Pitfalls of Culture Fit: Guide To Marketing Your Culture For Recruitment

Blog / Pitfalls of Culture Fit: Guide To Marketing Your Culture For Recruitment

by | May 15, 2022 | Uncategorized

In a time when job seekers conduct unprecedented due diligence on potential employers before applying for a role or taking up a position in such companies, promoting company culture has become a necessity. At this point, employer branding is now a great recruitment tool, and marketing workplace culture is an effective way for employers to engage this tool to improve the recruitment process. 

According to Andy Ingham, Senior Vice President of Sales at Bullhorn, “talent is spending more time than ever researching and evaluating a potential employer — including the quality of the employee experience on offer. This plays a crucial part in determining whether or not they choose to apply for a job. Therefore, businesses must ensure that their employer branding accurately reflects what the organization stands for and that it’s promoted effectively across many digital platforms.” 

Hiring for “what the organization stands for” doesn’t necessarily mean hiring for culture fit, though, as that might mean doubling down on corporate foibles for many organizations. For employers to attract the best fit to their organizations, Ingham thinks the new paradigm focuses on clearly communicating their workplace culture in job ads when monitoring the public’s perception of their brand.

Placed against the backdrop of continued employee churn and increased adoption of either remote or hybrid work models, employer branding for talent acquisition not only gives you a competitive edge over other employers but also allows you to put forward your employee value proposition strategically control the narrative surrounding your brand reputation. Ingham, in line with this, suggests that companies need to rethink effective ways to market their culture.

Marketing the Culture

If a company invests time and resources to shape its workplace reputation in the minds of the talent pool, the firm would want as many of them as possible to understand what it stands for. It would be easier for recruiters to actually attract the best talents to their team. To achieve this much-needed publicity, companies can leverage the reach of platforms like Better Business Bureau, Glassdoor, or Google My Business; third-party platforms like CareerBuilder, Indeed, or Monster; social media posts, client referrals, employee testimonials, and endorsements from former business associates. 

On building and sustaining a solid reputation as a great place to work, Ingham mentioned that “A positive reputation as a workplace represents employee trust. Firms should build up a network of online advocates to broadcast this trust. There’s no use developing a unique culture but keeping it a secret.”

Reviews from current and former employees do influence whether the candidates you’re currently interviewing will accept the offer at your company or not. Sending in their applications in the first place is heavily hinged on the picture those reviews create about your company. With over 45 million reviews, salaries, and insider insights on many companies, job seekers are now — more than ever — able to make more informed choices about where they want to work. 

This means that recruiters must promote the truth about their firm, and HR must promote the same culture it is selling to the public within the organization to ensure consistency. Companies can also take advantage of third-party referrals from business associates and blogs/articles on career sites like CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkUp, and Job.com to promote a positive image of their work culture. 

Addressing Core Employee Concerns

In the last two years, more employees have left their jobs than has ever been recorded worldwide before. According to the Labor Department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, a record-shattering 47.4 million workers voluntarily left their jobs for better work during the pandemic and Great Resignation. According to a report by Pew Research, the majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cited low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%), and feeling disrespected at work (57%) as their reasons for leaving. About 48% of those nursing a child younger than 18 months said childcare issues were significant reasons why they left.  

These, in combination with the global COVID situation and the increased quest for work-life balance, all gave rise to what came to be known as the Great Resignation in the past two years. Many workers in the U.S prefer to either work remotely or just go to the office for a few days and spend the rest of the week working from home. However, to bring workers back to office buildings, organizations like Google and Microsoft are creating enticing work environments. For instance, Google is designing ‘Team Pods’ instead of using rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms. Each pod is a blank canvas: chairs, desks, whiteboards, and storage units on casters that can be wheeled into various arrangements. 

By strategically addressing the workplace concerns of millennials, organizations can positively reshape their cultural perception and attract and keep the best talents on their teams. As mentioned earlier, the use of online advocates to promote employer branding is a great way to go, as suggested by Ingham. 

Why Recruiters Need to Look Beyond Culture Fit

The idea of culture fit is a great one. After all, every organization wants people whose skills and career interests align with the company’s goals and objectives. Bringing on someone whose career trajectory is divergent from the team’s can be a clog in the wheel of progress. However, the idea of hiring only for culture fit is inherently flawed. But how?

The quest for culture fit may not always do justice to the increasing demand for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. Culture fit creates a homogeneous workplace. At best, hiring for culture fit may perpetuate bias during recruitment — which does not represent the best interests of employers, either. Instead of going for talents who fit the most within the organization, recruiters should consider those whose skills and experiences will help the company achieve its business goals.

Nowadays, companies now hire for culture add because merely focusing on culture fit can create a workplace culture that might not be as inclusive as it’s supposed to be. ‘Fitting the culture’ impinges upon the proper representation of marginalized groups, such as Blacks, LGBTQIA+, women, non-Judeo-Christian religions, etc. This does not necessarily mean taking merit out of the consideration but rather making the opportunities accessible to everyone who is qualified. Instead of having a monotonous work policy and procedures, culture add allows teams to onboard people with new or better perspectives on how work should be done. It also encourages talents with skills and values that complement the importance of the organization to apply. 

Hiring for Diversity is Good for Business

According to a 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies, organizations with greater ethnic and racial diversity have a 35% higher chance to record financial returns more elevated than the industry mean. In the follow-up reports released in 2018 and 2020, which analyzed broader data sets, we see continued support for diversity and inclusion as beneficial to business. Currently, McKinsey’s reports maintain that “the most diverse companies are now more likely to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.”

For example, instead of asking: 

“What skills are needed in this position that is similar to others in the same position?” culture-add encourages recruiters to ask, “What skills are we currently missing from the team that would be great to have?”

Again, instead of asking, “How well does this individual fit in our culture?” culture-add focuses on what the individual brings to the company’s culture that is new and interesting?

Culture Fit May Increase Employee Churn

Another downside of promoting culture fit is the high probability of existing employees leaving the company. Besides the fact that most employees now prefer a more dynamic, flexible work environment, more employees are willing to quit and move to organizations that offer opportunities for growth, where they can express their creativity. Additionally, the increased preference for remote and hybrid work structures makes it harder for companies to attract and retain great talents. 

Promoting a homogenous workplace culture may put an organization in a negative light on job seekers. And that, of course, may not be the intended message in most cases. The bottom line is that culture fit will likely get in the way of growth, especially if a company is looking to hire rockstars to become part of its journey. 

The Importance of Consistent Messaging

When a company actively promotes its workplace culture (employer branding), it must ensure a consistent tone of voice. Like the more general corporate branding, the messages the company shares through any of the earlier mentioned online channels should reflect its internal culture and work environment. 

“This means, for example, that if the working culture is informal, web copy should have a loose feel,” says Ingham. The job adverts must also be clear, descriptive, and inclusive enough to encourage as many applicants as possible. Ingram also adds that it is good to supplement the job adverts with additional information on company culture and perks. As stated earlier, authenticity is equally vital in the entire process because if the picture the company paints of itself isn’t true to its brand, the efforts will backfire.