One-third of applicants would decline the perfect job over poor culture fit


Dive Brief:
One-third of job seekers in a recent survey said they’d pass up the perfect job if the corporate culture was a bad fit. This means that creating a positive culture must be a top priority for employers that want to attract and retain talent, according to Robert Half (RH), which conducted the study.
The report also says that, in the survey, 91% of U.S. managers and 90% of Canadian managers said culture fit is more important than experience or skills. And although most North American workers said the ideal culture is team-oriented or supportive, most described their workplaces as traditional.
“In today’s competitive hiring environment, employers risk missing out on strong candidates if they don’t promote what makes their organizational culture unique,” said RH’s senior executive director Paul McDonald in a statement. “This research reinforces the notion that finding the right fit involves more than evaluating someone’s qualifications and experience. There has to be a focus on what motivates that individual and the type of work environment in which they will thrive.”

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Dive Insight:
A great culture can help an organization build and sustain its brand and boost its revenues, experts say. Culture was long thought to be the emotional stuff that made people happy, Barbara Porter, chief customer experience officer for Senn Delaney, a culture-shaping firm, previously told HR Dive. Instead, a healthy work culture creates an environment in which workers can succeed and impact business results, she said.

A healthy corporate culture, one in which workers are engaged, is especially critical today because of skills shortages, rapidly advancing technology, global competition and increasing customer demands. Turnover is at an all-time high, a recent report showed, so employers that don’t focus on building a healthy culture may bear the brunt of turnover costs.

Some warn, however, that the term “culture fit” can be a dog whistle for bias. For some recruiters and hiring managers, the term is sometimes used as a subjective reason to exclude a candidate. To avoid this, HR can push hiring managers to focus on qualifications and give concrete reasons for passing on an applicant. The term “culture fit” should be limited to the likelihood that a particular candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the internal values and ideological structure of the organization, Debra Ellwood Meppen, partner at Gordon & Rees, previously told HR Dive.


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