What is culture fit?

The recruitment world is filled with content about why we should be hiring for culture fit and how it’s an extremely important concept. But what is it exactly that organisations mean when they say culture fit? It’s such a broad concept that so many people get it wrong because there are countless definitions and misinterpretations of the practice. We’re all striving to create that ‘perfect workplace culture’ as it becomes a growing trend, that many of us are just missing the point completely.

Building a culture

We can certainly try to build the culture we want – but the likelihood is that your organisation already has its own defined culture, so if you’re trying to change the way your employees currently work it’s going to be difficult.

True organisational culture lies in the people that work there. It’s about the way we collaborate with each other, the way we treat each other, and the way we all work together in the same environment. Culture is a big ecosystem of people and systems and how this works on a daily basis. So, when we’re aiming to ‘hire for cultural fit’, the actual meaning is that we’re looking for someone who will work well in this environment – generally meaning that their working style matches the business culture so they can thrive in the working environment.

The main mistake that recruiters make when trying to hire for cultural fit is misunderstanding the concept and hiring an employee who is simply very similar to other employees in the team. In its worst form, culture fit is used a tool to discriminate diversity. Culture fit screening is normally conducted free-form, and this is where it all tends to go wrong.

What we also need to be aware of is promoting a culture that doesn’t actually exist in our organisation – just to try and attract talented candidates. There are so many companies out there promoting their table tennis and lounge areas as their ‘culture’ but have suspiciously negative Glassdoor reviews about office politics and bad management.

Recruiting for true fit

Hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is important but attempts at it can introduce a lot of bias into the recruitment process. It’s something that is very rarely measured, and often not identical to the actual culture of the organisation. Sure, it’s difficult to truly recruit for culture fit, so it’s not surprising that many of us can get it wrong.

Enter values fit.

Hiring for values fit

Values describe things such as how people behave, treat each other, their motivators, and how they make decisions. When the phrase culture fit is thoughtfully and deliberately applied, it can act as a gauge for your organisational values and therefore truly represent culture fit.

Our values are the things that drive the way we work. For example, some of us value teamwork or collaboration a lot more than we value competitiveness or aggressiveness. When this is the case in the workplace, these opposite values will clash in teams. People hold a wide array of different values, each with different levels of importance. So, as an example, if we have a team of employees who each really strongly emphasise a group of the same personal values, they’ll work a lot better together than those who have completely different personal values.

These values that we hold drive the way we act and communicate in the workplace. So, when these values are aligned within an organisation, they can be used to truly understand what the workplace culture is like. We don’t all have to have the same background and life experiences to share the values that guide our work, meaning that hiring for values fit is a lot less likely to hinder diversity, and it’s a lot more likely to help improve the productivity of teams across many businesses. When looking at culture fit in its truest definition, hiring for values fit is a way of achieving this.

Measuring values fit

Measuring a person’s values is normally done through specific types of interview questions to try and gauge what their core values are, based on things such as how they would respond to a situation.

Here at Shine, we’ve developed a values-based recruitment platform that takes all the guess work out for you. Based on research and work we conducted with a behavioural psychologist, we’ve developed a scientifically backed method of assessing your candidates against your existing team.

In short, your existing team would take part in a quick, 15-minute benchmarking exercise, which involves ranking 36 core values in order of importance using a Q-Sort method. Your candidates will also complete the same exercise, but their results will be measured against the benchmark created for your team.

Our platform can fit seamlessly into any recruitment process. Feel free to get in touch for a no obligation chat about how it can work for you and your organisation!