‘Fit’ to Hire?
The dating site eHarmony is the latest vendor to enter the hiring arena, with a platform designed to match jobseekers with companies whose cultures best align with their personalities and values. But critics say it can potentially undermine workforce diversity, experience and other factors.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
“Cultural fit” has become a major buzzword in talent acquisition in recent years, under the premise that a tight fit between new hires and an organization’s culture will lead to higher retention rates, engaged employees and increased productivity.One of the latest vendors to throw its hat into this ring is Los Angeles-based global dating site eHarmony, which in April announced its Elevated Careers platform.
The platform is designed to, in the words of eHarmony founder and CEO Dr. Neil Clark Warren, “allow people to love not only what they do, but where they do it” by matching jobseekers with companies whose cultures best align with their personalities and values. The new platform, nearly 8 years in the making, is based on eHarmony’s research-based matching process, which it says is responsible for 438 marriages per day.
Elevated Careers uses 16 “cultural factors” to determine best fits between candidates and employers.Poor cultural fit between companies and employees is a major factor behind the low engagement rates in today’s workforce, says Elevated Careers Vice President Dan Erickson, who led the team that created the platform.”Lots of people leave their jobs because of the problem that our solution solves: lack of engagement,” he says, citing studies that indicate as many as 70 percent of today’s employees either aren’t engaged or are actively disengaged from their work.
“A poor match between a person’s core work values and the company culture not only leads to lost productivity and higher turnover, but lots of wasted time and money for recruiters, as well.”However, critics say that using cultural fit as a criterion — particularly when it’s used by companies to assess candidates — can potentially undermine workforce diversity, certainly in background, experience and other factors, if not ethnicity.Celia de Anca, director of the Centre for Diversity in Global Management at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, writes in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Why Hiring for Cultural Fit Can Thwart Your Diversity Efforts” that assessing candidates for cultural fit can end up “creating a situation in which companies will be very diverse in appearance, but intrinsically homogenous. They will be hiring the same profile of people, even though they may have different backgrounds.
“This will undermine one of the most important benefits of workplace diversity, she writes: “Creating places where people with different ideas, different perspectives, different attitudes and different aspirations can work positively together. The beauty of diversity is to have different, unique people come together to work on a common project.”People who don’t fit naturally into “any given prototype,” de Anca writes, “are often the ones who, because they don’t fit easily into any one group, serve as the ‘translators’ between groups.” These are valuable people for any organization to have, she writes.