- May 5, 2023
- 12 min read
Why is Cultural Fit Important When Hiring External Candidates
Employee culture compatibility is best described as the ability of an employee to fit in with the company culture. The notion, unfortunately, can be easily misunderstood – it doesn’t mean that all your employees must share the same beliefs, interests and behaviors. Such an approach to cultural fit assessment brings more harm than good, cultivating homogeneity and encouraging unconscious biases.
However, without considering cultural fit in the hiring process, you can end up employing toxic individuals who bully, harass or intimidate their colleagues.
In this article, we will discuss the impact of cultural fit on remote work success as well as the best practices to achieve workplace diversity and inclusivity.
Remote Work and Employee Engagement
Remote work is the practice of performing job duties outside of company space, using the internet and dedicated software. Learn more on how to make remote work collaboration efficient.
Remote work benefits
The pandemic has accelerated the widespread adoption of online collaboration and remote work. The trend toward going remote is expected to continue. The many advantages of remote work for employers include the following:
– A larger pool of candidates
With office jobs, companies were limited to searching for experts in a specific geographic area. If no one was suitable, they either had to offer a bigger salary, enticing fitting candidates to move or keep looking and waiting. However, with remote working, employers can choose and hire the best candidates, even if those are tens of kilometers away.
– Faster hiring
Most professionals don’t want to go back to the office. Hence, remote and hybrid jobs attract around 7 times more applicants nowadays. Combined with a larger talent pool, this means that filling a remote position is much faster.
– Lower expenses
When managing a fully remote workforce, you can cut office rent and maintenance expenses, including utilities, cleaning, food and, possibly, property taxes.
But there are savings beyond that. Many remote workers have lower salary expectations. There are three reasons for this. First, they might value flexibility more than higher monetary compensation. Second, they are saving on commuting. This is particularly relevant for people living in countries with subpar public transportation systems, where commuting often requires a car and can eat up a large portion of the paycheck. The third reason is the cost of living difference – for example, expenses in Newville, Pennsylvania, are much lower than in New York or Boston.
– Happier employees
With more flexibility and free time (saved on commuting), employees have a better work-life balance, making them happier. This results in higher retention rates and productivity.
Pro tip: for simpler, more efficient hiring and increased flexibility, use IT staff augmentation services.
The benefits of staff augmentation are:
1. Easy and fast international hiring
With staff augmentation, you can hire an expert living in another country without requiring extensive paperwork, such as visa permits. The agency will select befitting candidates for you. You choose who joins your project and then sign the contract with the agency for the provision of services.
2. Unprecedented flexibility – scale your team up or down as needed
You can hire a person for any period – from several months to years. This will give you more resources to mitigate project risks and resolve existing issues.
3. Excellent value for money ratio
There are several tech hubs worldwide where you can find a large concentration of top-tier tech talent. For instance, did you know that Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Boeing, Siemens, Ericsson and countless others have Research and Development centers in Ukraine? Or that Grammarly, WhatsApp, Gitlab, Ajax and RefaceAI were all founded or co-founded by Ukrainian developers? The true testimony to the success of Ukraine as a tech hub is that despite the war, the IT sector keeps growing! According to Forbes, by October 2022, the industry has exceeded the pre-war levels.
That is the value part. Regarding the price, due to the cost of living being lower than in the US or EU, top tech talent living in Ukraine or similar hubs can be hired for a reasonable price. For more information, read our article Cost Difference of Hiring In-house Developers in The UK vs. Eastern Europe Development
If you don’t have the expertise or resources to manage your IT project, consider using managed services – our article IT Staff Augmentation vs. Managed Services can help you learn which is better for your business.
Cultural fit and the importance of employee engagement
The level of employee engagement is, in large part, determined by the company’s corporate culture. And employee engagement, in turn, affects business results. In 2020, Gallup conducted a massive study of 276 organizations operating in 54 industries across 96 countries. They studied 2.7 million workers, comparing their engagement levels to various performance outcomes. The result has shown that teams falling into the top and bottom quartile regarding employee engagement had the following differences in performance outcomes:
- 81% in absenteeism;
- 18% in productivity;
- 10% in customer engagement;
- 23% in profitability;
- 41% in the number of defects.
Enhancing employee engagement in remote work
A common question is how to keep remote employees engaged. There are several methods:
1. Choose collaborative software wisely
Collaborative software’s efficiency for remote work is difficult to overestimate. Thus, proper software can increase the productivity of virtual teams by 20 to 30%. Moreover, retention levels tend to go up by a whopping 4.5 times!
For an in-depth analysis of remote work efficiency, including the role of collaborative software, check out our article 10 Techniques on How to Foster Effective Collaboration in Remote Teams.
