Data Offers a Sturdy Foundation but Culture Is Your Recruiting Bedrock

By Karleen Mussman

Jun. 13, 2017

Cultural fit is a critical piece of the puzzle when a candidate is evaluating job responsibilities, benefits or even an offer.

Whether you hire 10 or 1,000 people a year, a well-designed recruitment and retention process enabled by technology is the initial step to a successful placement. But every touch point with a candidate should be meaningful and convey consistent and compelling messages about a company and its culture.

A sound recruiting framework may be important but it is culture that will differentiate your organization from competition both in recruiting and retention. Think culture first and last to attract and keep the best talent in an era of an unprecedented and increasingly competitive talent environment.

Recruitment and retention efforts need to start with a sound foundation, and that can be accomplished with technology. Analytics validate and support much of the recruitment efforts at my company, Baker Tilly, and we use them to measure and evaluate our programs to understand a candidate’s life cycle. Analytics also allow us to assess where and why candidates stop at certain points in the recruitment pipeline, helps us understand the differences between successful and unsuccessful effort and which parts of the process can be improved.

The recruitment process is transformed once a candidate enters the pipeline. Pay and benefits can get a great candidate in the door, but the quality and amount of benefits and perks are irrelevant if an employee and an organization’s values don’t align. Employees will not continue to be recruited or stay at an organization where there are cultural differences. In fact, a Gallup study found that half of employees quit due to bad bosses and cultural fit, so starting with culture helps ensure lasting job satisfaction.

While a candidate is evaluating job responsibilities, benefits or even an offer, cultural fit is a critical piece of the puzzle. Culture is even important to millennials who are, according to the Gallup study, not pursuing job satisfaction but rather personal and professional development. Only 29 percent of employed millennials report being fully engaged at work. This has been attributed to millennial attitudes about meaningful work that is enriching and rewarding.

I started my career in human resources in campus recruiting and now spend a lot of time on new hire orientation from entry level to partners. We hire over 1,000 employees annually and while I make sure candidates have the technical skills and business acumen we expect, I also assess if their values match ours.

By the time a candidate has gone through our recruitment process, they know our firm. Candidates should find that everyone they interact with at the firm shares our values and cultural behavior. This happens because we believe from the C-suite down that culture is crucial — and experience of it starts early in the recruitment process and continues throughout employment.

Cultural credibility is important as well. As HR executives, we play a lead role in ensuring the culture we develop is authentic — even beyond the ping-pong tables, smoothie machines and in-house yoga classes. We are committed to creating opportunities to engage our people in doing good work.

Advancing our culture as a tool for recruitment too provides the opportunity to retain the close-knit collegial culture of a smaller organization. Making a company’s culture a compelling part of our employee value proposition enables organizations to recruit great candidates, act on their feedback and keep the company an attractive, rewarding and exciting place to be.

Karleen Mussman is the chief human resources officer with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause and has been with the firm since 2015.

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