Navigating Benefits

What to Do When a New Hire Doesn’t Fit Your Company Culture

  • Around half of all companies use assessment tests to determine if a candidate will be a good culture fit
  • Though artificial intelligence is improving these tests, critics suggest culture fit may just be a way to weed out introverts or candidates who are different
  • Help a new hire who's struggling with culture fit by connecting them with colleagues and assessing if it's the culture that needs adjustment
Posted by September 20, 2019

You hired an impressive employee and were ready to be wowed by their talents. But it turns out they’re having trouble adapting to the company culture. Now what?

About 51% of employers use workplace assessment tests to determine candidate culture fit. A candidate who’s taken the Myers-Briggs test for a job interview or answered some odd question, like what kind of bug they’d like to be, knows their personality is being evaluated.

But are these tests effective at categorizing personality traits and soft skills that affect culture fit? And what can you do if a new hire passed these evaluations with flying colors but still struggles to fit in once they arrive?

The Limits of Culture Fit Technology

Newer tests, brain games and mobile accessibility are changing how employers evaluate a candidate’s culture fit. They also use artificial intelligence.

HireVue, a talent assessment provider, uses AI to extract data from a candidate’s interview video. Everything from their word choices to facial expressions and mannerisms can indicate if the candidate is, say, risk-averse or customer-service-minded. AI algorithms also help determine the likelihood that a candidate will fit in based on similar previous candidates.

But since AI is more geared toward quantitative assessment than qualitative, and can learn and adopt human biases already present in your recruiting process, using this technology to assess your company’s culture fit isn’t foolproof.

That’s why interviews are so crucial in hiring. Don’t just ask them which bug they best identify with; ask about work cultures they’ve experienced and what their ideal workplace looks like. Discuss dress code, the company’s values and how good work is rewarded. Paint a picture of your company’s “personality” and see if the applicant fits within that framework.

Helping New Employees Adjust

Even with thorough candidate vetting and hiring processes, a lot of people can misrepresent themselves in interviews and application tests—for better or worse. Here’s what you can do when a new hire isn’t quite meshing with your company culture:

Facilitate colleague connections. Forming relationships with colleagues can help a new hire feel more like part of the team and keep loneliness at bay. Arrange after-hours events, team projects, collaborations and mentorship programs to ease any transition and promote work friendships.

Encourage them to participate in or start a culture club. There may be multiple employees at your office who feel like misfits. Why not unite them? Gather the rogues, contrarians and freethinkers to discuss how to align what they’re passionate about with the company’s goals. The group can also brainstorm how to make the company culture more dynamic—adding to and shaping it, rather than just assimilating.

Allow for an adjustment period. Maybe the culture is competitive where a new employee would prefer it to be supportive, or it’s hard-charging and fast-paced, and they’re used to laid-back. This doesn’t mean someone can’t thrive within a different culture. A competitive coworker could inspire a new hire’s best efforts. Likewise, a hard-charging environment could encourage employees to trust themselves more. It just may take them more time to adjust. Employers should freely ask their employees about their adjustment period and how they can assist. And remember: It may take up to a year for an employee to fully integrate.

Empower them to speak to their manager or HR about any culture concerns. The very idea of hiring for culture fit is not without its critics. Some suggest it’s a way to reject candidates, either at the interview stage or later, for things like not being an extrovert or inability to seamlessly fit in when, perhaps, it’s the company or management who should adjust. Plus, an employee can’t just acquire certain personality traits the way they can develop competencies or leadership skills. Talking to HR or management openly about the issue may prompt a shift in the corporate culture.

No employer can orchestrate all the factors that help a company’s culture and employees flourish; all they can do is provide and encourage the most favorable conditions. Cutting-edge personality tests have their place, but it’s a better bet to focus on hiring qualified people who demonstrate evidence of essential soft skills and seem enthusiastic about the job—and then let them surprise you. After all, they might influence the culture for the better if given the opportunity.

For more hiring best practices, visit United Concordia Dental’s Benefits Bridge.

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