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Chapter 14

Passion & Cultural Fit

Although workers are changing jobs more than in years past, they are not less passionate about their work. In fact, passion for the job and cultural fit are two of the key traits recruiters look for in future employees—and significantly impact how long employees stay at an organization.

It’s important for organizations to be realistic about potential employee expectations, and to convey company culture as part of the recruitment process. With the war for talent continuing, many recruiters are focused on selling the company—but if workers find that it wasn’t all that was promised, they’ll quickly leave. If it’s not a good cultural fit, it’s a waste of time for both the employer and the employee.

People very seldom fail here because of subject matter expertise; they fail if they don’t have the cultural fit or passion.

Mark Gasta, Chief People Officer, Vail Resorts

Allowing students to test out different jobs for fit via experiential learning can also help decrease costly turnover for entry-level workers. The cost of attrition is estimated at 90 percent to 200 percent of annual salary—so it’s important for both employers and employees to do their due diligence in identifying a job match. With turnover increasing as the Millennial generation supersedes others in the workforce, retaining employees becomes a sizable challenge.

Once working at a company, job rotation can keep employees happy. By changing roles within their company and fostering variety in their careers, employees can renew their passions as individual needs and interests evolve—without having to leave an organization. Although rotational role programs can be costly for business to deliver, companies not large enough to provide those opportunities can increase cross-company training and networking events in order to provide similar exposure.

If you hire someone for the right skills but they’re not a fit with the culture, they’ll fail every time.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO, TalenTrust LLC

There are many ways that companies can help their workers engage and fit into the company culture. Hiring a culture or engagement officer may be costly, but many Colorado executives say that such an investment is worthwhile. However, it’s important to ensure that any ideas generated are authentic to the workers within the company.

Culture isn’t created in a boardroom; it’s how the customers and employees experience your company.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO, TalenTrust LLC

Across the board, companies say that vision and values are competitive differentiators in hiring. When it’s difficult for a large corporation to compete with a startup on atmosphere, or when it’s difficult for a startup to compete with a large corporation on compensation, a company’s mission and connection to a defined value system are becoming important recruitment and retention tools.

The most important thing is making sure that everyone in the organization knows that they’re changing someone’s life. If you work for an organization that’s mission based, it’s critical that you know that your work matters.

Christine Benero, President/CEO, Mile High United Way

At for-profit companies, it’s still important for employees to understand their end customers, and to know how their own work ultimately affects real people down the line. Knowing that their career helps people improves worker happiness and satisfaction. For-profit businesses can also partner with nonprofits to provide meaningful opportunities for employees to participate in community service. Programs like this can be very attractive to Millennials, who blur the lines between work and personal life and see their jobs as extensions of themselves.

Personality fit is also important—companies recognize this in recruiting efforts, and are looking for matches across skills, culture, and behavior. Some companies are even conducting personality assessments as part of the application process. For team-based cultures, diversity of personality can also mean diversity of perspective and ideas, which is necessary for innovation.

The number one thing I look for in a worker is passion and enthusiasm. You look for someone who really wants the job and wants to grow into the job. You can send someone to training and help them get educated, but you can’t manufacture that passion.

Kim Day, CEO, Denver International Airport

Millennials, in particular, want to be passionate and motivated in their careers. They don’t want to punch a clock; they want to know how their specific task fits into the bigger picture. As a result, employee engagement is even more critical to retention.