Is cultural fit a real thing?

Whether you are a company or a job seeker, cultural fit is something that will always come up in a recruitment process. But how does compatibility really work?

workplace cultural change
Photo by Jakob Braun / Unsplash

The pandemic changed the way people perceive work, and how it significantly influences their lives, well-being, and individual satisfaction. In the United States, this change resulted in an increased volume of layoffs in the last 2 years, compared to previous years. The phenomenon is known as "The Great Resignation" or "The Big Quit". In Europe, several studies show an increase in the intention to change jobs in the next 6 to 12 months.

Company's culture is one of the main reasons that lead people to leave their jobs. There is a disparity between what people expect from their organisations and what organisations really are. Culture and colleagues are a priority in choosing a new job for 40% of professionals. The values and ethics of a company are fundamental for motivation for 41% of professionals. Focusing on organisational culture is a solution for companies that are struggling to retain their employees and attract and recruit new talent.

Individuals are attracted by companies that are similar to their values and interests. This fact has long been studied in organizational psychology through the ASA (attraction-selection-attrition) model. Moreover, organisations seek to select candidates who are more like themselves to ensure their retention.

The Person-Organisation fit (PO fit) evaluates the compatibility of values between an individual and an organisation. A lot of research has been done in psychology to study this effect. It measures the congruence between the beliefs that sustain the attitudes and behaviours of a person, and the values and norms of conduct of a company that defines its organisational culture. Scientific studies show the positive effects of this compatibility at work, such as productivity, retention, intention to quit, engagement and motivation. Conversely, the lack of compatibility creates dissatisfaction and non-engaged professionals, leading to increased business turnover.

How does compatibility work?

If a person values innovation, they will strive to innovate, and if the organisation values innovation, it will create the necessary conditions for innovation. This symbiosis results in positive effects like motivaton and productivity. However, if innovation is not an attribute of the organisation, the person will not be encouraged to innovate and being something that goes against their values it leads to dissatisfaction.

Therefore, the candidate’s search for a company that is compatible with their values is crucial, because the greater the compatibility, the more the emotional connection and engagement to a company.

the greater the compatibility, the more the emotional connection and engagement with a company

The consequences of the pandemic on workers and organisations, combined with extensive research in psychology, proves that cultural fit exists and is key for recruitment, as it has benefits both for the candidate and the businesses. Organisations must adopt strategies in their hiring processes to ensure a Person-Organisation fit.

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