2. Hold online educational webinars
Gathering together virtually from time to time is a good idea. Especially if your online event will present learning opportunities for your colleagues. You can include gamification elements in your learning session to boost engagement.
3. Encourage initiative
Promoting idea-sharing and initiative is vital for remote work employee engagement and productivity. First, this will make employees feel heard and valued. Second, employee suggestions will accelerate business growth.
4. Support wellness
Healthy, lively employees are much more likely to be engrossed in their work. Hence, supporting employee behaviors that lead to a healthier life is paramount. For example, you can insist on employees taking vacation days instead of offering monetary compensation for them. You can also reimburse your team for a gym or organize a yoga retreat.
Hiring Diversity and Inclusivity in the Workplace
An inclusive workplace is a work environment where employees are welcomed, respected and valued for their experience and unique qualities without having to conform. In such an environment, employees of different genders, races, age groups, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, including those with disabilities or previously incarcerated, feel a sense of belonging.
Inclusivity usually creates a diverse workplace culture where people of various groups are represented.
At the same time, without inclusivity, attempts to introduce diversity can lead to tokenism – a practice of doing something, such as hiring a representative of a minority or disadvantaged group, to make a company seem better without introducing systemic changes that would create a genuinely diverse and inclusive work environment. Thus, companies with largely discriminatory hiring practices might try to silence criticism by hiring several employees from underrepresented groups. Often, such employees are treated poorly. One person described to the BBC her experience as treated like a prop – constantly showcased to customers. At the same time, behind the scenes, she was assigned longer hours than her colleagues. She was also ignored by the management and strongly encouraged by her colleagues to straighten her naturally curly hair – a discriminatory issue rooted in systemic racism often faced by women of African descent.
The ultimate goal of inclusivity is to create equal workplace opportunities by eliminating systemic injustices, exclusivity culture and personal bias.
Beware of Poorly Trained AI Recruiting Software
With bias seeming endemic to the hiring process, many companies feel compelled to enlist AI to make some of the decisions or evaluations instead of people. After all, what is less biased than a machine, right? Unfortunately, there are multiple examples of AI tools hurting job candidate selection. AI Algorithms are often trained on data about previous applicants, which can include millions of previous biased decisions. This leads to AI picking up and amplifying human biases. Even telling the AI to ignore gender, race, age, etc., does not guarantee algorithm success, as it can focus on some attributes characteristic of a specific group. One AI tool, for instance, deemed the name Jared and the fact that a person played lacrosse in high school as the best indicators of candidates’ future success.
Moreover, when it comes to deep learning models, even software creators cannot always explain how the program reached a certain conclusion. Thus, companies using such software risk unknowingly integrating bias into their hiring process.
While discriminatory hiring practices are illegal in most parts of the world, legislators struggle to keep up with regulating new tech, affecting recruiting processes. Various countries, states and organizations are working on legislation to ensure AI compliance and transparency. Thus, the EU plans to introduce its Artificial intelligence Act this year (in 2023).
The role of cultural fit in hiring for a diverse and inclusive workplace
Building diversity and inclusion in remote work requires hiring with cultural compatibility in mind. In other words, employees you hire should share, support and reinforce your values. This is particularly critical when hiring for team fit management and leadership figures.
The modern standpoint on cultural fit in the hiring process is discovering team members that can contribute to your company and culture. Known as “culture add,” this approach encourages employers to value candidates who can introduce the team to new perspectives and solutions, therefore increasing the group’s potential for innovation, creativity and outside-the-box thinking. Favoring the cultural add approach leads to greater inclusivity and diversity compared to hiring for cultural alignment. It doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot hire people similar to you or existing employees, just don’t make it a default. Moreover, any new employee should be tolerant of others and aware of their own biases.
The benefits of hiring for a diverse and inclusive workplace
Hiring for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace brings many benefits. The most prominent advantages of employee diversity are:
– The best, most qualified candidates
Inclusivity means selecting the best candidates from the broadest talent pool possible, meaning you can choose the best and the brightest without letting biases hold you back.
– Better understanding of customers and other stakeholders
The company’s stakeholders include its clients, investors, employees and everyone affected by the business, one way or another. This includes many different groups of people who must be taken into consideration when making decisions.
Therefore, the lack of diversity in the product development team often leads to making products of subpar quality or not inclusive of all customers.
For example, several years ago, most manufacturers made bandages, either white or light beige, despite having customers with various skin colors. A Harvard Business Review study showed that employees who share a client’s ethnicity are 152% more likely to understand their needs.
