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How TransLogic Cultivates a Great Company Culture
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Jillian Chambers | 18 January, 2024

Swisslog Healthcare’s Jillian Chambers on Hiring for Culture Add vs Culture Fit

As a longtime recruiter and former manager, I make an effort to stay current on the latest news and trends regarding talent acquisition and team building. Recently, while browsing a leading HR website, I came across an article titled Don't Hire for Culture Fit.

The headline caught my attention due to its surprising and somewhat unconventional nature. After all, many people believe that one of the primary factors they should be hiring for is ‘culture fit.’ In my experience, rarely in the interview process does someone fail to ask, “Will this person be a good fit with the team?” or “Do they fit in with our company culture?” In fact, research suggests that 84% of recruiters look for ‘culture fit’ during their selection process.


Here's the problem: hiring for ‘culture fit’ can be synonymous with hiring for sameness. And the way for a business to grow is not by hiring people who look, sound, and think the same as the people who already work there. That’s the opposite of innovative. Rather, innovation occurs when there is room for outside-the-box thinkers. Innovation occurs when you bring together different people with different ideas and different ways of approaching a problem. When you bring all of those diverse perspectives together to brainstorm and collaborate, that’s when the magic happens.


To be fair, I think that when many of us talk about wanting to hire someone who is a “good fit” with the team, often what we are really thinking about is the importance of interpersonal relationships in the workplace. After all, we spend at least 40 hours per week with our coworkers, so it makes sense to want to ensure that our team members will enjoy working with each other.


If you are fortunate enough to have a team full of people who are all pleasant, personable and enjoy working together, you don’t want to jeopardize that by hiring someone who might cause tension, unpleasantness, or harm the team morale through negative behaviors. By all means, we should hire individuals with good interpersonal skills – but that’s not quite what we’re talking about here. Hiring people who will work well together does not mean hiring people who are all the same.


So what does this article suggest as an alternative? Looking for cultural add might be more valuable than cultural fit when choosing the right candidate. “Rather than focusing on culture fit, organization leaders must concentrate on culture add to be inclusive. A plethora of research shows that harnessing the power of diverse teams leads to better outcomes, such as less groupthink, more innovative solutions, and overall more profitability.”

hospital staff loading carrier

So what is cultural add, exactly? Simply put, culture adds are hires who contribute a diverse set of thoughts, values, traits and backgrounds. Intrigued by this idea, I dove a little deeper and found a wealth of other information on the topic. Sources from LinkedIn, to Indeed, to Gallup, to Harvard Business Review have explored the value of culture add and its potential impact on growth and innovation.

Big names such as Amazon, Facebook and Pandora have been leaning into the shift as well. Recruiting giant Indeed has summed up the concept in a very simple way:

“Cultural add is a much more meaningful and beneficial hiring consideration than cultural fit. It means that the candidate you’re considering will bring new, fresh and different ideas and experiences to their team. They’re more likely to add something the team doesn’t have.”

Bringing on an individual with unique qualities and perspectives means that your team is gaining something new, something they didn’t have before.

In contrast, warns Forbes.com, too much homogeneity and conformity in the workforce can create blind spots (where knowledge is lacking in certain areas) as well as groupthink (which is the enemy of creativity and innovation).


Research overwhelmingly shows that diversity in the workforce brings a whole host of benefits for the bottom line. Diverse companies are 33% more likely to experience industry-leading profitability, whereas companies with homogenous leadership are more likely to underperform than their more diverse counterparts.


A 2015 McKinsey report found that companies with diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. Other studies have shown that more homogenous groups tend to make more errors - which makes sense, because if everyone on a team is similar and thinks the same way, they are more likely to make the same mistakes (and less likely to notice when they do). And from a talent attraction and retention perspective: according to Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers say it is “very” or “extremely” important to work at a company that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. Not to mention that companies with a diverse staff are better positioned to connect with, and meet the needs of, increasingly diverse customer bases.

 

Forbes sums it up in this way: “You want your people to be united by your company’s shared mission, but cognitive diversity, different political beliefs and varying backgrounds push your team to actually achieve it -- tackling problems in new ways, thinking outside the box and ultimately bringing your culture to life.” Now that sounds like a company with the power to transform the future of healthcare.