This is why culture fit counts

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We all know that lonely feeling when you feel like the odd one out.

Some of us left these feelings behind on the school playground, but for many of us it resurfaces again at work. Being a square peg in a round hole makes you doubt yourself, question your own judgement and feel vulnerable, alienated and miserable.

Imagine this was your experience day in, day out at work. Spending five days a week somewhere that you don’t feel like you belong is hardly conducive to being positive, productive and motivated. Not fitting in to the culture of an organisation can really affect the ability of employees to perform to the best of their abilities and give 100%.

In a recent survey, we asked 1,000 employees to rate their productivity in their current job. We also asked them whether they felt like they were a good fit for their company’s culture.

Those that said that they were a good fit rated their productivity on average as 7.18 out of 10.

Those that said that they were not a good fit rated their productivity on average at just 5.29 out of 10. This is a startling 36% lower and represents a significant difference in performance. Culture fit is clearly important, but how do you get it right?


Know your own culture

As companies are waking up to the importance of employee experience, culture fit has become an increasingly hot topic.

In research we conducted last year, we found that almost all HR leaders (96%) agreed that culture  fit is crucial , but only 11% said they were satisfied with how they approached the topic.

This means the vast majority of companies are in the dark on how to achieve culture fit.

The most effective way to measure cultural alignment in the workplace is to do an objective assessment. Understanding where your company values and culture appear in the workplace is hugely valuable in being able to predict person-environment fit. By describing real-life scenarios where your culture and values impact employee behaviour, it’s possible to build up a picture of company culture that is objective and measurable.


Measure candidates against the culture

Once you have the knowledge of what your culture is, and importantly how that manifests itself in the workplace, it’s then possible to assess potential new hires against these criteria to see how well they are likely to fit in and feel at home.

If how candidates prefer to work is at odds with the way things happen in your organisation, they will invariably find it difficult to be as productive as possible, no matter what skills and experience they have.

Using data to understand culture fit ensures organisations stand a much better chance of ensuring all their employees fulfill their potential.

Capability, Commitment, Culture Fit

You can break down a high performing employee into three components: capability, commitment, and culture fit.

All three of these can be measured: Capability is whether a person has the necessary skills and ability to do the job. Commitment is whether a person has the desire to do the job and is really motivated to succeed at what they do.

Culture fit is most often the missing ingredient, as we’ve discussed. All these elements can be measured in an objective manner which allows candidates to be compared fairly like for like.

Culture fit is not about being right or wrong, it’s about deciding whether the employee will thrive in your environment. If an employee has different preferences to the culture you’ve placed them in, don’t hope for the best and try and make it work. It may be time to let them go.

Our survey found that almost a third of employees (32%) have left a company as the culture wasn’t what they expected it to be. This shows just how important it is to get that cultural fit right. Employees are prepared to move if that fit isn’t right.

It’s important to understand what part culture plays in the onboarding process. Being open and honest about your culture and ensuring this is front and centre from the very first contact with a candidate, will ensure that you don’t waste everyone’s time. It will also help to avoid the expensive process of getting the hire wrong.

If you take the time to understand and define how the teams in your business like to work, it won’t just improve your teams’ performance, it’ll take the guesswork out of ensuring employees that feel at home at your company.


By Christopher Platts, CEO of ThriveMap