We have a culture fit problem when it comes to hiring.
Over the past decade, businesses have tried and failed to attract talent with “culture.” What we’ve learned, however, is what the business thinks employees want is not what retains them.
Marc Prine is a psychologist who consults with businesses to assess talent by using people as the main driver – a method that has resulted in hiring success for clients.
“I am a psychologist at heart and everything comes back to the people,” Prine said. “I Identify core behaviors that are important in an organization – that’s a cultural fit. Beer kegs, ping-pong tables, jeans on Fridays; that’s not culture.”
Prine has devoted his career to combining psychology and HR to benefit businesses and candidates equally. He is currently a partner at StaffGeek, a SaaS business that offers HR tech products in people analytics. What makes StaffGeek different is it has identified what makes for the best culture fit: compatibility.
By using data and psychology, StaffGeek is able to match companies with a candidate that’s the best culture fit.
“The idea isn’t new, it just has yet to be offered in an effective way for businesses to make more intelligent hiring decisions,” Prine said. “For generations, the military has employed this strategy through drafting and enlisting. Recruits have their skills assessed and are placed in the best area according to their expertise.”
Prine says the process is ideal for finding the best fit for a role, succession planning and identifying turnover problems, benefitting both companies and candidates.
“Now we have the science to know what we’re doing. “When you combine psychology and HR, everyone benefits.”
Companies must deeply understand their culture to successfully hire
You’d be surprised at how many companies have the opposite view of what their culture actually is. Part of Prine’s work is observing companies and getting to the core of employee satisfaction and high turnover rates. One particular client couldn’t understand why their sales team had a 60 percent turnover, so Prine spoke with the leadership team on what they think are the company’s key values. Leadership cited teamwork and collaboration as the top qualities, however, Prine found something different.
“I drove with their top sales people and it was the most independent job in the world.”
What Prine quickly learned was the company was hiring based on qualities that may be essential for another environment, but weren’t important for the specific roles they needed to fill.
“All the time people talk about ‘We want to bring in a hire for cultural fit,’ but what they’re really thinking is is ‘I like this person,’ and ‘Do I get along with this person,’” Prine said. “When you hire based on feel and not true culture fit, that’s how you get a lot of white guys in a room together.”
Managers often struggle with taking themselves out of the equation when it comes to evaluating their business, however, a person can’t see the whole forest when they’re surrounded by trees. That’s why there are some processes that benefit greatly from an outsider’s view. Companies have done this for years by bringing in outside agencies to help with a rebrand. Now HR is catching up.
“What we do is identify DNA of culture – distinct attributes that drive culture – and create proprietary personality assessments. Goofy posters on the wall about what they care about, but isn’t lived, does not drive performance. We use behavioral science to drive what’s important.”
Like fingerprints, each company has its own unique culture, with specific core values that may not translate over to a competitor. A person may have all the skills needed to perform the job, but if they’re not a good culture fit, everyone in the organization suffers.
Prine likes to compare it to going from a small agency to a Fortune 500 company. The skills needed to perform the work may be the same, but it’s the environment that makes the employee experience click, and companies like StaffGeek know this.
“The future of hiring is going to be better,” Prine said. “I don’t think we’re there yet but I think we’re getting there. I think it’s going to be a cleaner process, a more efficient process, and I also think it’s going to be a more humanistic process.”
Luckily, Prine is on the ground floor with StaffGeek, which is also positioning itself as a thought leader. In February, StaffGeek launched its People Analytics podcast, where experts discuss effective strategies in the people analytics field.
The answer is in the data
To help companies achieve hiring success, the StaffGeek process has two steps: gather data and interpret data.
First, StaffGeek works with the company to identify what needs to be measured. This includes core competencies, behaviors and corporate culture – the DNA that drives the company’s environment. After data is collected, it is analyzed based on how the candidate scored against the company’s DNA.
“The biggest misperception on hiring is it’s more art than science,” Prine said. “There’s a science behind it. The typical walk-me-through- your-resume interview has about a 45 percent predictability on performance. You might as well flip a coin to make a decision -which would actually be more predictable.”
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Dress code, office interiors and even jokes are considered artifacts and behaviors.
