Cultivating an engaged workforce

Your employees are so much more than just people you hired to show up and work – they’re the living expression of your organization.

The people you hire drive culture: they make an impact on your organization’s work environment, tone, and atmosphere. By collaborating and building strong work relationships, your employees affect those around them. More engaged employees wield stronger influence over your organization’s culture. When you’re hiring, make sure to choose candidates who will have a positive effect on your work environment.


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Comparing culture fit versus culture add

When you’re hiring someone new, there are two different ways to view their cultural impact on your organization: culture fit and culture add.

Culture fit is tied to values. Do your company’s values resonate with the applicant’s personal beliefs? If that’s the case, they’ve got strong culture fit.

Culture add represents the potential contributions a candidate would make to your organization if they were hired. If a candidate will bring fresh perspective, ideas, and energy, then you’ve found someone with a positive culture add.

These days, the person is directly tied to the professional: people want to feel like their work has meaning and makes a difference. As a result, many employees are no longer okay with setting aside their personal values at work. On the flip side, it’s important that your company’s values are supported by the people you hire. That’s why alignment between both your brand’s and your candidates’ values is mission critical.

Since everyone has a work environment that they perform best in, it’s important that you hire candidates who will thrive in yours. Good culture fit improves team dynamics by increasing collaboration and communication – it has a direct impact on the social landscape of your organization.

By selecting candidates with both strong culture fit and positive culture add, you ensure that your workforce will be more engaged, more productive, and more satisfied with your company.


Prioritize value alignment during recruitment

When you put an emphasis on culture match during your recruitment process, you’re simultaneously making a positive impact on your work environment and your bottom line.

Employees with a strong culture fit have higher productivity. Those who feel more connected to your company culture are more engaged and more productive compared to disengaged workers. These culturally aligned employees are also less likely to leave your organization. Forbes reported that a staggering 89% of hiring failures are rooted in cultural misalignment.

And that makes sense. Workers aren’t going to stay when they don’t feel connected to your company. When company and personal values do align, it’s positively correlated to job satisfaction, commitment, job performance, and employee tenure.

At the end of the day, your employees work best when they are part of a supportive team. People who are part of an engaged team are more excited about their job, better able to meet the needs of your clients, and are better advocates for your employer brand.


Defining your culture

If you want to hire people who tightly align with your company culture you need to be able to articulate it. Step one is to distill your culture down to its essence. What are your company’s core values, communication style, and organizational hierarchy?

Checking out your organization’s official values is a solid starting point, but keep in mind that they are often more aspirational than an accurate representation of your workplace culture. Choose values that faithfully reflect what it’s like to work for your company. Evaluate how people interact with one another at work. Do meetings follow a strict agenda, or are they more freeform? Is your work environment diverse? Is it inclusive of those from these diverse backgrounds? Do people prefer to work together or alone?

It's likely that each department has their own microculture as well. When defining the values of your business, make sure they apply to your organization as a whole, even though they may look different from one business sector to another. After all, your product team is unlikely to operate identically to your sales department.

If you want to truly understand your company culture, get feedback straight from those who experience it every day. Consider sending out a company-wide survey to see how your staff defines your workplace culture. You’ll gain valuable insight about your organization that you can leverage when you’re trying to see which candidates will thrive in your work environment.


Making culturally aligned hires

Once you have a solid read on your organizational culture, you can use it strategically during your hiring process.


Ask good questions

Include questions that will help you determine which candidates best embody the values of your organization. Ask for specific examples of when they last exhibited these traits, and listen carefully to how they respond. You can also ask candidates about their ideal workplace and the values it would prioritize.


Share your culture

It’s no secret that today’s candidates want to work for organizations that they feel aligned with. After all, it’s a symbiotic relationship: companies benefit when their workforce is aligned because they’re more likely to succeed, and employees who feel supported and comfortable at work are more likely to exhibit high performance.

To attract candidates who resonate with your company’s culture, you need to feature your employer brand at every opportunity. This means talking about your culture on your website, your social media, and in your job postings. By sharing your values upfront, candidates who don’t see themselves reflected in your values are less likely to apply to your openings. Even more critically, candidates who do feel connected to your company’s mission and brand are more likely to apply. The end result? A pool of stronger and more aligned applicants from the start, which increases your chances of hiring a strong fit for your company.


Assess candidate values objectively

Even well-structured interviews can struggle to get an accurate picture of a candidate’s values. Don’t just rely on your gut instinct to determine if a candidate is a good fit. That can introduce unintentional hiring bias. Instead, evaluate a candidate’s culture match with objective methods. Criteria’s suite of tried-and-true pre-employment assessments are designed to help you figure out which candidates will thrive at your company.

The Workplace Alignment Assessment (WAA) has candidates rank a standardized set of 20 common workplace preferences in order of importance. Then, their results get compared to your own organizational profile and provides a match score.

And it works well in practice: a federal regulatory authority wanted to increase employee productivity. They started using the WAA and found that high compatibility scores were directly correlated to higher performance, better likelihood of promotion, and longer tenure. Check out the full case study here.

Another great assessment to consider is the Employee Personality Profile (EPP). The EPP assesses candidate personality and then compares their results with the traits tied to success for the specific role you’re hiring for. When Macfab Manufacturing added the EPP to their hiring process, they saw a noticeable improvement in their workplace culture. This lead to a 65% increase in retention rates and a 90% success rate for all new hires. To learn more about their results, read the full case study here.


If you want to hire the best person for the job, you’ll need to look at more than just their resume. You have to appreciate each candidate on a personal level. When you understand a candidate’s values, personality, and ideal workplace, you’ll be able to hire people that are not only great at their job, but a perfect match for your business.

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