Going beyond hiring for a suitable culture

Story Highlights

  • Hiring for an Adaptive Culture Can Unwittingly Encourage Unconscious Bias
  • It’s time to stop trying to “fit” new hires into the organizational culture
  • Culture add — a new take on culture add — celebrates diversity and talent

I spend a lot of time talking to clients about their hiring practices and see the extreme variability in how different organizations understand and approach hiring decisions. Recently, in discussions with employees at a Gallup client factory, a machinist told me, “We never have a say in who gets hired. They just show up and sit next to us, often unable to get along. .” When asked what they would look for if they were involved in the hiring process, I heard: “A good sense of humor. Having easy banter with the rest of us – fitting in, you know!”

After the conversation, the human resources manager at the factory confessed to me that he didn’t like this notion of needing good “chatter” in the workplace, saying it was used as a front to slightly veil the misogyny and racism expressed. The HR manager felt that the idea of ​​’cultural fit’ was tainted with bias and that the organization needed an ‘add culture’. I agreed and shared examples of how some of my clients have positively made this change to pursue their diversity and inclusion ambition. I also worked to align hiring practices with employee talents and aspirations.

Cultural fit is the idea of ​​hiring people whose value systems, beliefs, and day-to-day behaviors mesh well with those of the hiring organization to help keep the culture intact.

While it may seem reasonable and harmless, hiring decisions based on an individual’s perception of their cultural fit can be unfair and influenced by unconscious bias.

Culture add is a new version of the culture fit concept. Rather than making hiring decisions that create a seamless and familiar culture, adding culture promotes hiring decisions that focus on candidates’ unique and beneficial attributes, values, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s what they bring to your organization from their distinct perspective and experiences.

Rather than making hiring decisions that create a seamless and familiar culture, adding culture promotes hiring decisions that focus on candidates’ unique and beneficial attributes, values, beliefs, and behaviors.

Hiring for a suitable culture is often not fair

Hiring for culture fit assumes that the hiring decision maker understands and models the organizational values, beliefs and expected behaviors used to define the culture and can make a fair and informed selection decision.

However, decision makers often come with their own values ​​and beliefs which may not match those of the organization. Hiring techniques such as “airport testing”—assuming you’d like to be stuck in an airport with that person—and other arbitrary methods of assessing culture fit are often subject to first-person bias. printing and confirmation bias. And that’s the kind of bias hiring talent can avoid.

Lack of cultural fit is one of the main reasons for turning down candidates and firing probationary employees. But due to its subjective and ambiguous nature, “you don’t fit the culture” is generally not useful feedback to help candidates or employees improve, resulting in an unpleasant exit experience.

Under current market conditions, where 51% of currently employed workers report actively seeking new employment or monitoring job postings, employees are the “consumers of the workplace” and negative experiences at any stage of the employee journey compromise the employer. Mark.

Hiring for cultural fit requires cultural maturity

Hiring for cultural fit assumes a level of maturity in the cultural journey of an organization, including a healthy dose of awareness and training. However, the reality today is that about two in 10 employees strongly agree that they feel connected to their organization’s culture.

When an organization’s value systems, beliefs, and expected behaviors are aspirational rather than lived and practiced, hiring for cultural fit becomes difficult. This is demanding because often the decision makers themselves are not “fitted” with the desired culture, which makes the process seem hypocritical and selection decisions seem inauthentic.

Remote and hybrid working has complicated the ability to add culture in the future, with much of worker connection primarily through technology.

Part of the solution might be to add culture or revise the concept of cultural adaptation. Rather than making hiring decisions that create a culture of homogeneity and familiarity, adding culture promotes hiring decisions that focus on the unique and beneficial attributes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of candidates, allowing organizations to add valuable elements to their culture that it lacks. . Culture add celebrates diversity and recognizes that the organizational culture is constantly improving.

The fundamental need, however, is for organizations to recognize what they are hiring for and why it matters. Good hiring practices not only examine cultural needs, value systems, and technical skills, but also consider role-specific talent attributes and behaviors that account for high performance.

Good hiring practices not only examine cultural needs, value systems, and technical skills, but also consider role-specific talent attributes and behaviors that account for high performance.

At Gallup, our talent research explores the patterns and trends of top performers in each role. Organizations that hire candidates recommended by Gallup talent assessments tend to achieve 10% higher productivity, 30% higher productivity, and 10% lower employee turnover, in addition to other business outcomes.

In fact, Gallup’s guidance and tools help clients focus their hiring process on what it takes to achieve high performance while fostering diversity.

In other words, employers had better stop trying to adapt employees or job applicants to the culture of the workplace. Instead, they should to add to workplace culture by adjusting hiring practices to align them with employee talents, skills and aspirations.

Build an organizational culture you can be proud of:

Authors)

Mona Balasubramanian is a senior management consultant at Gallup.

Helen D. Jessen