Similar examples of product biases and discrimination can be found across most industries. Thus, facial recognition software often struggles to identify individuals with dark skin tones correctly. Seat belts were designed for men, making women 47% more likely to be injured in a car crash. Algorithmic photo checkers sometimes mistakenly notify people of Asian descent that their eyes are closed. Even soap dispensers sometimes discriminate against users based on their skin tone.
Having a diverse workplace helps companies prevent such issues from happening.
– Higher offline and remote work employee satisfaction and retention
Employee satisfaction tends to be higher in diverse workplaces. Moreover, when people feel they belong, they will likely stay with the company longer. Hence, the impact of cultural fit on employee satisfaction is difficult to overestimate.
Company culture survey and employee morale
Culture surveys are valuable tools that help employers receive feedback from their employees. They enable companies to monitor employee morale and satisfaction. Such surveys can contain some of the following questions:
– On a scale of 1 to 5, how comfortable do you feel expressing your opinion?
– Have you experienced or witnessed instances of workplace bullying or harassment?
– Do you feel respected by your management and colleagues?
– Do you understand how your work contributes towards the company’s business goals?
– What can be improved in our company?
These are several examples of what you can ask. Add questions relevant to the culture of your company.
Cultural Fit in the Hiring Process
In the previous section, we discussed fostering diversity and inclusivity as integral aspects of the corporate culture. Now, let us examine the best strategies to assess cultural fit during hiring.
How to assess cultural fit in hiring
Start by listing all the essential components of your corporate culture. Be realistic. If there are factors beyond your wishes that influence the behavior of your employees, be sure to note them. For example, governmental defense contractors or medical software developers responsible for sensitive patient data will likely have stringent security protocols, impacting the organization’s culture, decision-making speed and other aspects.
Things you might consider include the company’s mission, vision and goals, its preferences regarding management style and internal communications, the peculiarities of the decision-making process and employee expectations.
Cultural fit interview questions and employee compatibility
Measuring cultural fit in the workplace during the hiring process is not straightforward. When selecting the interview questions, let the created list of your culture’s traits guide you. For inspiration, review the following popular cultural fit interview questions:
– What are the characteristics of a perfect manager? What did you like and didn’t like about your previous manager?
This question will allow you to ascertain the preferred management style of the candidate.
– Why did you decide to become [profession name]? What inspires you to do your work?
Motivation plays a huge role in a person’s success. Do they enjoy what they do? If not, perhaps, a different position would speak more to them.
– What was the most challenging undertaking in your career? How did you approach it?
Challenges should stimulate professional growth rather than be a stumbling block. This question can help you understand the person’s approach to challenges.
– Are there any industries or business practices that you do not support?
Asking what a person doesn’t want to do is crucial. First, this will tell you more about their values. Second, there might be things about your company they wouldn’t like. For instance, if they consider lotteries a scam and your primary client is a casino, they might be disappointed.
– Did anyone make any amendments, improvements or suggestions to your work? How did you react?
These questions can tell whether the person is a team player and how they respond to criticism.
You can also read our articles on choosing a perfect developer or a CTO for more helpful information.
Cultural fit is an important aspect of employee engagement, but it should not be used as a tool for homogeneity or to encourage unconscious biases. Hiring individuals with diverse beliefs, interests, and behaviors can create a more inclusive and innovative workplace. Remote work offers numerous benefits such as a larger pool of candidates, faster hiring, and lower expenses, but it is important to choose collaborative software wisely and hold online educational webinars to enhance employee engagement. Using IT staff augmentation services and IT outsourcing can provide international hiring, flexibility, and excellent value for money ratio. Ultimately, companies that prioritize employee engagement will see better performance outcomes, including higher productivity, profitability, and lower absenteeism rates.
1. What is cultural fit?
Cultural fit refers to the alignment between a company's culture and values and an employee's personality, work style, and values. It ensures that an employee is compatible with the company's environment and can work collaboratively with colleagues.
2. What is the importance of cultural fit when hiring?
Cultural fit is important because it affects employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Employees who fit well within the company's culture are more likely to be engaged and motivated, resulting in better job performance and lower turnover rates.
3. How to hire for culture fit?
Hiring for cultural fit involves assessing a candidate's values, work style, and personality through interviews, assessments, and reference checks. Companies can also use culture fit interview questions and conduct a company culture survey to determine the candidate's compatibility with the company culture.
4. What are 3 qualities that new hires must have in terms of culture fit?
New hires must have qualities that align with the company's values, work style, and environment. They should have strong communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively with others, and a positive attitude towards challenges and changes.
5. Is hiring for cultural fit biased?
Hiring for cultural fit can be biased if companies do not take steps to ensure that they are not excluding candidates based on their background or demographics. It is essential to ensure that the hiring process is inclusive and diverse to avoid discrimination based on cultural fit.
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