When your company is looking for the ideal candidate for an open position, there are a lot of criteria to consider. Of course you need to make sure an employee has a certain baseline level of skills — but technical knowledge of how to do the job is definitely not the only thing that matters
In fact, there’s an argument to be made that it’s perhaps more important to make sure a new employee will be a good fit with your corporate culture and organizational values than to ensure the candidate knows every detail of how to accomplish job tasks.
Why prioritize cultural fit? Here are three big reasons.
1. You can’t train an employee to embrace new values
Training someone on hard skills isn’t that difficult — especially if they have a baseline of knowledge to build on. But training adults to change how they work, learn, and interact with others is likely to be a futile effort.
All successful companies have certain core values, such as a competitive workplace culture, a focus on embracing zany ideas, or a dedication to fostering cross-team collaboration. Workers who are a mismatch can’t — and shouldn’t — be forced to try to change their personalities just to embrace your company’s ethos.
Instead, it’s best to hire someone who will mesh well with colleagues from day one so you don’t create friction.
2. Employees who are a good fit are less likely to leave
When an employee leaves, it costs your company a lot of money. In fact, the costs of turnover could be as high as 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary.
Unfortunately, employees who don’t fit in with company culture are far less likely to stay for the long term…for obvious reasons. If you’re an introvert who likes working alone, would you want to be surrounded by outgoing coworkers who chatter all day? Probably not — and this type of mismatch could lead a worker to leave an organization quickly.
By contrast, research has shown employees who are a good fit with their organization’s culture generally enjoy their jobs more, are more committed to their work, are more engaged, and are less likely to depart for other opportunities.
Real-world companies have also found success with hiring for cultural fit, including Zappos, which wasted more than $100 million on bad hires before prioritizing culture as a hiring criterion. By identifying deal breakers, such as an unwillingness to socialize with colleagues, the e-commerce company has reduced its turnover and built a dedicated workforce so it can promote from within.
3. Productivity increases when staff members work well together
Productive collaboration is essential to business success. Unfortunately, a single employee who doesn’t work well with others can have a marked impact on the performance of an entire team.
This is particularly true when a negative employee is brought on board who attacks or bullies others, doesn’t communicate well, behaves irresponsibly, or doesn’t do his or her part.
Effective teamwork doesn’t mean every employee is the same. In fact, diversity of viewpoints is beneficial to business. However, the key to making a diverse workforce productive is underlying shared values that create an open environment in which everyone feels free to speak up and new ideas are embraced.
Companies increasingly recognize the value of cultural fit
With so many benefits of hiring staff members that are a good fit, it’s no wonder more than 80% of companies indicate they prioritize culture in their hiring criteria.
Personality tests and an interview process that focuses on shared values — like Southwest Airlines’ behavioral interviews focused on identifying a “warrior spirit” and “service heart” — can help you find a candidate that’s a great addition to your team.