How to Prevent Employee-Employer Cultural Mismatch

Employee-employer cultural mismatch can be a problem, but taking these steps reduces the chances of it happening.

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Use these methods to select candidates that are a great add to your company culture.

Here's what you need to know:

  • One of the most common reasons for bad hires is a cultural mismatch
  • Create a great Careers page with accurate job descriptions and salaries
  • If you find an excellent candidate, don't delay in hiring them
  • Training and retaining employees is less expensive than hiring
  • Bad hires lower morale and productivity across teams
  • Foster an environment where people want to stay

If you’ve ever witnessed a company with high turnover, you might expect poor job performance to be the most obvious contributing factor. However, poor performance is not the only reason people get fired.

One of the most common reasons for bad hires is a cultural mismatch. If you’re an employer or head of a team, you need to be aware of the cultural differences among your employees. These differences can include socioeconomic backgrounds, lifestyles, and educational levels, with an equitable mix of age groups, genders, and cultures.

It’s in your best interest to understand and celebrate these differences and create a workplace culture that is welcoming and inclusive for all employees. However, if your company is not as diverse as you’d like or you want to stop the revolving door of bad hires, here are some ways you can prevent employee-employer cultural mismatch before it even starts.

It’s in your best interest to understand and celebrate these differences and create a workplace culture that is welcoming and inclusive for all employees.

Create an easy-to-find Careers page with accurate descriptions

Your Careers page should be the first step in recruitment efforts. The job descriptions listed there are the first places a potential new hire will look for a position they like. It’s also a great place to promote open roles, share content, and “sell the sizzle” as to why your mission, culture, and benefits make your company a great place to work.

A good job description includes various skills required and how the job aligns with your mission statement. Don’t forget to include salaries. No one wants to hear about how competitive your salary and benefits are. So, let your candidates know with a number that shows you value their time and will be compensate them accordingly.

Set up a blog or post a link to an article about what sets your company apart. If you don’t have a copywriter on staff, hire a freelancer to write about how great your company is, highlighting your mission statement, culture, and opportunities for advancement. Then, back it with proof from Glassdoor or Indeed. Once you’ve identified potential candidates, narrow down your choices.

Conduct a thorough interview to learn more about a candidate

When you’ve got a shortlist, figure out how the candidate will operate both functionally and culturally. Think about how ideal candidates are a culture add, versus a culture fit. For example, while not favored by all employers, you could simulate a high-stress project with tasks instead of relying on their portfolio. Just because a candidate has a sparkling resume doesn’t mean they’ll be fantastic to work with.

Depending on your company, your focus might be on skills more than personality, or vice versa.

Mix it up. Conduct informal and formal interviews and make sure all interviewers know to ask deeper, more meaningful questions. Always check references, perform tests, and schedule late-stage interviews with your entire team. Depending on your company, your focus might be on skills more than personality, or vice versa.

When filling a manager role, it’s imperative to know what you’re looking for and make an extra effort to understand their ability to lead a team. Speak with former colleagues, managers, and anyone willing to speak to their abilities. Being a great manager requires a different skill set from those not interviewing for management positions.

Finally, before you agree to hire the candidate, make sure they know the expectations of the job and its role within your company. Let them speak to future colleagues and managers. Employee onboarding will happen first, but after the honeymoon period has worn off, your new hire should have realistic expectations of their typical workday.

Find a good culture add? Don’t wait. If you find a great candidate, give them a reason to end their job hunt. Offer them excellent benefits, and don’t risk losing interest from strong candidates by delaying your decision. Don’t drag the hiring process on any longer than necessary.

Don’t forget about current employees when looking for input

You can’t prevent everything from slipping through the cracks. However, you can overcome cultural mismatch by keeping track of struggling employees. An individual effort may not be enough, so consider redefining your employee’s duties and realigning their tasks.

Additionally, stay in touch with your more seasoned employees, new hires, and those working closely with them. They might have valuable input on the cultural add of a new hire and be able to offer suggestions to find a position where they might be more effective. Prepare to make changes because it might not be a cultural mismatch but a skill misalignment.