The company’s values, philosophies and rules.
Anything integrated so deeply in the company that it’s difficult to identify within.
Schein’s five career anchors – independence, security, technical-functional competence, general management competence and entrepreneurial creativity – also come into play when evaluating a candidate. And just by measuring these pillars and anchors in a company and a potential candidate, the predictability jumps beyond 45 percent.
“We create a proprietary personality assessment to measure those things and a person’s propensity to be successful in those things,” Prine said. “If reliability is number one for your organization, we measure a person’s ability and propensity to be reliable and from there are able to make recommendations that fit their culture.”
Focus the process on people and everyone wins
Employees are getting mixed messaging from their employers, and it’s not to their benefit.
“For years we’ve said people are greatest assets, and then companies make major layoffs,” Prine said.
If companies want to grow, prioritizing and understanding their employees is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Multiple studies have proven that happy employees are 13 percent more productive, and being placed in the correct culture fit contributes to that happiness.
“What’s good for the individual and good for business are the same thing,” Prine said. “People talk about the business and money and rarely talk about the people.”
It’s true. According to a Gallup study, only 13 percent of global workers are engaged at their job, and disengaged workers can cost a company. Employees that are disengaged log higher absenteeism and are less productive, which costs the United States economy around $300 billion per year.
“Job satisfaction is tied to life satisfaction,” Prine said. “When you’re not satisfied at your job, it leads to burnout, high blood pressure and a lot of other bad things.”
Companies succeed in all areas when they understand a candidate’s working style before they are sent an offer. According to Prine, some key areas hiring managers should look for are how the candidate collaborates, how they make decisions, if they are independent or team workers and the leadership style they prefer. If the company can identify its core culture and traits that make for successful employees, then the hiring process is easier.
“If you put somebody in a job and help them in their role, what happens is incredible,” Prine said. “I say this to candidates: I don’t want to recommend someone for a job if they’re not the right fit. It’s bad for the company and it’s likely they won’t be a top performer.”
For StaffGeek’s clients, the process leads to hiring consistency. Large companies that have multiple branches can hire an employee in one location and have them transferred to a different location with ease. Consistency makes it so there are no surprises during any part of the process – even if the information is pulled out later on.
“Manager A and Manager B are using the same information,” Prine said. “Someone can move across the country and go from Team A to Team B and boom, they’re still a good fit.”
While creating assessments for clients isn’t anything new, StaffGeek is doing so with key differentiators and relying heavily on data to drive results. Companies identify their core DNA, which includes culture and core behaviors that are important in a candidate. The applicant’s assessments are scored against the hiring company’s, which helps identify who is most likely to succeed in their environment.
StaffGeek collects the data beforehand and gives the client exactly what they need: a quick one-page report with four key pieces of information needed to match the candidate to the role, as well as coaching points for how to efficiently and successfully onboard new hires.
“A lot of our competitors send back this 30-page report, and it’s too dense, to the point where you’d need somebody with my background to interpret,” Prine said. “We make it easy.”
No two StaffGeek experiences are the same
Even with consistent processes, each StaffGeek hiring experience is different for everyone due to the personalization aspect. That’s what Prine loves most.
“Every organization is different,” he said. “What’s been the most fun for me is when I work with clients who are competitors with each other. You could put the top performers from one, place them in the other organization and they could fail miserably. It’s fascinating how that works.”
StaffGeek’s human-focused model makes it so the hiring process is not sterile or impersonal. Instead, it gives the candidates an opportunity to dive deep into the values that matter to them in an organization and their suitability for the position.
“The candidate experience matters, and we’re actually being more candidate centric,” Prine said about the StaffGeek process. “When you’re asked questions and the only good answer is ‘I work too hard’ or ‘My biggest weakness is I can’t turn it off at the end of the day,’ that’s not a valuable conversation.”
StaffGeek’s clients are seeing a positive change in their hiring processes. For one client, Prine connected with applicants on their backend experience. More than 95 percent of the candidates who did not get the job felt they were given a fair process to showcase their skills.
“We see teams be more successful because they make the right choices,” Prine said. “We see managers who are able to build better relationships because they know the team better.”
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