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Industry Insights 2/8/2017

Culture-Fit: A Buzzword That Matters

Beth Buist
By Beth Buist
Culture-Fit: A Buzzword That Matters

Culture. Fit.

Along with ‘synergy’ and ‘holistic’ these two words coined together are fast becoming another buzzword.

And perhaps more telling than any internet’s trend-of-the-minute, clients are increasingly asking for candidates who possess the correct culture fit for their business. But what do they mean when they refer to this and why is it so important? And how can recruiters and companies alike best be equipped to ensure candidates not only fit the role but fit the culture?

Ultimately the term ‘culture fit’ refers to an alignment between the beliefs and behaviors of an employee and the core values and overall company culture of the employer. Thus, as can be expected, the parameters surrounding ‘culture fit’ can vary widely from one company to the next.

Whatever that company culture may be however, it should always be clearly defined and openly expressed in all communication methods – such as the company website or the position description for a role.

As a recruiter, keeping myself aware of the client’s core values and culture allow me to create an adequate recruitment brief and thus incorporate the right kind of interview questions into the overall process. This ensures that candidates I put forward have both the skillset, behaviours and mindset required to work well within the position.

It is also important to assess whether current staff members are working to the defined corporate culture. It is great having a list of values but if these are not followed by existing employees, a new staff member will not often stick in the role for long.

Where companies often stumble is not having properly defined their corporate culture in a long time, and it can often seem too much hassle for too trivial a task. So, why bother? Why waste time on all this culture fit nonsense – if someone can do the job, hire them, right?

Not quite – in this day and age it’s as much about the person as it is about the position.

We’ve all heard stories about those workplaces. The ones where office morale is significantly low and overwhelming negativity spreads around like a nasty rash. Employees in this space often turn up just to get paid and run out the door as soon as the clock hits 5pm – it’s hardly a motivating place to work.

And whilst different people are motivated by different things, and different people like different working environments, all staff need to essentially feel positive about their workplace in order to be more productive. If your employees’ beliefs align with the company culture that you have taken the time to properly define, you are going to have a much happier and much more productive workforce.

As the saying goes, one rotten apple can upset the whole cart, and so finding someone who will work well and fit in is integral to the happiness of the entire team. So much so that it is not uncommon these days for companies to incorporate a “happy hour” interview (a more relaxed, more social interview) into the overall hiring process to truly envision the cultural-fit of a potential employee.

There is one caveat to all of this however – beware of falling into the trap of using culture fit to hire similar personality types. This lack of diversity will often result in poor creativity and a lack of innovation, ultimately affecting the competitiveness of the business. Different personality types will develop a range of solutions to problems rather than all approaching issues the same way.

Culture fit-hiring works best when it is utilized to enable a diverse range of people to join the organisation and reflect the company values in their own way.

In the immortal words of Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid, ‘variety is the spice of life’ – Embrace it!

Just like the internet embraces buzzwords.