You’ve seen phrases like “culture is king” and “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and you’re probably wondering what that means for you or if you should even care. Maybe you work for an organization with a great culture and you don’t have to do a lot of work to spread the word, or maybe you work for an organization with an awful culture that you don’t want to talk about, so culture isn’t on your radar. Regardless of the scenario, the reality is that word is getting out about your culture and you could be missing the opportunity to influence that message. Culture can be a competitive advantage for your organization and it can increase employee morale if leveraged correctly.
What is Culture?
Culture isn’t bean bag chairs for desk chairs or ping pong in the breakroom, it’s the habits of the people in your organization. It can certainly include fun things, but things are just a by-product of your company’s culture. Culture influences your engagement and results, it’s rooted in employee experience and it’s what your people say about your organization to others. Culture doesn’t replace strategy, but it should be part of your strategy.
6 ways to use your culture during the hiring process:
- Identify your culture. You should define your culture in writing. If you haven’t done that yet, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a culture—it just means you haven’t identified it. Identifying your culture empowers you to include examples, stories, perspectives, etc., about company culture in your recruiting campaigns. When candidates see and hear the message of your company culture repeated consistently from their first exposure to the last, they are more likely to believe the message.
- Give your culture a voice. Take to the hallways and ask employees to share their experience as it pertains to your culture. Communicate your organization’s story. How did the culture you have come to life? Why is it important and how does it impact day-to-day functions?
- Reinforce your culture. Before your interview team meets candidates, make sure they know how to share their experiences with the company culture. Encourage them to think about what your culture means to them and how the organization supports employee needs in a way that reflects the culture.
- Be sure your assessments reflect your culture. Consider interview questions and create equitable and culturally responsive assessment tests. Your interview style is important. Give candidates an opportunity to share their perspective, being sure to ask questions that will guide them away from parroting back to you what you’ve already shared with them.
- Flaunt it. During the interview, walk candidates around. Show them where people are so they can see your culture in action. Invite them to a lunch with the team they may be joining. This is an excellent and low-cost way to allow candidates to get up close and personal with your culture before either of you make a final decision.
- Introduce your boomerang employees. During your recruiting process, use employees who have returned to your organization after having worked somewhere else. Give them the opportunity to share why they came back to your organization. Their stories will demonstrate the impact your culture has had on them.
Why should you care?
Save money by hiring right the first time. You already know it costs money when an employee leaves your organization, so leverage your company’s culture for the sake of yourself and your job candidates. Interviewing candidates for a cultural fit allows them to self-select out of a culture they won’t be happy in, saving your organization time and investment. Having employees who believe, engage, and buy in to your culture will result in higher retention and less money spent on turnover.
Hiring for cultural fit could be damaging to your organization. Instead, you should look for candidates whose diverse values and backgrounds add to your culture.
Thousands of articles have popped up about how hiring for cultural fit is the worst thing you could ever do. But, in my opinion, this is the key to having a culture with engaged employees.
Indeed, skills and professional experience aren’t the only things you should consider when hiring employees. Hire them for their cultural fit, too.
Madison, I would agree that it CAN be the worst thing you could ever do, if you do it incorrectly. It shouldn’t be used as an excuse to hire people like yourself or to only hire people who believe certain things that you believe. It can be a positive for all parties involved if used correctly in addition to other factors.