3 Simple Steps to Hiring for Culture Add

Two young coworkers talking at a table

Gone are the days of defining roles and hiring people just based on their skill sets. Great organizations think beyond the job description to the value that employee will bring to the table beyond just their resume and list of previous achievements. In order to improve where most organizations are focused (think retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges, and culture) — talent leaders must consider values that will enhance their company culture. 

In this article we’ll help you with how to screen for those candidates. The kind of talent that will help your organization’s culture evolve, so that it’s still relevant to today’s candidates. In fact, McKinsey & Co. research found there’s a 3X return to shareholders with top quartile healthy cultures and an 18% increase in EBITDA after one year of active work on organizational health.

Using culture as a meaningful part of your hiring strategy can make a big difference to your organization’s bottom line. And it doesn’t have to be hard. Here are three steps that can help from Markellos Diorinos, CEO of Bryq, and his presentation at Lever’s annual event Ascend.

Step 1: Build a Defined Company Culture

In a good culture, employees don’t have to work against the company — they are aligned with the culture and work in tandem with it. In a “bad” culture, employees feel the need to right the culture every time they encounter changes in it.

Of course, what good and bad looks like is relative. Take Netflix and Amazon. Both companies are about the same age, but Netflix has a culture that thrives in encouraging the sharing of info and autonomy — all while avoiding rules. And their policies, like unlimited PTO, are an extension of their culture). Amazon has a clear culture, too, but it’s very different to Netflix’s. For instance, one NY Times article describes it as a place where workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings. Each one fulfills its company’s purpose in presenting new ideas to the table to evolve, so a “bad” culture is all relative here.

Top quartile cultures post a return to shareholders 200% percent higher than those in the bottom quartile (McKinsey)

So where is the best place to start? First is to define the values that your company can align on and hold true to over time. Examples might include:

  • Personal growth
  • Evidence-based
  • Individual responsibility
  • Evolution and adaptability
  • Bias to action
  • Phenomenal service
  • Be unstoppable
  • Dare to simplify
  • Team spirit
  • Uniqueness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ambition
  • Play as a Team
  • Think Big
  • Frugality

Define your culture and then document it for everyone to understand where your culture is right now and where it can grow to next. That way, hiring managers, recruiters, and referrers can understand what kind of hires will add to as you grow.

Step 2: Measure Your Company Culture

How do you measure culture? The most commonly used tactic is employee surveys. You ask questions to measure employee sentiment around culture, teamwork, roles, and other related items that help you understand how people feel about their workplace culture. Pulse checks, as well as focus groups and culture assessments, are also effective when deep-diving into culture.

These tactics help you measure what’s being valued, but they don’t measure what people believe. How employees feel about your culture and what they believe about your culture are two significantly different things. Both have to be measured.

46% of job seekers said culture was one of the deciding factors in the application process (TeamStage)

Evidence-based measuring helps the Bryq team: 

  • Support how people feel and what they believe about the company’s culture from a granular level.
  • Understand how and why people make decisions.
  • Know the reasons they trust the company’s culture.
  • Make informed decisions that are backed by beliefs and rationale.

Bryq also seeks to measure how their culture is performing versus others — this helps create a culture of like-minded people as opposed to a hive-mind or a group of people who simply exist in a mono-culture.

Step 3: Improve Your Culture with New and Different Talent

It’s not enough to keep attracting talent like the talent you already have. To prevent hive-mind from happening, Bryq looks at whether a candidate can actually do the role and succeed in it first, then factors in culture-add (not culture fit). 

Recruiters and hiring managers also focus on how the candidate will contribute to the team first, then to the company. By hiring for culture fit, you are trying to build a great team that might work well together. By hiring for culture add, you are trying to build a great team that is more than just the sum of their parts. Culture add allows companies to create more meaningful teams that will progress culture in a way that culture fit doesn’t necessarily allow.

It’s important to remember that measuring culture add is meant to help hiring teams better understand a candidate, not to assess them on fit for a role. And it doesn’t measure whether a candidate fits a mold a company is unwilling to evolve. 

At the end of the day, hiring shouldn’t be defined as much as it should be left open-ended to assess who is going to take each team to new heights.

Final Thoughts: Hiring the Elusive Culture Add for Your Company

The best place to start is your values. What does your company hold near and dear that all people can relate and contribute to? Remember that behaviors can change, but values won’t. If an employee doesn’t share similar beliefs and values, how is it going to work?

Secondly, how will you measure these values and their impact on the company over time? Is it resonating and is each individual on board? It’s only with alignment and constant assessment that will ensure your culture isn’t stagnant over time. 

And last but not least, hire people that don’t fill a role or check a box, but add to your values at the team level. Ask yourself, are they going to evolve our company and contribute to this team? It’s only then that the overall company can gain in terms of culture.

Learn more about how Bryq and Lever can help you hire people who can help enhance your company culture here. Additionally, click here to gain access to Bryq’s latest eBook: ‘Bryq’s Big Culture Book’ to read more about how culture add affects your company.