In your quest to find the best candidate for a position, the talent at hand no doubt needs to have the skills and knowledge to fulfill the requirements of the role. However, if you’re wanting to ensure the candidate’s longevity, and subsequently improve the company’s profits and productivity, you need to consider person-organization fit (P-O fit).
In this article, we’ll delve into the person organization fit theory, why you should prioritize it in the recruitment process, and how to adjust your recruitment methods to find the best person-organization match for your business.
What is person-organization fit?
The person-organization fit definition can be understood as the compatibility between an organization and a person it employs. A concept difficult to measure, person-organization fit is the congruence of a person’s value and belief system with an organization’s values, mission, and ethics. When these are largely aligned, an organization’s culture is strong as its employees live and breathe what it stands for.
You may have also heard of person-job fit. This concept is easier to measure and differs from person-organization fit as it describes the capability of a person to fulfill a job based on the necessary skills and knowledge. Person-job fit is essential in hiring new talent as it ensures a candidate is able to carry out the responsibilities of the role and perform well in the position.
However, when you’re presented with multiple candidates that make equally good person-job fits, evaluating person-organization fit is how you’ll differentiate good, suitable talent from extraordinary talent who are more likely to be committed to an organization for the long haul.
To understand the differences between the two concepts, consider this person-organization fit example:
You hire a customer service representative because they’ve worked in two similar customer service roles and extensively with software that is used in the new job they’ve been recruited for – a good person-job fit.
However, as a cutting-edge technology services company, the person’s new workplace values innovation above all and looks favorably on employees who think outside the box and contribute creative new ideas.
This new employee naturally excels in communication and IT but shies away from anything creatively focussed. As a customer service representative who spends most of their days dealing with customers’ problems, following protocol and troubleshooting, they’ve rarely had the opportunity or inclination to practice bigger picture ideation in previous customer service roles.
During weekly creative brainstorming sessions, they feel like a fish out of water, freezing up when it’s their turn to contribute. As they become aware of their shortcomings, they begin to dread these regular sessions and feel more anxious at work.
It’s only a matter of time until this employee seeks a new job with another company that won’t demand skills they don’t confidently possess.
Why person-organization fit should be a priority in hiring
We’ve already mentioned advantages and disadvantages of person-organization fit, including that considering it when recruiting talent increases staff retention.
People who work for an organization that shares similar values and goals with their own tend to feel more satisfied at work. They may find that their work is meaningful, and that many of their personal and professional needs are being met. When motivated by career progression, they’re likely to seek a new position within their existing company instead of looking elsewhere.
Other reasons person-organization fit should be a priority when hiring new talent:
- Increases employee engagement and contribution
- Produces a higher quality work output
- Contributes to an environment of positive employee relationships and effective collaboration
- Creates a strong and identifiable workplace culture
All of these outcomes of person-organization fit benefit companies as much as they do their employees.
When a company and its employees are aligned in their values, workers feel a sense of belonging, often becoming brand ambassadors who speak proudly of their workplace, helping to carve out a good company reputation. Better referrals can result from this too.
In his book, The Art of Sustainable Performance: A Model for Recruiting, Selection, and Professional Development, author Bas Kodden cites multiple researchers in the field of P-O fit, saying “that it is the fit with an organization, its culture, and style that determines sustainable performance. Organizations with a strong culture and employees that suit it have the greatest chance to survive according to the aforementioned scientists”.
Ultimately, all of the outcomes of good P-O fit across a workforce culminate to produce a highly functional business, improving company profits and productivity.
[Read more: Hiring Bias is Hurting Your Recruitment Process]
How to define person-organization fit at your company
It’s easy to define a company’s values with a few key buzzwords like ‘grit’, ‘innovation’, and ‘responsibility’ plastered on the office walls. But successful company culture is one where employees act out these values in their day-to-day working lives.
The first step in hiring for person-organization fit is being clear on what the company’s mission and values are, and more importantly, what this looks like for the role you’re recruiting for.
If innovation is a company value, and you’re recruiting for a customer service role such as the person we described above, you need to begin by defining how the successful candidate will need to demonstrate innovation in this specific role.
How to write job postings for P-O fit
To avoid hiring someone solely based on person-job fit and prioritize person-organization fit, it’s a good idea to make this clear in your first contact with potential candidates.
While you’ll include all the essential hard and soft skills in the job description, consider what attributes a candidate might need to fit in well with the organization.
The customer service representative will need the necessary verbal and written communication skills, be a good problem-solver, approachable, and able to regulate their emotions well. They will also need the technical skills to operate the technology required to carry out their role.
