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Understanding Person-Organization Fit

16 Jul 2021

What is person-organization fit?

Person-organization (P-O) fit theory refers to how aligned a person’s core values, beliefs, ethics and purpose are to those of the organization they work for. For example, someone who is results-focused and values speed will fit best with an organization that shares, and enacts, these values.

Organization Fit

It is separate from person-job fit, which is about whether a person has the skills and resources needed to carry out their specific job. It is also different to person-vocation fit, which refers to whether they are well-suited to their chosen profession. Some employers will not use the term “person-organization” fit but will refer to the importance of employees being a good “fit for culture.”

Pre-hire assessments that measure a candidate’s attitude and values help indicate whether a potential recruit is a good fit for the organization’s culture.

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How is PO fit determined? 

A good way to determine P-O fit is through a pre-hire assessment that measures attitudes and values. The results will give a more objective view of whether someone is likely to be a good fit with the organization’s culture. 

What are the advantages of assessing PO fit during recruitment?

Organization Fit - Value Assessment
  • Improves objectivity  collecting empirical evidence on P-O fit helps to reduce employers’ reliance on interviews or gut feel to judge whether a candidate is ‘right’. 
  • Cuts through unconscious bias – interviewers can weigh this empirical evidence against their first impressions, helping them identify whether any unconscious beliefs are influencing their judgment.
  • Improves employee engagement – hiring people that are a good P-O fit will help ensure they fit seamlessly into the organization.  Employees who feel a strong sense of belonging are over six times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t.
  • Supports retention – employees who feel a strong affinity with their employer are more likely to remain with them.  Millennials who have a strong connection to the purpose of their organization are 5.3 times more likely to stay.
  • Reduces recruitment costs – around 15% of employees leave their organization within the first 90 days.  Replacing an employee that leaves costs about a third of their annual salary.  Improving retention will help reduce the number of new people needed, driving down recruitment costs and delivering a better return on investment. 

Ethics and biases  

One of the commonly cited concerns regarding person-organization fit theory is that it can propagate existing biases.  If an organization is largely comprised of men, could hiring for fit lead to women falling out of the process?

This is compounded by anecdotal evidence, suggesting that hirers have used P-O fit as an excuse to recruit people who socialize like them or have similar interests.

The best way to address this concern is to use a pre-hire assessment to make a more objective decision on P-O fit.

A more rigorous approach 

Considering P-O fit during recruitment offers employers many advantages. It can help new people make a smooth transition into the business, stay for longer, and perform at their best.

However, recruiters must apply rigor to the process. Pre-hire assessments enable employers to adopt a more scientific approach, helping them access the advantages of PO fit, while avoiding potential pitfalls.  

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