Give love a chance – corporate culture rules

19.09.2015 | Ilpo Järvenpää

Experience and technical expertise! A hungry attitude!

These are the things employers look for, especially when recruiting for the IT sector. Of course, one needs to have the necessary competences in place. The work must get done. And the motivation needs to be there so that each employee does their best.


When a new employee is starting out, they have great expectations and a burning desire to get down to business. Unless the new, skilled employee feels at home, motivation is short-lived. They start feeling bad. They start looking for new challenges, and the work relationship ends all too soon. The recruitment process goes back to square one. The employee didn’t fit in with the company culture.

What is organisational culture?

There are many elaborate definitions for it. In simpler terms, cultural compatibility in corporate life means how the employee conforms to company values, goals, and operational models. How the employee adapts to the company’s collective behaviour.

Company culture is the glue that holds the organisation together. Thus it is natural that cultural compatibility should be one of the key factors in assessing an applicant’s suitability for a position. According to research, incompatibility can cost the company more than half of the employee’s yearly salary.

To enable evaluating a candidate’s suitability with the company culture, the organisation’s own culture must first be defined and documented. Once this is done it is possible to predict, by comparing the worker’s cultural characteristics, what the chances for mutually beneficial co-existence are for the company and the employee.

What are the benefits?

Studies show that an employee’s compatibility with the company culture leads to higher job satisfaction

  • adds commitment to their work,
  • produces better performance, and
  • makes the employee stay with the organisation longer.

Culture conflicts

Example of the office culture of two different IT companies:

Company A:

  • The space consists of open-plan offices to make communication easier. Dress code is informal. Most people wear shirts and jeans. The atmosphere is relaxed. Projects are carried out via teamwork.

Company B:

  • The space consists of individual small rooms, or personal work spaces that are separated from one another with high screens to facilitate concentrating on work tasks. The dominant dress code is the so-called business look. People work in projects individually, working by themselves on their specified tasks.

Although most companies have their office environment somewhere in between these two extremes, the operational environments of companies competing in the same sector can be vastly different. Therefore, if Company A hires an employee who needs his/her own space, the co-workers will fail to see him/her as a team player. The new employee becomes agitated. Concentration is increasingly difficult as one cannot even hear one’s own thoughts. Hire the wrong personality type for Company B, and they will feel lonely because they don’t get enough support from their fellow workers.

Studies indicate that employees who fit the organisational culture well

  • identify with their workplace,
  • have a stronger commitment to their work, and
  • stay employed in the organisation for a longer period of time.

Thus, recruiters should regard a job applicant’s cultural compatibility as one selection criterion – in addition to competence and attitude.

Assessing cultural compatibility

Here are a few questions to evaluate a candidate’s suitability:

Why would you like to work for us in particular? What constitutes an ideal place to work in your view?

  • The answers will reveal whether the candidate’s view of our company is correct and also what they really want.

Describe the best superior you have ever had?

  • The response to this enables us to see what sort of management culture the candidate finds the most comfortable. If their favourite superior has given full rein and has not interfered much with their work, a company culture that believes in constant and direct feedback is unlikely to be the best option for this applicant.

What do you like best in your current co-workers?

  • The answer to this question indicates what kinds of human relationships the candidate likes to form with his/her colleagues. If they say know-how is what they appreciate the most in their colleagues, their human relationships are also likely to remain at a professional level.

The trend these days is to have a passion for one’s work. Not all of the employees’ expertise can be utilised if their minds are not fully set on their work. It is the recruiter’s job to ensure that the passion can be ignited in the first place.
Give love a chance to get that initial spark!

About the author
Ilpo Järvenpää
Customer Success Executive, CEO