put right; not cool.
A mismatched hire based on culture fit can’t be that bad, right? Wrong. Because when an employee slots in beautifully, the harmony is easy to overlook, but when a bad apple (for your business, not as person, yada yada) sneaks in under the radar, before you know it, you’re dealing with a cacophony of crap. Two of the biggest hidden costs that will inevitably arise should the apple cart get upset are employee morale and productivity — bringing in an employee who’s pessimistic, moany and just generally unhappy and alienated because they just don’t ‘get’ why everyone else is buzzing to be at work will affect everyone’s mindset, spreading disengagement and negativity at a contagious rate. Which just sounds like one giant business-shaped ballache, really.
So, now that Debbie Downer has been outed, let’s reimagine the situation, assuming we all fully understand why culture fit should be a massive priority where hiring strategy is concerned, and take a look at all the lovely ways that getting it right will benefit your company.
Good retention rates
Firing and rehiring is costly for any business no matter what size they are, and seeing people come and go regularly is also unsettling for other team members. Besides keeping general morale upbeat and positive, holding onto staff reduces recruiting expenses, training costs and overall productivity.
Like attracts like
Besides a good salary and a decent benefits package, culture fit is another deciding factor in whether someone accepts a job, and if a great candidate is on the fence about whether or not they’ll fit into your business they’re far less likely to accept the job – even if you throw more money in the mix – or, frustrating further still, might accept and then leave soon after. Make sure any prospective talent knows exactly what sort of company you are and what they can expect to experience as an employee, so you know you’re both on the same page and you won’t let perfect matches slip through the net.
This sounds incredibly simple because it is – the happier a team is at work, the better work they’ll produce. If someone loves what they do but is unhappy in a working environment their negativity — even if they’re desperately trying to hide it — not only creates a constant barrier between them producing their best work but will soon seep into other areas of the business, namely morale. If you promote self-direction and independence at work, don’t hire someone who needs direction at every turn.
Increased motivation and engagement
If everyone is happy, everything is better: output, atmosphere, meetings, cups of tea; everything, and employee engagement specifically is directly linked to better retention rates, achieving company-wide goals and making employees feel like they matter. How active and successful your employee engagement is boils down to having a pro-active company culture that demonstrates open communication. Be the company that sits down with a team that’s given them some feedback and talks to them about it before taking action to put it right and watch motivation skyrocket.
Helps strengthen your brand
The people that work for you aren’t just integral to keeping the daily running of the company ticking over well, they’re also your brand ambassadors, so if they’re out and about raving about how brilliant the company is and how happy they are working there they’re strengthening your reputation, so not only will more people that fit personality-wise want to work for you, but other businesses will want to work with you too.
Getting your company culture exactly right in line with your goals as a business doesn’t just help attract the right people, it also keeps your existing staff happy which has a positive knock-on effect on their working environment. If your working environment is a cheerful one it drives both job satisfaction and employee engagement, so next time you’re hiring remember that while money and a good benefits package might get people through the door, a great cultural fit will get the right people through the door which will lead to long-term retention and greater success.