From the July, 2010 Issue of CareerBulletin
In a competitive job market where candidates tout more credentials and technical skills than ever, fit is increasingly becoming the differentiator.
What is organizational fit? It means that above and beyond being “qualified” for the job, the employee’s goals, values and preferences are aligned with those of the organization. It means there is working chemistry between the employee and his or her team, and that coming to work every day is a pleasure and not a drag.
Here are a few things employers can do to ensure they are attracting, hiring and retaining the right people for their organizational culture.
1. Be yourself – Offer an authentic value proposition
For me, hearing the phrase “employer-of-choice” conjures images of small, lofty offices with Shih-Tzu’s sleeping under desks and champagne in the fridge for Friday afternoons. For some, the perfect work culture is a large, sprawling corporate building with modern architecture, glass elevators, squash courts and its own Starbucks. Others prefer to keep a well-defined line between work and play, leaving the dogs and squash rackets at home in favour of a shorter work day with flexible hours.
The point is – everyone has a different impression of what the “perfect” workplace culture entails. You can’t please everyone.
Unfortunately, some employers market themselves – either through their job descriptions or broader marketing – as what they think will attract the best talent, conveying a false perception of what it’s like to work there.
The result? Major retention problems. It’s simple really – you’ve attracted someone who was expecting A, and they came to work to find B. They’re disappointed and put off from day one and before you know it, they’re back on the market looking for what they truly wanted.
Thus, the natural question in this discussion would be what are the best recruitment practices that can attract suitable talent to an organization? The most ardent brand ambassadors of an organization are its employees. Therefore, an effective recruitment strategy will showcase these brand ambassadors to prospective employees. Examples of this strategy can be displaying videos of employees describing their job experiences on the company website, using quotes from employees in job advertisements etc. This approach will project an honest image of the organization and its culture resulting in attracting employees that are the “right fit” for the organization.
2. Try it on before you buy it
It’s not rocket science: If you’re looking for the perfect shoe, try it on before you buy it!
Internships and other temporary employment arrangements are fantastic, low-risk ways to ease a potential candidate into your work culture. If the fit is not perfect, there is no commitment. However in our experience, this is seldom the case and many employers go on to hire their interns.
Opt for paid opportunities over volunteer positions or unpaid internships as typically, financial compensation allows the person the time, freedom and incentive to perform to their full potential.
An unpaid intern may have to hold down other jobs to stay afloat, taking away from their commitment to your organization. Also unpaid internships exclude a very large talent pool for which unpaid work is simply not a feasible option.
This is why all Career Edge Organization internships are paid – they still remain a low-cost solution for employers while offering a broad selection of high-quality talent.
When you hire someone who has just completed an internship in your organization, you can rest assured that the new hire is familiar with your work environment and culture and knows what he or she is getting into. Clearly, this is great for retention.
3. Make it a family affair – Include staff in the recruitment process
Nothing is more detrimental to an organization than dysfunctional teams. Yes, the boss needs to have a good relationship with the employee, but so does the rest of the staff who will be working with them daily.
To find out whether or not your candidate will mesh with the others, include staff in the interview process by either forming a panel or allowing team members to meet with the candidate individually.
Not only will this allow staff to assess the candidate from a completely different perspective – the candidate will get a better picture of the organization as well. The opportunity to see beyond HR and management can reveal much about the work environment.
If the candidate gets to ask team members questions about the work environment and what they like (or don’t like) about working there, he or she will be better equipped to make the right decision, and subsequently be much more likely to stay on for the long haul.
To take this a step further – invite staff to help with the job description. Those who will be working alongside the new hire are the best resource for profiling what type of person would be best for the role, resulting in a job description that does much more than list qualifications and tasks.