Building a culture of engagement

Your employees are the living embodiment of your organisation. They’re so much more than just people hired to show up and complete tasks.

Employees influence the atmosphere, language, and working experience at your organisation. They form collaborative relationships and impact the work environment of those who work with them. Engaged employees have a stronger influence on your company’s culture, so it’s important to hire candidates that add to it.

Learn how Criteria can help you cultivate a positive work culture by hiring great candidates.


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Culture fit and culture add

There are two different dynamics at play when you’re hiring someone new: their culture fit and their culture add.

The core element of culture fit boils down to values: Does a candidate’s personal ethos align with your company’s values? If so, you’ve found someone with a strong culture fit.

Culture add looks at what a potential new employee could bring to the table. Will they add new perspective and insight, helping to diversify your organisation? If that’s the case, you’ve identified someone with a positive culture add.

As attitudes around work shift to become increasingly focused on social responsibility, employees no longer feel comfortable compromising their personal values in a professional setting. The reverse is also true: organisations need to ensure their values are supported by the employees they hire. Because of this, alignment between a candidate’s personal values and your brand’s is necessary to succeed.

Culture fit also strongly impacts how well teams work together, informing communication styles, organisational formality, and the social landscape of your organisation. Everyone has an ideal working environment they thrive in, so you need to ensure the people you hire are likely to thrive in yours.

By hiring candidates who offer both a strong culture fit and culture add, you are building a workforce of engaged, productive, and satisfied employees.


Prioritise value alignment during recruitment

By prioritising culture match in your recruitment, you’ll do more than just keep your workplace comfortable and positive – you’ll have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Good culture fit breeds productivity. Employees who gel well with your company culture are more engaged and productive than those who don’t. Aligned employees are also likely to stay with your organisation longer – research has shown that 89% of hiring failures are caused by cultural misalignment, according to Forbes.

Employees won’t stick around if they don’t feel they fit with your organisation. Value alignment is linked with higher levels of organisational commitment, job satisfaction, tenure, and job performance.

In general, your staff will perform better when they work well as a team. Employees on engaged teams are more passionate about their role, better equipped to meet customer needs, and a better advocate of your employer brand.


Identifying your culture

In order to find candidates who align with your organisational culture, you need to identify its core tenets. The first step is to define your own values, communication style, and management style.

Your official company values are a good place to start, but they’re often more aspirational than a true representation of your culture. Make sure you’re faithfully choosing values that reflect the day-to-day experience in your workplace. Look at how your employees talk to and treat each other. Are your meetings formal or informal? Is the environment diverse and inclusive? Do your staff usually work on things collaboratively or individually?

And keep in mind that culture may vary from department to department. The core values should apply to your whole organisation, but the practical methods of completing work may be different for example on the finance team than for the marketing team.

One way to better understand your organisation’s culture is by getting feedback from those who live in it. Send out a company-wide poll and ask your workforce questions about how they define the culture of your organisation. You’ll learn a lot and can use this information to determine which candidates would mesh best with your company.


Recognizing culturally aligned candidates

Once you have a solid read on your organisational culture, you can use it strategically in your recruitment process.


Ask the right questions

Weave questions related to your culture into your interview by asking candidates to give examples that show they’ve displayed your values in their previous employment. Be specific and listen carefully to their responses.


Communicate your culture

These days, candidates prefer workplaces with which they align to maximise their job satisfaction. Company culture is a two-way street, after all. Organisations with an aligned workforce are more likely to succeed, and candidates who enjoy your culture are more likely to perform well.

Highlight your employer brand on your website, social media channels, and job ads. These are the first places candidates look to learn about your organisation. If candidates don’t feel connected to your organisation’s values and mission, they will be less likely to apply in the first place. Conversely, candidates who feel that your values resonate with their own are more likely to submit their application. This leaves you with a hiring pool of more suitable candidates, saving you time and increasing your chances of hiring a good fit.


Assess their values objectively

Sometimes identifying values in an interview is tricky. Relying on your gut to get a feel of a candidate’s values can introduce hiring bias and make things less accurate. Instead, make sure you’re evaluating their culture match objectively. Criteria’s tried-and-true pre-hire assessments help you find candidates who will flourish in your organisation.

The Workplace Alignment Assessment (WAA) asks candidates to create their ideal workplace using a standardised set of 20 workplace preferences, ranking them in order of importance. The assessment then compares their responses against your organisational profile.

For example, a federal regulatory authority was looking to increase their employee productivity. They found that high compatibility on the WAA directly correlated to high performance, longer tenure, and higher likelihood for promotion. You can read the full case study here.

Similarly, the Employee Personality Profile (EPP) evaluates a candidate’s personality and workplace preferences against traits known to predict success in a specific role. After using EPP, Macfab Manufacturing Inc. found a tangible improvement in their workplace culture, resulting in a 65% increase in retention rates and a 90% success rate for all new hires. Learn more about their results in the case study here.


Hiring the best person for the job means looking at more than just the skills listed on their resume. By understanding their values, personality, and communication styles you can find candidates that are not only good at their job, but the perfect fit for your organisation.

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