You can overcome cultural mismatch by keeping track of struggling employees.

Finding employees who will be a valuable add to your company’s culture with skills to match their job description is ever-evolving. No one will be perfect right out of the gate, which is where employee and employer reviews could come in handy. Use them to improve morale and hone in on key performance metrics.

But don’t let employee concerns fall on deaf ears. Instead, keep your ears and eyes open when employee morale starts to sink and then get to the bottom of any possible cultural mismatches before disgruntled employees affect the rest of their team.

Avoid bad hires or retrain those with potential

Prioritize soft skills and then focus on what can be taught. Make 2 lists. Soft skills can ensure a candidate is a good add to your company and can work well within the team — if soft skills are what the role requires. The other list should identify skills that can be taught on the job. Even if a candidate doesn’t tick every box, they can learn skills on the job. Soft skills, however, should be there before the job begins.

Regularly review, define, and communicate company goals. Follow up with employees who may not be performing well to find out what’s going on. Then spend a little more on training and development for employees who need it. Training and retaining employees will be much less expensive than hiring.

Consider speaking with a former manager instead of rushing through the reference check. Ask about your candidate’s work characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement. They will know the potential candidate better than you can gauge through an interview. Just because a candidate has a sparkling resume doesn’t mean they are fantastic to work with, and former managers will be the ones who can attest to their capabilities.

Training and retaining employees will be much less expensive than hiring.

Consider hiring from a recruiting firm. Recruiting firms will often have a list of candidates that fit the required skills and performance expectations of the role you’re looking to fill. Hiring firms do much of the vetting and filtering for you. By taking advantage of the extensive networks from a specialized recruiting firm, you get your choice from a larger candidate pool. Why not check this off your to-do list and accelerate your hiring process?

What happens when employees quit due to cultural mismatch?

What does it mean when your employees quit due to that cultural mismatch? You might think that your company suffers the most when an employee leaves, but your customers ultimately lose out. One lost employee can negatively impact your company.

Your company-to-customer ratio is a delicate balance, and if that balance is disturbed, revenue potential can decrease. Some companies will choose to wait as long as possible to hire new employees when independent contractors and project-based contracts can bridge the gap.

Here are the most significant employee turnover expenses for small businesses when an employee quits:

  • Customer projects and/or services are delayed (24.5%)
  • Productivity goes down (21.1%)
  • Finding and training a replacement takes time and money (17.2%)
  • Morale suffers (15.6%)
  • The immediate team must shoulder more responsibility (10.6%)
  • Legal and HR issues arise (9.1%)
  • Others (1.8%)
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When the wrong person is hired, everyone notices

So, now you’re convinced that employee turnover hurts your customers, but bad hires lower morale and productivity across teams too. When your employee leaves, team members will begin to question your leadership and how well you can gauge right and wrong. Doubt causes fear and fear leads employees to look for comparable positions in other places. One bad apple can inspire even your best workers to look elsewhere.

Imagine your colleague leaves and then you are left to cover their duties without extra pay or benefits. What if that work is beyond your skill set? Overburdened employees’ late nights at the office will adversely affect your business goals and your product or service will suffer.

Departing employees take what they’ve learned at your company to their next place of employment. Firing and rehiring to replace your lost employee means extra time to get new hires up to speed and acquainted with your mission, goals, and expectations of that empty role.

Listen carefully to determine a good culture add — awareness is key

Be vigilant. Stay aware of the potential signs of cultural mismatches and know which steps to take to prevent them. Reduce the risk of making a bad hire by creating job descriptions that are clear and accurate, and conducting interviews that allow for a good culture add. These steps will help you to avoid bad hires and costly employee turnover.

You might consider retention strategies or foster a culture that addresses employee needs. For example, show gratitude for jobs well done and celebrate employee success, even if that success isn’t related to the job. Putting a little more effort into retention methods could prevent a lot of headaches later.

People who feel unappreciated will eventually leave your company. Employees are an investment, not a liability so treat them as such. It’s in your best interest to train and hire well and foster an environment where people want to stay to create the lowest turnover possible.

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