Does your new employee fit your company culture?

Every company has it’s own ‘vibe’ or company culture that sets the tone and defines who thrives and who fails within its walls, according to an article in 2012 by Dave Ibsen. Finding a good fit is essential to the company/employee relationship. “It is the cornerstone to happiness and performance – for both the company and the employee.” 

So what is company culture?  Dave Ibsen’s article provides a great definition:  “it is the company’s core DNA: the core beliefs and ways of work that manifest themselves in how the company behaves, the products it makes, and the customers it attracts”. The wrong fit not only results in an intolerable workday, lack of motivation and performance for the employee, but for the employer can have a negative impact on the success of the business, create tension in the work place, cause staff alienation and have severe financial consequences.  

According to Eric Parker (in his book Run Your Own Business and Make Lots of Money), some of the obvious costs of employee turnover for a company include management time, legal costs (especially if a CCMA case ensues), having to advertise and re-recruit for the same position and the cost of training/induction.  But let’s not forget the hidden costs. These include the employee’s lack of performance, the negative impact a ‘wrong’ employee can have on customers, customer service and the rest of the team as well as all the non-productive time/materials/money wasted.

Due to the importance of cultural fit, interviews today no longer just concentrate on the skills required for the job, but often involve more personal questions to ascertain more information about the potential new recruit and their personality. In January 2013, employment site Glassdoor’s spokesman, Scott Dobroski, confirmed that over the last couple of years, the site has found “a significant rise in questions asked about cultural fit.” Research by Glassdoor collected 285,000 questions asked by hiring managers, and although they have little to do with work, the following four questions rank among 2012’s 50 most common.

· What’s your favorite movie?

· What’s your favorite website?

· What’s the last book you read for fun?

· What makes you uncomfortable?

According to Gregg S. Lipman, Managing Partner of CBX brand agency in New York, “this off-kilter line of questioning reveals a candidate's ability to clearly express his or her thoughts, and that ability inevitably contributes to the company's internal chemistry”. He stresses that both employer and employee “want to be in an environment where communication becomes second [nature]," he says, "where you have the ability to anticipate and read each other's minds." 

Today, employees being interviewed also place significant value on a great fit with their work environment, as this almost becomes their ‘second home’, Glassdoor’s, Scott Dobroski reports that job seekers cite company culture as their second-highest priority, “almost tied with salary.” In an employment market where many first-time employees relocate for work, “offices are becoming surrogate families and social communities”. New hires, especially young workers, increasingly want like-minded colleagues who share their values.

Logan’s article quotes Dan Schwabel, author of ME: 2.0:  “These trends are being driven by millennials because they care about culture. They’d rather have meaningful work over more pay, or work for a company that gives back or cares about the environment.” He confirms that they want a culture that’s less hierarchical, more flexible, and more understanding of differences, because millennials are the most diverse generation.”

In today’s environment, businesses must take the needs of this generation as well as older generations into account when establishing their company culture to ensure a positive and happy cultural fit for both employer and employee.


Offline sources:

Job Applicants’ Cultural Fit can Trump Qualifications by Logan Hill