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The Pros and Cons of Hiring for ‘Cultural Fit’

Source | : By Lauren Dixon

Company culture at human resources technology company Bonfyre App emphasizes trust, care and empathy, and the employees who align to these values tend to excel. To determine cultural fit, Rob Seay, the St. Louis-based company’s HR director, said it makes sure to spend time with candidates outside of the office in less rigid environments like coffee shops to get to know prospective hires, learn about their character and how they approach difficult situations.

Seay said employee alignment to company culture influences worker satisfaction, engagement and retention. If an environment focuses on being collaborative and team-oriented, but individuals focus only on individual achievements, “that environment might be really difficult for them to really work to their true potential,” Seay said.

Despite the importance of company culture, few organizations do well at establishing it properly. According to research by professional services firm Deloitte on the topic, only 12 percent of respondents indicated their organization was “excellent at driving the desired culture.”

To identify company culture, business leaders must think about the values that drive their business, said Katie Bouton, CEO of Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm focused on mission-driven organizations based in Newburyport, Massachusetts. “That’s absolutely critical to being able to begin to assess for culture fit.”

Bouton sees “cultural fit as an important tool, especially for younger generations, who she said don’t see a lot of difference between their work and personal lives in terms of how they live out their values. “Since we spend a third of our lifetime at work, I think people are really looking for that kind of alignment,” she said.

Organizations are getting better at defining company culture. Although terminology of “cultural fit” became popular primarily in the past decade, it’s only been recently that organizations became more particular about defining their principles, said Justin Hirsch, president and HR executive search lead for Jobplex Inc., a midlevel executive search firm. Business leaders are doing well at publishing detailed information about their cultures in handbooks, job posts and other places they broadcast their employer brand.

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