Hiring for Cultural Fit: The Benefits

by Pranav Ramesh
November 16, 2021

What is cultural fit and why is it important?

What is company culture?

We sometimes think of companies as large, impersonal entities that exist simply to achieve certain objectives. That’s not entirely true. Like people,

companies have personalities too. We call this personality company culture, or organizational culture.
A company’s culture is developed through the interactions between its:

working environment

management style

individual personalities, and

the values and objectives of the leadership.

This ecosystem is also influenced by the organizational style of the company leadership. A horizontally structured company will have a different culture to one that believes in hierarchical leadership, for example.
When you set out to hire for cultural fit, what that means is you are looking to hire an individual who will fit in with the existing culture of the company. A person who shares the same basic professional beliefs and objectives as the company leadership, and has a personality that will mesh with the other employees. Hiring for cultural fit is about matching the employee with their professional ecosystem.

Why does cultural fit matter?

Achieving a degree of cultural fit between an organization and its employees is important because it helps them grow together, rather than pulling in different directions. Employees who feel connected to the values and mission of their company, who perform in their unique work environment, and who understand and can deliver on the needs of their managers, are an asset to the company.

On the other hand, an employee who doesn’t fit in with a certain organizational culture will find both their performance and job satisfaction dipping. Their personalities or professional goals will clash with those of the larger group. They’ll have trouble achieving the targets set by management.

HR leaders agree that screening for cultural fit during hiring is a good practice because it helps identify employees who will be more productive and stay with the organization longer. However, there are also some significant drawbacks to according excessive focus on cultural fit when hiring.

Finding success with culture focused hiring

More employee engagement

When employees’ professional beliefs are in tune with the organization and its leadership, they are more likely to commit to their role. People who are in roles that sync with their personalities are usually more confident, happier in their jobs, and more likely to work harder. If you are an employer, this is great news. You get to work with people who not only like their jobs but are fully invested in helping your organization grow.

“Create Fun and a Little Weirdness” with Zappos

Zappos, a company that makes footwear, is famous for its unique company culture and emphasis on hiring people with the right mindset rather than any particular skill set. This is what Zappos has to say about their company culture—

“When you combine fun and weirdness in the office, it ends up being a win-win for everyone; employees become more engaged in the work that they do and the company as a whole becomes more innovative. Sure, it may be a bit unconventional, but hey, we wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Reduced turnover

The work environment is a huge driving factor behind employee retention and turnover, ahead of compensation and professional advancement. Unlike a few decades previously, the average employee today will simply not stay at an organization they don’t feel comfortable working at. After all, most of us spend over a third of our lives at work so why would you want to dedicate that time being dissatisfied or downright unhappy?

Employees who fit in with your organizational culture will be much happier in their work environments and less likely to leave.

DuPont scores high on reviews

Recent research revealed that DuPont was rated one of the best companies in the U.S. to work for, with one of the lowest rates of turnover in the country. A quick glance at Glassdoor (the professional review and vacancy portal), reveals why.

DuPont scores high on company culture metrics, with 3.9 out of 5. 72% of employees at the organization said that they would recommend DuPont to job seekers, and 73% approve of the work being done by their CEO. Multiple reviews by employees also point to good company culture and a positive work environment. Employees report feeling supported by a transparent style of management and compatible team members.

Improved brand image

Employees make the best brand ambassadors. Think back on the last time you heard someone at Google rave about their workspace. Or an employee at a new start-up groan about the lack of good management at work. Both those comments will, on some level, influence your opinion of the organization and perhaps, your desire to work there. If your employees can relate to and fit in with your company culture, they are more likely to speak well of your organization to others.

REI and their love for outdoors

If you love the great outdoors, REI is where you want to be, both as a customer and as an employee. REI makes and sells gear that caters to almost all outdoor activities, like clothing, equipment, and other essentials. Employees of REI rave about their workplace and have gone on record saying that this is a place “where greatness happens,” especially if you share a love of the outdoors with the customers.

Does hiring for cultural fit always work?

Cultural fit is a good way to find employees who will thrive in your organization’s work environment. But it’s important to remember that cultural fit must only be one of the factors to consider when hiring and, depending on your company, may not always be an ideal yardstick by which to review job applicants.

Check out part two in this series where we explore in greater detail the negative impact of an excessive emphasis on hiring for cultural fit.


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