Reasons to Hire for Culture Fit Over Skill Set

When you recruit new talent, chances are you have a very specific job description in mind and are seeking an employee that bears the skillset to get that job done. But what if it comes down to one candidate who seems to fit your workplace culture but lacks some of the skills needed for the position—and another candidate who is a perfect match on paper but just doesn’t seem to gel?

Although there are good reasons to support both cases, the candidate who fits in your workplace culture can be taught the skills needed for the job and will have a higher learning curve because they have happier in their environment. This isn’t a terrible dilemma to have, so how do you choose? Here’s how.

What Is Culture Fit?

Culture is a company’s mission, vision, and values, and how these concepts play in the day-to-day operations. Cubicles, offices, or open floor plan? Do employees have flex-time? Can they take time off for volunteer efforts or their children’s activities? Is the manager’s office door always open? These are all aspects of workplace culture. Culture fit describes the way employees naturally adopt organizational practices, values, and mores.

As a hiring manager or the owner of a company, defining and hiring those that fit within the culture you are adopting in your corporation from the start will increase productivity, creativity, morale, and sales. But, it’s also important to remember that each employee has their own personalities. If your office is a collaborative space, but the candidate is an introvert, don’t dismiss them as a potential hire out of hand. They will have different strengths that can fit into the culture of the company you are trying to build.

Culture Fit and the Learning Curve

If you are training employees who are already a good culture fit, chances are you “speak their language,” and can teach in an engaging way. For instance, if your company is technology-forward and hires an early adopter, that employee might respond well to online training videos or gamification. If your culture is highly collaborative, new employees may learn better in groups while working on whiteboards, where teams brainstorm solutions and practice the appropriate skills.

It’s difficult to put a timeline on how fast you can get an employee up to speed, but employees who do not fit in with a company’s culture may struggle with how to apply their skills successfully. Because most employees come from previous experiences, they should be trained for the processes you have in place. If the culture fit isn’t there initially, it could also be difficult to train them to adopt the processes you have in place.

Employees Who Are a Good Culture Fit Stick Around

The average cost to hire an employee is $4,129, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. But some older reports say recruiting and training could cost as much as 50 to 75 percent of an employee’s annual salary.

It’s been often written that employees who are a good culture fit show greater job satisfaction and—perhaps as a result—remain with the organization longer. Employees that stick around save time and money and the longer they are with you, the more loyal they become. Working with people who share our values and vision makes for a better office environment and promotes a healthier workspace.

How to Hire for Culture Fit without Discriminating

Most of us want to work with people we like—but be cautious that “culture fit” doesn’t mean hiring people who think, look, and act exactly like others in the company. Diversity can be an important part of a company’s culture.

If a company is going to evolve, improve, and even disrupt its industry hiring managers should look for people who provide a culture fit while, at the same time, promote innovation.  The ideal hire will make a “culture contribution,” thriving within the established culture and also imbuing the workplace with a fresh perspective, while rapidly assimilating the skills necessary for the job.

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