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Cultural fitness is as important as education, especially for a leadership candidate.

A healthcare organisation that had employee welfare and consensus-based decision making as its core values hired a new unit head with a proven financial track record. In due course, it was noted that the unit head’s dictatorial leadership style, emphasising command and micromanagement, lead to significant attrition. Employee disengagement led to poor customer satisfaction scores that reflected on the bottom line.

An e-commerce company looking to boost growth hired a manager who had an impeccable resume. A few months down the line, the senior leadership noticed that substandard products were being sold through the portal. Background verification investigations revealed that the manager had been suspended in a previous company.

Why culture fit matters

Culture fit is an important aspect that needs careful consideration in the pre-employment screening and hiring process. The right candidate should have values, ethics, attitude, leadership styles and goals that are well-aligned with that of the company’s. This alignment is what leads to a host of benefits including improved productivity, enhanced engagement and the boost in morale.

‘Astronomical’ is the expression used by some companies to describe the loss due to a bad hire who is not culturally aligned. Some experts believe the losses can run into quarter or half a million dollars. If the replacement of the bad hire also is not aligned with the company culture, the additional loss in terms of company morale and the bottom line is immeasurable. A single wrong hire can cost as much as Rs. 20 lakhs to the company with the following also being felt:

    Disruption in day-to-day work due to malpractices or investigations
    Poor employee engagement
    Low team morale
    Lost customers
    Weakened brand image
    Litigation fees

Ways to ensure the employee is culturally fit

Personality tests: Standardised tests can reveal the candidate’s personality which in turn helps the hiring managers understand if he or she is the right fit. For instance, a candidate who is an introvert may not fit into a role that requires constant customer interaction. Obtaining the consent of the candidate and avoiding bias in hiring is important for conducting personality tests.

Write a comprehensive job description: Most job descriptions mention the technical or academic skills needed while omitting details on the company culture. Provide a synopsis of the organisational culture to draw in the right candidates.

Ensure background verification: Background screening is a must to ensure the new hire is culturally fit. A comprehensive background verification conducted by professional background verification services providers can help check the following aspects:

Criminal history: Professional background verification service providers can access national and international databases maintained by various district, regional, state level and Federal courts. Litigations, convictions and criminal charges, if any, can come to light in the pre-employment screening process. While a negative finding can be further investigated, HR teams can make better hiring decisions in light of the findings.

ID checks: The national database can be used to verify various government-issued documents to validate the candidate’s identity.

Address check: Verifying the residential address is important to ensure the candidate is traceable in case of complaints, investigations or other deviations from accepted conduct. Field executives from the background verification teams can verify the address on site while other online repositories and digital logs can provide additional information on the address.

Substance abuse test: Extensive background verification can also reveal the candidate’s substance abuse history if any. Various standard drug panel tests are conducted to check if any of the common drugs have been abused.

Employment screening and reference checks: Hiring a candidate who fits the company culture also involves delving into his or her past employment history. Professional background verification providers check not only the references provided by the candidate but additional ones in the form of neighbours, colleagues and immediate superiors to get more insights.