Over half of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so within a year of hire. Although some amount of turnover is inevitable, a level this high suggests that employers are collectively overlooking something important. Enter culture fit. Although long recognized as an influential factor in employee retention, culture is still relatively infrequently assessed during selection. Culture can seem abstract at first, but HR professionals need not shy away from it. Culture can (and should) be understood, measured, and incorporated in the hiring process to help maximize selection effectiveness.
What Is Culture?
Organizational culture is really quite similar to societal culture: it is the set of values, norms, and behaviors that are shared across individuals within an organization. It is that intangible “something” that defines an organization, influencing everything from marketing and leadership activities down to how people dress and speak to one another.
Why Should We Care?
Culture is a large, although frequently overlooked, portion of the hiring success equation. Assessing skills and abilities can indicate whether a person can perform a job’s tasks in any organization, but assessing culture fit can indicate whether a person is likely to be successful at your organization. An individual with an eye for detail and strong interpersonal skills could likely fulfill customer service duties for any company. If that individual is lively and thrives in a dynamic environment, though, she will probably be unsatisfied in such a role in a company whose culture is centered around formality and following traditional protocol. Understanding your culture and considering culture fit during the hiring process, then, can improve the probability that new hires will be happy in your company and stick around for the long term.
What Should HR Professionals Do?
Hiring for culture fit requires some self-reflection. Those in charge of the hiring process should thoughtfully identify the things that set their organization apart from others. Look around and ask yourself, “What motivates and drives our employees?” What is it that sets your company apart from your competitors and really defines who you are? Is it a sense of creativity, innovation, and being on the cutting edge? Is it a sense of social responsibility and a concern for the greater good? Is it tradition and pride in reliability and quality? In order to get the best understanding of your unique culture, be sure to reach out to employees at all the levels of the organization. After all, the people make the culture.
After you have a clear picture of your organizational culture, determining culture fit is really as easy as determining skill or ability fit. Modern assessments can measure a vast array of competencies critical to culture fit, from integrity to competitiveness. Once you have narrowed your candidate pool to those with the necessary skills, you can use assessments to pinpoint the candidates who can best fit your culture. Interviews, too, can be targeted to assessing aspects of culture fit, as can less frequently used options such as realistic job previews.
Whatever the method, the goal of assessing culture fit is the same for all HR professionals: understanding company culture and ensuring that selection efforts are aligned with that culture to maximize hiring success. Employees are more apt to feel satisfied in a culture where they feel they are a good fit, and employers are likely to see greater commitment and better retention of their employees. When it comes to hiring, culture really is king.
About the Author: Dr. Katherine A. Sliter works as a Talent Measurement Consultant at Performance Assessment Network (pan), helping businesses to understand how to hire and retain top talent. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and has taught, practiced, and published in the areas of assessment design, data analysis, and applied psychometrics.