Firstly, what is company culture, well Wikipedia says organisational culture encompasses values and behaviours that “contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business”. defines company culture as “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time.” I like this as it feels all-encompassing and even includes myths which whilst not true highlights how people feel.

Now we all know that people differ and that’s part of what makes life and people in particular interesting. Peoples differences are often more obvious in their personal life in that some people enjoy jumping out of planes whilst others choose to spend their spare time looking at trains. However, people’s differences aren’t just about their personal life, it’s just as important to understand what their values are to maximise their productivity and ultimately their happiness at work.

Whilst people (and I’m one of them) often say money is a key factor in any job, whilst this may be true in determining if they want to initiate a discussion with a company, this soon becomes no more than a hygiene factor and is rarely seen as a key motivator on a day to day basis. It’s far more likely to be the environment, people, type of work, flexibility of hours, location and recognition amongst others and a lot of this comes down to cultural fit. Are you working for an organisation and with people that have similar values and behaviours to you? However, whilst many people will recognise the importance of aligning values, behaviours & culture, often the finer details are prioritised differently between contractors and permanent staff.

Most people spend a third of their lives at work so getting this right is important, so why do we often get it wrong? All too often hiring managers are attracted to someone’s experience or skills and believe this to be the most important thing and then want to get them in as quickly as possible to avoid them being snapped up by a competitor. However, the reality is if their personality, working style and behaviour on the job are inconsistent with the values and expectations of your organisation they are unlikely to flourish, be motivated, perform to their full potential or even stay for long. Having people in an organisation that aren’t a good fit doesn’t just impact them, it also affects the people around them and a mismatch at a very senior level, can be felt across the company and others may start to question if they are working for the right company.

A 2005 meta-analysis by Kristof-Brown reported that employees who fit well with their organisation, co-workers, and supervisor: Had greater job satisfaction, Identified more with their company, were more likely to remain with their organisation, were more committed and showed superior job performance.

When recruiting a new employee, it may appear vital that they have the required knowledge and skills for the role. However, current knowledge and skill sets change over time and can quickly become redundant – an organisation’s culture is much more fixed and provides an anchor for its employees. A new member of staff with the right cultural fit can develop their skills in the role, but their attitude and values are much harder to change. Cultural fit cannot be developed, so it is imperative to take it into account during the recruitment process.

There are loads of different figures that report the true cost of recruiting the wrong person in your business but I think most people would be surprised at any of the figures.
Dr Brad Smart has estimated 5 times the annual salary is the true cost of a bad hire. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average UK salary is £27,271. So, getting an average job-level hire wrong is going to cost your business in excess of £136,355, so you can imagine how much this goes up when you recruit at a senior level. The reason this is so high is that beyond the obvious recruitment/training costs you have the hidden costs of those miss hires, such as; recruiting their own people (who equally aren’t a good fit), reputational damage, loss of customers and reduced employee morale resulting in decreased productivity. You would be surprised at the number of employers who have made hires where they later regretted their decision and quickly saw the impact of that bad hire but of course not all bad hires are as a result of a poor cultural fit but it’s certainly up there.

So, what can you do?

Don’t just rely on your gut instincts or questions based on competency, there are quantifiable methods you can use such as:

• Your job description is most likely the first information job candidates will see about working for your company. Make sure it includes your mission statement, as well as a sentence or two about your company culture and values. Candidates are also likely to visit your website so ensure this is consistent with the values and culture of the company.

• Ask specific values-based questions that allow the candidate to show evidence of the values they have displayed in the past when faced with a certain situation.

• Use personality tests where the candidate fills in a questionnaire about their characteristics and the traits they would find appealing or unappealing in an ideal organisation. This is then matched against the organisation’s culture to spot areas of alignment or disparity.

• Seek values-based feedback as part of your referencing process.

• Arrange site visits, hold the interview in the department they would be working in, let them meet the team, perhaps in a social setting or join a team meeting to assess the dynamics.

• Between hiring, ask around to see if your process reflects your company culture. Ask recent hires what worked and what didn’t. If possible, speak to candidates who you offered jobs to but turned down to find out why they opted out of your company. You can always improve your hiring practices, so they better align with your company culture.

• Get an 3rd party independent view from someone who works in the team.

It’s important to understand that hiring for culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same. The values and attributes that make up an organisational culture can and should be reflected in a richly diverse workforce.

My personal experience is that my happiness at work is very much impacted by the culture around me, even whilst working for the same company for 19 years this changed at various times during my career based on new leadership and others around me. Sometimes people came in who I felt weren’t aligned to company values and ultimately my values and this affected my happiness and even made me consider leaving. So regardless of how clear you are on your culture, values & strategy if you don’t assess the people you bring in for alignment with these it will muddy the water and cause confusion and disharmony in your business.

The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that happy workers are 12 percent more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive.

I believe if you can combine finding the right people who share the cultural beliefs with effective and ongoing training and professional development you will see better staff engagement, performance, retention and ultimately profit.

At Simplify Resourcing we believe in more than just finding people with the right skills and experience for the role, in fact we feel its fundamental to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for the company. We take the time at the outset to understand our client’s business, in particular their culture, values and environment which provides a great platform to finding the right people to match. Come and speak to us if you want to find out how we can help your business connect with the best talent, who are the right fit for your business. Contact us: