RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

Fitting In

The importance of cultural connection is greater than you may think.

By Michael Beygelman
In a competitive market, organizations are doing all they can to ensure long-term profits. Creating an organizational culture that fosters success should be at the top of every executive’s list. Great organizations know that nurturing a positive culture is often the difference between average and exceptional. Recent findings of the 2013 Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture Survey indicate that organizations with a strong culture and a sense of purpose enjoy perennial success and strong financial performance.

Considering all of the efforts that go into fostering a culture that aligns with organizational values, why do managers often hire people largely based on well-written resumes rather than those holistically qualified candidates who show a qualitative cultural fit?

It is tempting to hire a candidate whose resume lists years of experience and requisite skills, particularly when an immediate void needs to be filled. But at what cost? How often do new hires fail to live up to expectations because they are a poor fit for the organization? According to Breaking the Cycle of Failure in Servicesfrom the MIT Sloan Management Review, the average cost to a company as a result of hiring an employee who does not fit within an organization is 150 percent of their salary. And the bottom-ranked 20 percent of employees who do not fit a company’s culture consume 80 percent of its time and cost. Rushing to hire candidates based solely on their resumes is certainly more expensive than investing in the process of attracting, selecting, and retaining candidates who can quickly assimilate and champion organizational values. It is no wonder that many Fortune 500 companies have been using job-fit assessments to better align target candidates as potential new hires.

This leaves the challenge of how to identify the ideal candidate, the one who transcends experience and skill set by possessing the less-tangible qualities that could lead to a better cultural fit and, ultimately, the overall success of the new hire within the organization.

Before best-fit candidates can be identified, there must first be a thorough understanding of the existing organizational culture. What are the organizational values, beliefs, and working styles? These norms define how an organization’s employees interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders. Determining company culture has been done a number of ways: casual observation, employee quizzes, focus groups, data collections, and culture assessment instruments. With an understanding of their company’s culture, organizations can attract candidates who might be better aligned with that, and hiring managers are equipped with the information they need to interview based on experience and skill-set, as well as the values and norms best suited for the team and organization.

Being armed with just that information by itself might not be enough. To develop a value proposition that resonates with best-fit candidates, the organization’s talent acquisition function should consider using technology to capture the uniqueness of the organizational culture and provide insights into what makes the environment distinctive relative to competitors. This intelligence can become the foundation for realistic job branding toward candidates.

With the right mix of applicants, a technology-based analytics platform can quickly—and inexpensively— identify best-fit candidates. Using embedded behavioral and psychometric assessments, companies can begin to measure knowledge, attitudes, personality traits, emotional intelligence, and competency alignment without slowing down the recruitment process. Using validated predictors of job success, organizations can score each candidate as a strong or weak fit. These additional candidate attributes offer hiring managers broader perspectives about the candidates they are interviewing.

Companies can no longer afford to hire based on a resume then fire based on culture or fit. New hires bring the opportunity to synergistically augment a team. With average salaries near $46,000 and average manager salaries approaching $110,000, the wrong choice can disrupt the team and cost an organization anywhere from $69,000 to $165,000. Beyond only asking if the candidate has the skills and experience to do the job, hiring managers should also be asking if the candidate has the right behavioral and cultural fit to do the job successfully within the confines of your organizational culture.
Michael Beygelman is the North America RPO presidentat Pontoon. He can be reached at michael.beygelman@ pontoonsolutions.com.

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