Among my trawls of social media, I have recently come across many posts promoting the benefits of hiring a ‘culture add’. That is, new hires that do not fit the mould; new recruits that come from different backgrounds, with different experiences and education to the existing staff.
However, I still see recruitment teams taking on staff just because they’ll get along well with others. Too often, hiring managers want to reduce possible friction by giving positions to people that the current staff would be happy to go for a drink with. Unfortunately, these people often end up maintaining the status quo and are reluctant to challenge authority.
Companies everywhere understand the need to diversify their workforce but too often it’s done to fill a quota or maintain a positive public image. The real benefits of hiring for a culture add are greater: a new hire from outside of the ordinary brings new ideas, opportunities and outlooks. This is something we’ve certainly found in Outvise; the educational and cultural diversity of our team is part of what makes our working environment so dynamic and forward-thinking.
Hiring people from the same talent pool, which is similar to what’s worked in the past, means limiting your team to people who have come from the same path into employment, who have learned the same things from the same universities and who all have the same ideas about what makes success.
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What is culture add?
“Culture add” is the term used in the context of recruitment to denote the difference between hiring somebody for how they augment and improve the existing culture of an organisation. A culture add is somebody who, while aligning with the company’s core values, offers something different and valuable to the existing culture and thus their output.
A culture add’s inclusion in an organisation can offer:
- Diversity of perspective: It recognises the importance of diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints, valuing individuals who bring fresh perspectives to the table.
- Innovation and adaptability: New perspectives that new hires bring can drive innovation and adaptability to volatile and changing markets.
- Inclusivity: Hiring a culture add can make a company more welcoming to people from different minorities and various backgrounds, encouraging a sense of belonging among all team members.
- Enhancing organisational culture: A culture add reinforces and boosts the prevailing organisational culture instead of just conforming to the status quo. More diverse teams can be faster at problem-solving and therefore better equipped to deal with challenges.
- Harmoniously supports core values: A culture add should support and develop the business’s aims and values rather than diluting or diminishing them.
It is also important to remember that a business’s culture is not just what happens from inside one office. The culture depends on a whole organisation to be developed, possibly across several offices and locations. In fact, one of the greater drivers of work culture over recent years has been the increase in hybrid work since the pandemic. Increasing or augmenting the workforce with freelance workers means that more attention is paid to cultivating a work culture that works for everybody. It means that hiring a culture add, instead of a culture fit, impels managers to create a culture that didn’t really exist before.
Culture fit vs culture add
As mentioned, culture fit is when a person is hired because the recruiters think they will get along well with others in the team. This could be for many reasons but is often because they had a good rapport during the interview, liked the same football team, went to the same university, or because they’re a friend of someone else in the office.
There can be some benefits to hiring someone that will be an instant fit, and in some cases, it can be preferable to hiring someone that will disrupt a collaborative atmosphere.
- Hiring someone that fits can help maintain stability and continuity. This could be important if the company is in a period of steady growth.
- It can promote a feeling of belonging to existing colleagues.
- It can avoid the extra effort of managing potential conflicts and promote a cohesive working culture.
Unfortunately, the list of benefits is fairly small, and subsequently, we can find several cons. Focusing on a culture fit hiring strategy risks only taking a superficial look at what the candidate has to offer and could be a result of confirmation bias. That is, seeking reinforcement of what we previously believed to be right and making decisions based on preconceived notions of who a person is or how they behave.
Hiring for a culture add, on the other hand, changes the focus to those individuals that enhance and diversify the culture of the organisation. One of the main focuses of expanding the culture of the workplace may be to bring in more people from a wider variety of backgrounds. That can include hiring more people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. This has the benefit of widening the scope of experience and offering different points of view that can benefit and improve a product. For example, a person with disabilities may have a better understanding of how a product could be more accessible. Furthermore, someone from an ethnic minority or the LGBTQ+ community could give different insights on marketing and advertising, ensuring that the marketing strategy appeals to those groups.
The way we hire has changed, so widening that talent pool is now much easier
Recent changes in recruitment practices, particularly since the pandemic, have improved the access that companies have to candidates from outside their current sphere. Talent platforms enable hiring teams to find workers from all over the world, expanding the level of experience and offering different perspectives on ways of working for everybody. Before beginning the process, it is extremely important that recruiters have a good idea of what the role requires as well as an understanding of the business culture and its needs.
The implications of this are wide-reaching. First and foremost, the inclusion of these various groups increases the product’s reach and could be a sign of greater earning potential. Someone from a minority background might have a more authentic idea about what certain groups are looking for in a product. It also adds up to a greater public perception of the company and brand, which can bring customer loyalty and increased sales. However, it is not all about increased profits.
What is a culture add interview?
Once a potential hire has been identified, you need to identify the contribution they’ll make. Instead of falling back on the old go-tos for establishing rapport, consider adapting your interview technique to account for a culture add. A culture add interview will be an interview style that recruitment teams and HR deploy to ensure that a candidate possesses the qualities of someone who will augment and improve the work culture. There are specific questions a recruiter can ask a potential candidate to find out. Questions that focus on how the candidate has experienced work culture and ways they have contributed to them in the past will be key.
An interview with this focus should also ask when a candidate has used their different experience and creativity to solve a problem. Another possible line of questioning would be how the candidate’s unique perspective aligns with an organisation’s core values and ethics. This is an important subject because, while a culture add can provide a different perspective, they also need to share common goals with the organisation and the team.
Another important theme in an interview would be how the candidate handles situations that are highly collaborative. Regardless of whether the team is office-based, hybrid or fully remote, teams contribute to a culture by working together and communicating within that sphere. Culture is not just the water-cooler moments and the message left on a colleague’s birthday card; it is the nature of communication and collaboration, both of which can now be done through the various connectivity tools we use on a daily basis.
This kind of interview style is particularly important when hiring freelancers because they are often coming into a team that is already fully formed. The effect freelancers have on the culture is a subject that is yet to be fully explored, but the unique effect that freelancers have on teams can be seismic. Their particular experience means that they have been in touch with teams from all over the world, and with different focuses, can then offer unique outlooks on projects.
Hiring freelancers can diversify an organisation’s cultural make-up
A culture add can bring a plethora of benefits to an organisation. New attitudes, ways of working, and experiences can make a team more streamlined, innovative and effective. Consciously deploying tools and methods to find these pivotal hires will be essential to reaping the benefits.
Widening the recruitment net and employing freelancers means increasing your reach to people who might have different approaches to time management and working hours. For instance, people with different physical abilities or women juggling work with busy domestic lives shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance by deviating from the 9 to 5 schedule. Instead, they should be seen as valuable time-management coaches. Many such profiles will be freelance, further domenstrating how hiring freelancers could be one of the best ways to increase the cultural diversity of an organisation.
Hiring a freelancer through a talent platform like Outvise can take care of all steps of the hiring process, including using sophisticated AI tech to seek out, vet, and hire the right candidate to augment, influence and enhance the culture of a business. The potential for advancement by surrounding managers with people that are ready to challenge the norm and not just say “yes”, is huge.
Recruitment Expert and Head of Talent Operations at Outvise. Dedicated to efficiently managing intricate processes. Passionate about discovering exceptional niche talent for global business tech projects while fostering a supportive and empowering environment.