Importance of culture fit in post-COVID hiring

As the way of work undergoes a change, hiring for culture fit may assume a different meaning

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Hiring has continued virtually for many organisations across sectors, with candidates settling in to working from home. With no clarity on how long it may take for the pandemic to run its course, many companies have decided to continue with remote working for the time being, due to its many advantages. In such a state, it is debatable whether hiring for culture fit will continue to be of relevance.

With the progress made in the WFH scenario over the past few months, we have witnessed some changes in the way of work. For instance, some professionals are dealing with increased workload. With the typical office conversations out of the picture, communication has become more transactional in nature, and the focus — for both employees and employers — is largely on delivery of product.

Uma Srinivasan

“Culture fit will continue to be important while hiring. However, the way we think of culture will undergo a change.”

 

If this is the situation at present, with more virtual hiring for WFH roles in the times to come, it may be suggested that hiring for culture fit may take a backseat. Priority will shift towards skill sets, experience and performance.

Anant Garg, director-HR, India and South Asia, Becton Dickinson, is of the opinion that hiring for culture fit is more significant in the current context. “Cultural fit will be even more important in a remote environment. When people collaborate in virtual teams, there will be a need for more intuitive clarity and alignment of rules of engagement and cultural principles,” says Garg.

Kamlesh Dangi

“The relevance of culture fit while hiring will be relatively less as the focus will be more on the output, which the person delivers.”

 

The culture of a company is reflected in the way people collaborate and connect. Garg adds that since the luxury of working from office no longer exists, the emphasis on culture is more in today’s era of remote work.

Moreover, for employees, it is required that one fits the role with the right beliefs, behaviours and attitude to be able to work in a remote context.

Veering in a slightly different direction, Kamlesh Dangi, group head-HR, InCred, maintains, “The relevance of culture fit while hiring will be relatively less as the focus will be more on the output, which the person delivers.”

He explains that as remote working continues, interpersonal relationships will also change from what they used to be earlier. Informal conversations, which were the lifeblood of employee cohesiveness, are few and far between now. If the current situation continues for over a year, the new joinees will not get a chance to become as familiar with their co-workers as they would have in a pre-COVID scenario. Conversations have already become purposive and short. In such a situation, leaders may be more inclined to fixate on whether the employees are able to deliver rather than their success at managing interpersonal relationships with colleagues. “Hiring for domain experts may increase. And here too, culture fit will matter less than it used to in pre-COVID times,” adds Dangi.

Anant Garg

“Cultural fit will be even more important in a remote environment. When people collaborate in virtual teams, there will be a need for more intuitive clarity and alignment of rules of engagement and cultural principles.”

Uma Srinivasan, head – talent acquisition and talent management, Larsen and Toubro, believes that there needs to be a balance when hiring for remote work. “Culture fit will continue to be important while hiring. However, the way we think of culture will undergo a change,” she asserts.

Elaborating on her statement, Srinivasan says that the factors which come into play while hiring for remote work are different from those expected from office-going candidates. The elements of culture differ from one organisation to the other. However, now there are a few new factors, which need to be considered during the hiring process. These factors will have to be given serious thought while identifying culture fit for employees who are going to be working from home, especially in large organisations.

Apart from the basic capabilities a function or role demands, being able to work with multiple stakeholders, adaptability, ability to work with limited information and resources, as well as the skill to manage the time lag in communication will be considered qualities, while hiring for remote work. “One has to understand what works in this new culture. Accordingly, the manner in which hiring for culture fit is viewed will also be slightly different,” adds Srinivasan.

One may have the best mind or be an expert in a field, nevertheless, the need to be able to collaborate effectively with other employees will remain vital.

For organisations as well, the culture within is going through a change and if the remote working situation persists, it will continue to evolve into the future. With the change in the definition and process of ‘hiring for culture fit’, companies and leaders will also need to adopt a different approach when it comes to engaging with new employees.

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