But to ensure good person-organization fit, include prerequisites outlining the organization’s values in the job posting.
Again, if we look at innovation, you might write that the candidate is required to contribute creative ideas to weekly meetings, have proven experience of innovating in previous roles, or have been involved in innovative customer service initiatives.
Including P-O fit in the selection process
Once you’ve made it clear through your job postings that you’re looking for someone to match the values of the organization, the next part of the process is ensuring their job application claims can be demonstrated in real life.
Consider including a values-based assessment and/or a situational-based assessment during your selection process, even before you set up the first interview. Vervoe offers these assessment tools built into one easy-to-use recruitment program so you can effortlessly compare results amongst your candidates.
With these types of assessments, you’ll be able to see how well candidates put values into action.
Inviting candidates to the online workspace
With the pandemic changing the way we work, it’s never been a better time to get a feel for candidates and allow them to get a feel for their potential new workplace without actually being in the same physical location.
Utilizing digital methods in a variety of formats reduces the risk of a failed hire and ensures both parties feel confident in the person-organization match.
A great way to invite candidates into the online workspace during the recruitment process is through video where you can find out how they respond to ‘real life’ on-the-job scenarios.
During these video sessions, the candidate will also be able to get a sense of the people they’ll be working with, read facial responses better than in a written application, and complete a person-organization fit questionnaire, in a more natural setting.
Adjusting the interview process
Carrying through the focus of values-based assessment to the interview stage not only yields the responses you’re looking for but also emphasizes to candidates the significance of the company’s values.
A candidate will quickly become aware of their inability to fulfill this aspect of the position should questions on the topic be asked throughout the recruitment process.
Consider asking questions such as:
- Describe the kind of working environment that allows you to perform at your best
- What kind of values are most important to you in life?
- Describe the kind of people you get on best with at work
- What are you looking for in your next workplace culture?
When talking to the role itself, using the innovation/customer service role example, you could ask questions such as:
- Tell us about a time you innovated in a previous customer service role
- In what ways can a customer service representative be innovative in their position?
- What does creativity mean to you as a customer service professional?
[Read more: 6 Recruitment Mistakes to Avoid]
Using surveys and exit interviews to evaluate P-O fit
As we’ve mentioned, it’s not easy to measure good P-O fit, but it’s not impossible. Have you considered whether the people with long-standing tenures in your company are a good fit with the organization? Conversely, are the people who are leaving the company after short stints of employment not fitting in?
Consider the questions: who is most productive and why? Who is high-performing and why?
You might find the answers highlight the importance of person-organization fit, amongst other factors.
To gain clarity around these questions, make sure you include them in exit interviews as people tend to be honest in this final stage when they’ve got nothing to lose. In contrast, there’s a lot of good information to learn from on your end.
If you work within the company you’re recruiting for, consider implementing regular staff satisfaction surveys with a focus on company values to gauge employees’ feelings around their own person-organization fit.
How hiring for person-organization fit can affect your culture
Person-organization fit sounds a lot like culture fit, doesn’t it? It’s actually not the same. In this article on trying to find the elusive “culture fit”, Vervoe’s Co-founder and CEO, Omer Molad, explains the difference, saying, “When you say someone fits the culture, it really leaves that open to interpretation. To one hiring manager, that may mean they’re a fan of the local sports team. To another manager, it means that they’re high energy and outgoing. It all depends on who’s doing the hiring”.
Hiring based on cultural fit also diminishes the potential for cultural diversity. If a manager is hiring based on their own personal interests and preferences, they’re going to build a team of people with very similar likes and dislikes. This might ensure great team camaraderie, but it doesn’t address the problem of bias and discrimination.
Workplace culture is ever-changing. It’s inadvertently built through a workforce that is assembled based on good person-organization fits – a group of unique people with suitable skills, diverse interests, and specialties that share the core values of a business.
When more employees by nature live and breathe similar values such as innovation, grit, respect, accountability, and fun the stronger and more identifiable a culture becomes. When a culture is strong, it provides a clear path for company employees to fulfill their greater purpose.
Hiring for person-organization fit should be a priority to ensure staff satisfaction and retention, a high-functioning culture, and ultimately, improved company profits and productivity.
From adjusting your job description, inviting candidates into the workspace, and adjusting your hiring criteria based on exit surveys, you can increase the likelihood that the next candidates you hire will be productive and loyal employees in the long run. Vervoe can make this process simple for you. See how it works instantly by signing up to a free trial.