Why Cultural Fit is Vital to Employee Success

Corporate culture permeates every aspect of the work environment in which employees operate, from the way you recruit to the everyday aspects of office life. Here's some fresh thinking.

Do you remember that little wooden puzzle platform you had as a child – the one with the square, circle, rectangle, and star-shaped cut-outs and the wooden pieces to match?

Perhaps it was just such a puzzle that taught you the valuable lesson that you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole.

It takes very little time for a child to understand this concept. But as you grow older, sometimes you forget it. For instance, if you are an executive recruiter, have you ever been guilty of hiring a candidate that was just not a good fit?

Understanding Corporate Culture

For the most part, a misfire in recruiting and hiring comes, not from a mismatch between job skills and the requirements of a specific position, but in a bad cultural fit between the new hire and the company that employs him or her.

Therefore, it is imperative for executive recruiters to have a strong grasp of corporate culture before recruiting begins in earnest. But, what really is corporate culture?


The Myth and Reality of Cultural Fit
Within HR and recruitment, we’ve been using the term “cultural fit” – generally defined as the ability of an employee to fit with the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up an organization – for a decade or two.


Recruiter.com gives this good definition of corporate culture:

“Corporate culture is an umbrella term for the shared practices and values of a company’s employees. The corporate culture guides how the employees of the company act, feel, and think. The corporate culture is also the social and psychological environment of an organization. It symbolizes the unique personality of a company and expresses the core values, ethics, behaviors, and beliefs of an organization.”

Thus, your corporate culture permeates every aspect of the work environment in which employees operate, from the way you recruit to the everyday aspects of office life. Your culture either encourages engagement, or it does not. It either fosters employee retention or leads to increased employee attrition. In short, your corporate culture is who you are as an organization.

The Value of a Good Cultural Fit

Executive recruiters, then, must take care to vet candidates according to cultural fit. Harvard Business Review observes:

“Cultural fit is the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up your organization. And a 2005 analysis revealed that employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and the supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance.”

This, of course, does not imply that diversity is not a key factor in corporate success. At its core, cultural fit is not about a lack of diversity at all. Hiring for cultural fit is about finding candidates whose characteristics and personality traits will contribute in a positive way to the existing corporate culture within an organization. These personality traits can be found within a wide range of diverse candidates because they are not defined by a candidate’s ethnicity, socio-political status, or even educational background.

Finding a candidate that will be a good cultural fit can be even more important than hiring for a certain skillset. Why? The answer lies in this simple truth: A candidate lacking in some job skill can always be taught that skill if needed, but a candidate who will not be comfortable and at ease with your corporate culture will not be a successful, happy, engaged employee.

The Takeaway

Even when a candidate has impeccable credentials and meets all other criteria for hire, you must still evaluate whether that candidate will be an acceptable cultural fit with your organization. This is where your skills as an executive recruiter must come fully into play.

Evaluating a candidate based on the likelihood that he or she will mesh well with an organization requires skill in talent management. It involves developing a relationship with potential candidates, mining each interaction with them for signs of a good cultural fit.

Thrive TRM is a talent management solution that enables you to develop relationships with candidates and build healthy talent pipelines. Thrive TRM fosters consistent communication with candidates, from initial contact through onboarding and beyond. To see Thrive TRM at work, simply schedule your demo today!

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by Reed Flesher, who is the founder and president of Thrive TRM. Original post here.

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