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Culture-Add Recruitment: Building a Company Culture that Retains Top Talent

by Michael Murphy / July 9, 2024

It has long been known that a good “culture” match can enhance both job satisfaction and team productivity. People who work well together and who share values and working styles can enjoy a greater team synergy, and company culture provides a great baseline to encourage that kind of positive connection between coworkers.

The original goal was “culture fit,” seeking people who reflect the stated company culture and existing team dynamic. However, as HR’s understanding of culture synergy has evolved, it as been realized that a single unified culture is not necessary. Each person can bring the positive elements of their own personalities and working styles which can enhance the team and company culture. This is known as the philosophy of Culture Add.


What Is Culture Add?

Culture add is when new employees bring new and valuable dynamics to the company culture. Many companies use culture add to indicate that their candidates or employees need not fit into a specific mold, but rather, add to the company culture instead.

Culture is used to ensure that a workforce is made of diverse, innovative, and inclusive members rather than creating a homogenous environment of mental clones. While culture add may focus on a the core principles of the business, the different backgrounds, perspectives, mental arrangements, and problem-solving styles between team members is celebrated. New employees are also evaluated not only on their synergy with existing team members, but also on how they might change and enhance the team.


Culture Fit vs. Culture Add

The most important thing to understand about culture add is that it is an evolution of culture fit. Employers enacting culture fit knew that people who work well together get better work done. However, too much culture fit can lead to stagnation, cliquishness, and other downsides of groups that are too closely similar.

Culture add develops the concept of finding a workplace where your style “fits in” to embrace the idea that each person can bring something unique to the group to improve and grow the dynamic, not just fit into an existing mold.

Culture Fit

  • Singular idea of the type of person that will mesh well with the company culture and team dynamic.
  • Dictates a desired set of personal values, beliefs, behaviors, and personality traits to align with company core values.
  • Creates homogenous workforces where everyone is very similar
  • Can limit team diversity in many aspects.
  • Stagnant and difficult to adapt to changing conditions.

Culture Add

  • Focuses on how employees’ unique qualities add to the company culture
  • Seeks personalities, skills, perspectives, and values that will improve a team dynamic by enriching it
  • Can still be guided by core company values
  • Encourages diversity and welcomes positive new aspects to the company culture
  • Is able to adapt and change with the staff composition


Examples of Culture Add Hiring

Enhancing Team Dynamics With Unique Skills

Someone with an unusual work background who brings additional insights and skills to each project. For example, a designer with a technical background who can add functionality and efficiency perspective to new designs.

Building Interpersonal Team Capabilities

Someone with exceptional interpersonal skills or emotional intelligence could strengthen team cohesion and improve communication practices within the organization. Their ability to mediate conflicts and build strong relationships can add immense value beyond their technical skill set.

Around-the-Clock Efficiency

Welcoming team members with different natural schedules. Night owls who are able and willing to take on assignments that require late-night work such as connecting with international clients in different time zones.

Creative Problem-Solvers

People with an unusual way of thinking often provide creative and resourceful solutions to problems and enhance a team's overall problem-solving capabilities.

Work-Life Balance

Introducing someone who goes home on time to a team of competitive young professionals can enhance work-life balance, while introducing someone who works late can enhance dedicated efficiency to a team that always leaves on the clock.

Making Room for Diversity

Bringing on just one person who breaks the mold can make room for everyone on the team to embrace their own diverse traits that stray from the cultural norm. Culture add compounds as each person begins balancing their efficiency, creativity, and brings their personal strengths to the table instead of trying to be homogenous.


Culture Add Interview Questions

When hiring to add to your company culture, a few new interview questions can help you reveal how each team member might contribute in addition to how well they might enjoy and mesh with the company culture they will be joining. These questions can help you gain perspective on the growth and change that could be achieved with each new hire.

“What aspects of the job are you most passionate or excited about?”

Encourage each candidate to share their individual interests, passions, and skills regarding the job at hand. This will help reveal their perspective and the elements of enthusiasm or dedication they bring to the table.

“How do you personally benefit a team that you are working with?”

Invite candidates to share their usual role in a team and how they provide value to teams they have worked with in the past. You may quickly identify leaders, mentors, auditors, designers, and more.

“Give an example of when you creatively solved a problem.”

Learn how candidates approach creative problem-solving and even how they view creativity in the problem-solving process. This can spotlight how they will contribute to team challenges in the future.


Case Study: Patagonia

Culture add is the natural evolution to the benefits of culture-fit hiring, as discovered by Patagonia. Dean Carter, the HR chief of Patagonia believes in a bottom-up method for reviewing resumes. First, he looks for culture-add opportunities that promote a diverse and dynamic company culture. He checks for hobbies, volunteer experience, and candidates with clear passions written into their application documents. Especially a passion for environmental activism.

This helps to avoid a homogenous workforce and emphasizes the strength of diversity within the Patagonia team. Carter’s hiring strategy effectively reflects Patagonia’s commitment to environmental causes while building a team with many skills, personalities, backgrounds, and perspectives. It also affects a deliberate move away from the more structured hiring practices of “culture fit,” embracing innovation and inclusivity with every new hire.


How To Hire With Culture Add in Mind

  • Look for areas within your team or organization where new hires could contribute to the diversity of thought, experience, or background. This could be in terms of different industry knowledge, innovative problem-solving approaches, or underrepresented perspectives in your team.
  • Choose one or two core values that your team will share, such as a passion for the mission, while leaving other traits open for diversity and culture-add possibilities.
  • Keep an open mind in the hiring process. Watch for people with interests, skills, and traits that could enhance your team dynamic. You may see opportunities for culture add that were not anticipated.
  • Encourage your current employees to bring their unique perspectives to the table, de-emphasizing the need for homogeny in favor of diversity. This will strengthen your team and make new culture-add hires feel more able to be themselves.


Mastering Company Culture with isolved by Platinum Group

A comprehensive approach to team management is at the core of building a strong company culture shared by everyone on your team. An all-in-one HCM system like isolved, offered by Platinum Group can empower your team with communication, engagement, and the opportunity to construct a positive company culture together. This ultimately can lead to more powerful recruitment and higher retention rates. Discover isolved by Platnum Group for your company.


Tags: Company Culture Talent Acquisition Culture Add Team Dynamics Inclusive Workplace

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.