People Leadership

Misfit Employee or Missed Opportunity? Learning from the Outliers

May 23, 2018

When we talk about an employee’s “fitness” for an organization, we’re not talking about how fast they can run or how much they can bench-press; however, failing to be a “good fit” at work can sometimes make an employee feel like the last kid picked in gym class. Instead of pull-ups, cultural fitness measures the alignment of personality and values between the employee and their organization. Research has found that when values and personalities are aligned between the worker and their employer, productivity soars and employee engagement and retention increase.

Hiring for cultural fit can be extremely valuable, particularly in small and mid-size organizations, where collaboration is frequent and essential, but it’s not without some risk. Over time, the meaning of cultural fit has shifted toward an emphasis on the social, possibly at the expense of other aspects of the workplace culture. And while you may not want to socialize with a certain employee, that doesn’t mean they don’t make a great worker. By focussing so intensely on fit, you may overlook the potential value in those candidates and employees who don’t fit in, but have much to offer in terms of innovation and alternative viewpoints.

While you might already see the value in hiring a so-called “misfit” employee, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about their level of engagement. A study from Penn State University reveals that employees who are aware of their poor cultural fit are often less productive than those who feel more plugged in to the organization. Disengagement also raises the risk of employee attrition, and turnover can be costly for the organization. So, how do you reap the benefits of those employees working outside the box, while ensuring they’re happy within the organization? Download our FREE Managing Employee Fit Guide, which can help you perceive these employees less as misfits and more as opportunities for organizational growth.

Sources:“Leisure activities, job crafting can make company ‘misfits’ more productive.” 

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