The information technology job market has been challenging in recent years due to some traditional hiring norms changing. There are plenty of variables we have seen before that come and go in cycles such as high demand or scarcity of available talent. However, a relatively new variable that has been building influence is company culture, which is often referred to during the hiring process as “culture fit”. Companies have been building incredible cultures for almost two decades now in response to studies around employee engagement. Organizations like Gallup began offering employment engagement surveys in the early 2000s and have been tracking engagement and disengagement. These surveys resulted in companies designing and building company cultures focused on improving employee engagement and satisfaction. According to a recent Gallup article by Jim Harter, employee engagement is at a 20 year high of 34 percent and employees who are actively disengaged is at an all-time low of 13 percent. So this approach appears to be working and leading to positive business outcomes.
There is growing concern this strategy may have reached a tipping point and the phrase “too much of a good thing” is being echoed more and more. There are signs culture fit may be falling out of favor. These strong cultures begin to cause damage when taken to extremes and a fine line can be crossed. A culture can go from being coveted by job seekers to a “turn off” if viewed to be overly exclusive. A 2017 article in Forbes stated, “In some organizations “culture fit” has become a weaponized phrase that interviewers use as a blanket term to reject candidates that don’t match the hiring manager’s view of the ideal candidate; and as such, it has become the embodiment of unconscious bias.” At Aureus Group, we have seen top talent with the required skills, experience, and subject matter expertise be discarded in the name of culture fit.
We can only hope this trend evolves into one focusing more on how a candidate can add value rather than what they are missing from a culture fit perspective. A culture built on a set of values and hiring those who can add value do work together very effectively. Are you up for the challenge?
Bruce is the Regional Manager for Aureus Group and has been in the information technology field for 25 years. As a graduate of Iowa State University with a BBA in management and information systems, Bruce began his career as a programmer for Mutual of Omaha. For the past 19 years he has been a leader in the IT staffing and consulting business in Nebraska and the Midwest. He has been in various leadership roles ranging from talent recruitment and sales to human resources and operational management.
At Aureus Group he leads the information systems and technology team, which is highly skilled in providing top talent to their clients under staff augmentation consulting or direct hire placement services.