Culture fit is at the centre of the job market right now, and it’s likely to stay there for awhile. After all, millennials want it, and we all know they run the show.
Plus, AI is making it easier than ever to add a layer of culture fit vetting to the hiring process. This means it’s imperative to understand both the benefits and the drawbacks of this practice.
Prioritizing culture can result in:
Employees who are genuinely stoked on their work environment
When you prioritize a fun work environment and allow your employees to have the occasional drink or shoot the occasional basketball, they’re likely to be more relaxed which is great for productivity. It also implies a level of trust that can often have positive effects in the workplace, and they’ll likely brag about their perks to their friends, making them pretty valuable brand ambassadors.
But, too much of a good thing can lead to….
The dissolution of work life balance
Milennials want to say farewell to the 9 to 5. Fair. Technology has granted us more flexibility in where, when and how we work. But when a workplace provides you with everything you could ever want with no incentive to leave, lines get blurred in a problematic way. Companies like Google have long been criticized for their nap pods and music rooms that keep people well past acceptable working hours. Plus, it becomes easier for employees to justify extra hours if they’re being given beer and food. But this justification can give way to resentment rather quickly if clear boundaries are not established.
Hiring for culture fit can result in:
When you hire a team of like-minded people, chances are everyone will be pretty comfortable with each other. And sometimes being comfortable with your coworkers makes it easier to collaborate and brainstorm. Plus, genuinely wanting to hang out with people after work hours is great for a lot of reasons. After all, the best ideas can be generated over pints when the pressure is off.
But, too much synergy can turn into…
The potential to dilute discourse
While it’s true that getting along can make it easier to collaborate and brainstorm, sometimes you don’t want brainstorming to be easy. Sometimes you need to have people who are willing and able to challenge your ideas. Culture fit has been condemned as a way to establish “ideological fiefdoms”, robbing workplaces of the friction and disagreement that’s often necessary for true innovation. Buying into a shared vision is important, but it’s also important to encourage discourse, even disagreement, in the workplace, because if everyone is too “aligned” there’s no one to poke holes in your idea until it’s too late.
Establishing workplace culture and the practice of hiring for “culture fit” can definitely have positive effects on productivity and job satisfaction. But setting clear boundaries, checking in with biases, and opening the door for discourse are key to establishing a strong and satisfied team.