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The Importance Of Cultural Fit In Staffing

Many workplaces in the business world are now, more than ever, recognizing the need for culture in their work environment. The word “workplace culture” has become an important term in many organizations and is used to describe the personality a business organization portrays.

As many business owners recognize the need for more than just skill and talent when hiring, culture fit again finds itself an important metric to be considered while hiring. But what exactly is a cultural fit, and why is it important in any organization’s starting decision? In this article, we will examine what cultural fit is and why it is so important in any successful organization.

What Is Company Culture?

Years ago, what would have mattered in any hiring process were the skills, experiences, and talents a potential hire has. However, times have changed, and organizations now have a wider perspective on running a successful business. One of these new concepts being considered is the need for cultural fit in the company.

Although skills, experiences, and talents are still important while hiring, employers place more of a premium on cultural fit, emphasizing how prospective employees fit with the company’s views and mindset. However, to truly understand why cultural fit is important, it is first important to understand the company culture.

Company culture, also known as organizational culture, is a shared set of workplace beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, purposes, and behaviors. It is the sum of an organization’s written and unwritten rules or the shared ethos that is prevalent in the company.

Company culture encompasses the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, and traits that make up an organization’s entire environment or atmosphere. It is evident in factors such as dress code, practices, goals, and even how the office is designed. At its core, culture combines the company’s core values, perks, and benefits and the yardstick by which all candidates should be measured.

Every company has a unique culture that guides its employees and all operations within its establishment. However, there are four major categories of company culture which includes:

  • Clan (Collaborative) Culture: A culture that focuses on people and emphasizes a highly collaborative work environment where teamwork is valued, and every individual is appreciated.
  • Adhocracy Culture: An innovative and adaptable work environment that focuses on fuelling the next industrial breakthrough. This work culture appreciates employee creativity and prioritizes converting new ideas to successful market growth and company success.
  • Market Culture: Market culture, as the name points out, is a results-oriented work environment that focuses more on external success and less on internal satisfaction. It prioritizes reaching goals, surpassing targets, and seeing results. It also involves a note of competitiveness amongst employees and involves degrees of separation between the executives and subordinate employees.
  • Hierarchy Culture: Hierarchy or hierarchical culture focuses on creating a traditional and risk-averse work environment. It needs more room for innovation and adaptability and focuses more on outlining a clear map of paths employees must follow. As such, this culture prioritizes defined processes and stability while emphasizing a clear separation of a chain of instructions from the executives to the employees.

There are more categories of work culture, but most are a spinoff of these four categories.

Company culture plays a significant role in creating a vibe for the company. By clearly outlining what the company stands for using its culture, employees can be more engaged and productive, leading to an overall successful organization.

As a result, it is easy to see why company culture has become a forefront term in the business world. While having a unique company culture is important, what matters more is having a cultural fit that ensures every participant in the organization shares the same culture with the organization. This sense of uniformity creates oneness and a sense of community that is important in any healthy workplace. 

This is where cultural fit emerges as an important aspect of work culture and how it affects the workplace.

Three people sitting in front of a table laughing together
Cultural fit enables all employees to work seamlessly together.

What Is Cultural Fit?

Cultural fit refers to how well a company’s culture aligns or fits with that of the employee. Culture, in this sense, refers to the overall personality of the organization, including the organization’s values, behaviors, and attitudes. Just like humans have certain personalities that they exhibit, companies have personalities that define them in the business world and among their clients too. Cultural fit focuses on ensuring congruence between the employees and the organization’s norms, beliefs, values, and overall personality.

For example, if a company has a collaborative culture that requires employees to work together as teams, it should not hire employees that prefer to work or work well on their own. While there is nothing neatly wrong with this, employing workers to prefer to work alone diminishes the company’s collaborative culture and risks the future of the company.

As individuals, we all have our quirks, unique beliefs, and principles that guide us through life. However, some of these beliefs and principles are common ground as they can be found in other individuals who also share them.

So, what happens when you gather people with different beliefs and principles in one environment? Worse still, what happens when you gather people with varying beliefs in an environment that requires them to act one way, especially in a way these people are not used to? 

Without cultural fit, a company will find itself wasting time and resources on people that aren’t in sync with its values. Relationships will be rocky, workers will be at loggerheads, and employees will not be satisfied with their homes. Essentially, employees will not mesh with the company’s goals and tenets, leading to the risk of creating a potentially toxic work environment.

Having a culturally fit company does not require hiring or working with identical employees. While employees in a culturally fit workplace are encouraged to retain their unique sense of individuality, cultural fit is essentially all about matching people with business culture.

Additionally, while cultural fit encourages workers to share the company’s personality, it does not discriminate against diversity or inclusion. The cultural similarity should be homogenous but the environment does not have to be.

Great cultural fit focuses on hiring people that understand and align with a company’s culture. It is based on having a team of employees that are connected to the values of the business.

Importance Of Cultural Fit In Staffing

There are several reasons why cultural fit is becoming an important part of businesses. Some of these importance include:

1. Staff Retention

What will you do if you work in a company whose culture you do not agree with? Of course, your first decision will be to leave. This is exactly what many employees find themselves doing.

One research found that almost three-quarters (73%) of professionals have left a job because they disliked the company culture. Like businesses, employees now prioritize company culture. Now, even pay is not enough to keep employees in an organization as employees now want to feel happy and connected to their workplaces in a way that being a cultural fit can provide them.

