Hiring for cultural fit is important in retaining staff and maintaining corporate performance. But how do you ensure good cohesion within volume recruitment?
Does it matter? I’m in a hurry…
When you need hundreds or even thousands of employees fast, it’s tempting to just list the skills you need and get those vacancies out there. But employees are more than a set of skills and the wrong ones can cost you.
The cost of replacing an employee was estimated at £30,614 in an report by forecaster Oxford Economics back in 2014, taking into account lost output and the cost of recruiting and absorbing a new worker. It is undoubtedly higher now. Whatever it might be for your business, it can easily add up to hundreds of thousands when you are recruiting a large number of people.
Poor attitude can be contagious too – one employee who bucks your organisational culture can infect others, ultimately leading to wider morale problems. That said, not all employees have to be exactly the same or think the same way, of course, there will be a normal way of doing things within your business culture.
So it is important to bear in mind corporate culture even in volume recruitment. It may take more initial preparation, but it will save you time and trouble later on.
So what is your corporate culture – and how does that affect hiring?
There’s a lot of confusion between corporate culture and corporate values. Corporate values are commonly set out on websites and advertisements, and often consist of a string of aspirational words aimed mainly at customers and investors. They should inform corporate culture – but they might not. Carillion stated: ‘We care, we improve, we deliver, we achieve together.’ A committee of MPs, investigating why it collapsed, reported that its finance director regarded its company pensions schemes as “a waste of money”. Not much care for employees there.
Corporate culture, however, is the ‘feel’ inside the company. Is it formal or informal? Is everyone consulted about decisions or are they handed down from the top? Are employees given lots of autonomy or does the organisation specify how things should be done?
Corporate values may remain the same throughout the organisation, but culture can differ among departments. You probably would not expect your accounts department to display exactly the same behaviours as your sales team.
Try to speak to staff in similar roles to get their opinions on culture, if it’s possible to do so.
Conveying corporate culture in job ads
As well as what your culture is, candidates need to know what it means for them, in practical terms. What attitudes and behaviours does it require?
So as well as describing your culture as ‘dynamic and fast moving’, try qualifying this by adding the behaviour you expect, such as, ‘Can you deal with ten customers in 20 minutes and still keep smiling?’ Instead of: ‘customer-focussed’, try, ‘Are you happy making an extra effort to keep customers happy?’ Rather than just ‘passionate,’ consider adding, ‘Are you willing go the extra mile to ensure tasks get done?’
You should also think about the exchange – if an employee is giving you all of this, what do you give them in return?
Culture and the Employer Value Proposition
Your corporate culture can also demonstrate your employer value proposition (EVP), and attract candidates who share your culture. Home Instead, a care company, for instance, mentions in its recruitment advertising that its caregivers spend at least an hour with each client (unlike many care companies which provide 15 minute slots). Naturally this is likely to attract caregivers who share Home Instead’s belief in building a relationship with clients, aligning employees with the company’s values and culture.
Ads can also highlight your EVP by giving practical examples of how you invest in your employees, by mentioning benefits, such as health insurance or childcare vouchers.
Recruit for culture or train for it later?
In the care sector, companies typically recruit for cultural fit and then provide training. If you have a well-developed training programme, which many mass-employers do, cultural fit may be more important than pre-existing skills. This need not mean culture should not be a part of training – every organisation’s culture is different.
Translating this to CVs
CVs alone can sometimes be an indicator of the candidate’s corporate fit. If they have worked in your industry before, you will probably know what kind of corporate culture prevails in the organisations where they have worked.
However, where you don’t know this, and candidates do not mention the corporate culture they prefer, questions designed to check behaviours are valuable. While these are easily asked in interviews, you may not have time or resources to interview numerous candidates when recruiting in quantity. Consider asking candidates to give examples of when they have displayed the behaviours that fit into your corporate culture.
Don’t fall into this trap
Finally – recruiting candidates for cultural fit is NOT the same as selecting people who hiring managers think they will get along with. And that’s a common mistake we’ve all made. It’s natural to like people who share your outlook and interests – and we have all heard about candidates who have got the job because they and the interviewer follow the same football team. But looking for candidates who are ‘people like us’ is a recipe for lack of diversity in an organisation at best, and discrimination at worst.
To counter this, some companies use a skills and fit matrix to help them advertise for and identify the right skills and culture fit. This is an attempt to make the idea of cultural fit as objective as possible, and will ultimately help you make better hires in the long term.