Given that the average person spends 90,000 hours or at least a third of their life in an office, it is no rocket science that they will want to enjoy their work in a comfortable environment that enables them to be extremely productive. How will they do that if they are a cultural misfit? Employees who are at odds with their company’s culture are constantly drained and dissatisfied.

This dissatisfaction often leads them to exit the organization. When employees do not leave the organization, the company finds itself battling low productivity and serious employee absenteeism.

On the other hand, a culturally fit organization creates a healthy and welcoming environment for employees. Workers feel more comfortable and connected to their workplace, reducing their chances of leaving to work in a different organization. Cultural uniformity creates a sense of community and is the glue that holds the organization together. With a network of culturally fit employees, an organization will find itself retaining more employees and facing low turnover rates.

2. Employee Engagement

Managing employees that don’t deliver their KPIs is a nightmare every leader can avoid through staff engagement. Cultural fit is one easy way to ensure employees are always motivated to work.

With a shared network of beliefs, employees can easily get work done. There is a mutual connection and, thus, a genuine understanding of long and short-term goals. As a result, employees know what to do, when to do it, and how to get these tasks done.

More importantly, employees will find themselves committed to the company. They will want to work hard, going above and beyond to perform better at higher levels. These employees are also more competent, confident, and not afraid or hesitant when it comes to making a decision. 

On the contrary, workplaces with employees that are not a cultural fit will experience friction. Workers will be less willing to participate in activities as they may feel dissatisfied and uninterested in the tasks being executed.

3. More Productivity

Better engagement leads to more productivity. Companies with employees that share similar beliefs with themselves and the organization are driven by purpose and clear expectations. Employees are more engaged in their duties and interactions, thereby boosting productivity.

More importantly, having a culturally fit organization means having employees with similar personalities and skill sets. This means that employees will find it easy to work together quickly, tackling projects and tasks more productively.

Poor cultural fit drains productivity. With low engagement and an unwillingness to reach goals, the company will detect a decrease in performance level, a problem evident in reaching certain milestones.

4. Strong Brand Identity

A company’s culture isn’t only important within its walls. It also plays a role in how the company presents itself in public using public image and reputation.

People, most especially customers and shareholders, will make assumptions about a company using its interactions and internal relationships. When a company does have culturally fit employees, it appears more chaotic and strained. The work environment appears toxic, leaving a negative brand image and identity.

5. Cohesion

Hiring based on cultural fit helps to create a sense of community in the workplace. When employees are a cultural fit, an organization enjoys cohesion. Employees function in tandem, and reaching decisions becomes easier. More importantly, teamwork is easy as employees can work with each other without problems and are aligned with the same goals. Additionally, crises such as professional or personal differences are easier to resolve due to the understanding among all workers.

6. Communication

Communication is a powerful tool. It passes information seamlessly, creates new ideas, and can even bring life to a tired team.

Communication is easier when every employee is a cultural fit. Organizations with a strong cultural fit enjoy more collaborative processes driven by the seamless communication unique to a harmonious workplace. With great communication comes great engagement and productivity, as employees understand each other better and will be more committed to their jobs.

Workers having a meeting.
The cultural fit makes it easier for employees to work together.

Assessing Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is best considered during the hiring process. As such, it will be easier for an organization to determine if a hire or a potential hire will be a great addition to the establishment than having them begin work and have to leave because they find out they are not a great fit. 

But how do you make sure a new hire will be good for your company culture?

Just as you would use factors such as skills and experiences to evaluate applicants, there are several actions you can take to determine if a potential hire is a great cultural fit for your organization. Some of these actions include:

1. Clearly Define Your Company Culture: You will only know if a candidate is a cultural fit if you clearly highlight your company culture. Begin by identifying the core values, beliefs, and behaviors that define your organization. This will serve as a foundation for assessing cultural fit during the hiring process.

2. Communicate Your Culture: Educate your potential hire about the kind of culture your organization practices. Clearly communicate your company’s culture to potential hires through job descriptions, interviews, your employer branding, and other channels that will effectively pass the message. This allows candidates to understand what your organization stands for and helps attract individuals who align with your cultural values.

3. Incorporate Behavioral And Situational Questions: Use your interview to determine if a candidate is a cultural fit or not. Ask certain questions that will provide insight into a candidate’s past experiences, attitudes, and behaviors related to your company culture. For example, you can ask about how they handled a challenging situation or how they collaborated in a team environment. Look for responses that demonstrate alignment with your cultural values.

4. Involve Numerous Team Members: Don’t try to assess candidates alone. Always include significant stakeholders and team members in the interview process to provide and compare different perspectives on the candidate’s cultural fit. Allow them to assess how well the candidate aligns with the company’s values and team dynamics.

5. Conduct Reference Checks: Contact the candidate’s references and ask targeted questions about their work style, ability to collaborate, and fit within a company’s culture. This provides additional insights into the potential hire’s compatibility with your company’s culture.

6. Consider Trial Periods Or Assessments: Depending on the position and resources available, consider implementing trial periods or assessments where you can decide after a specific timeframe if a candidate can be a great cultural fit or not.

Cultural Fit Means A Great Fit

Cultural fit plays a pivotal role in successful staffing decisions. Hiring individuals who align with the organization’s values, beliefs, and working norms contribute to a harmonious work environment, improved employee satisfaction, and increased productivity.

Ensuring every employee is a great cultural fit is challenging and near impossible. However, with a great working strategy that involves considering a candidate’s skill, qualification, and compatibility, the process is easier, and you can achieve a harmonious work environment fuelled by cultural compatibility.

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