May 3

Why cultural fit is crucial to attracting, recruiting and retaining legal talent


Tired of hiring people to join your legal department only for them to walk out on you within the first few weeks/months? Or maybe you’ve hired someone who as it happens, is the polar opposite to the person you met during the recruitment process?

If you haven’t experienced this yet, you’re one of the lucky ones. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t or won’t happen to you in the future. 

One of the largest (and often ignored) factors behind the inability to attract, recruit and retain is cultural fit. 

Just as people have personalities, businesses do too. For example, the culture at a large corporate company with a substantial legal department is likely to be very different from a small but growing start-up or SME with only a handful of people in the legal team. Sometimes experienced legal professionals who have bags of experience simply don’t fit into smaller, start-up cultures as their personality just isn’t aligned to that type of culture or ethos. 

With that being said cultural fit is a two-way street and to have a successful partnership both parties have to be aligned throughout the entire employee lifecycle. That’s why hiring people based purely on skills and experience isn’t always the right thing to do. 

In this article, we explain exactly what ‘cultural fit’ is and why you need to care about it if you want to attract, recruit and retain the best legal talent for your business. 

So, what is cultural fit?

A company’s culture can be seen as the values and beliefs of an organisations leadership team through the collective force of employees, interactions between management and staff, and the environment in which they work.

Cultural fit essentially comes down to finding and keeping people who align with your businesses culture. 

That’s not to say your company should be full of people of a certain age, gender, skin colour of belief. The best company cultures are often the most inclusive and diverse. 

A great cultural fit is all based on the fact that an employee who feels connected to the values of the business and clicks naturally with its nuances is more likely to thrive.

Adding the wrong people into the business can disrupt and dramatically impact your department and wider team if you’re a relatively small, tight knit group…

You don’t work in HR, so why should you give a monkeys?

It’s HR’s job to worry about this isn’t it? 

Of course, the overall challenge of company culture sits with the HR and leadership team however if you’re not considering cultural fit throughout the hiring process then you’re less likely to recruit someone who’s going to excel in the role and stay in your team for years to come.  

Culture fit is one of those things that’s easy to overlook when it exists, but that becomes quite obvious when it’s missing. For example, consider some of the impacts of hiring an employee whose values, personality and goals don’t align with yours. 

A bad cultural hire is bad for you, your department and the wider business. The short-term effect is poor quality of work and productivity. The long-term effect is that their poor morale, attitude and engagement can rub off on their peers. 

Having someone in the office that doesn’t fit the culture, is negative and unproductive will soon start to grate away at other employees who are the right mold for your company and are consistently engaged and productive. 

The true cost of a bad hire can be really quite frightening when hidden costs and the impact of disengagement and team disruption are taken into account. 

4 reasons why cultural fit should always be a prominent theme throughout the recruitment process 

Here is our top 4 reasons why you need to consider cultural fit during the recruitment process. 

1. Cultural fit influences retention 

If employees aren’t a good culture fit, they’re more likely to leave. Staff turnover can be costly for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for smaller businesses. 

While increasing employee retention is important from a morale standpoint, decreasing employee turnover also significantly impacts your bottom line by:

  • Reducing recruitment costs
  • Cutting training costs
  • Increasing productivity

2. Better quality of work

People who love their jobs and the company they work for tend to be more satisfied and perform at a higher level. If someone loves their job but is miserable where they work, it can lead to poor performance and quality of work that can affect your department and the businesses overall productivity and profitability. This is a significant reason why hiring for culture fit as part of your hiring strategy matters.

When an employee doesn’t click with a company it ultimately leads to dissatisfaction that affects productivity. If they don’t care about the business are they really going to go the extra mile? For example a new hire who has worked in a large legal department previously may be used to getting tasks done on their own. And in some cases there’s nothing wrong with that, but if collaboration is part of your culture and you don’t have a team player on your hands then you might be in trouble.

3.Positive working environment

As discussed above, hiring someone who isn’t a good culture fit can create a negative work environment. Someone who is miserable where they are may contribute to bringing down the morale of other employees and the workplace in general.

If you have a small department or work for a startup or SME you can’t afford to have disruptors in the business that are going to ruffle feathers. The last thing you want to do is alienate your core team of top performers across the business. Everyone has their limits and if you hire someone who goes against the grain they may decide to leave. 

4.Companies with good cultures attract top talent

Whilst salary, benefits and progression are often viewed as the top reasons that people seek new employment, business culture is becoming increasingly more important.  

If a candidate has concerns about whether they will fit into an organisation culturally, they are less likely to accept a job, or to stay for long if they do accept it.

Communicating your company’s culture from the start of the hiring process helps prospective candidates understand what they can expect to experience as an employee enabling them to make an informed decision about whether to apply or not. 

With staff turnover being extremely costly for most businesses it’s critical that your culture is clearly communicated throughout the entire process, not just at the interview stage or once you’ve hired. 

Last but not least…

Now that you understand the value of cultural fit it’s time to do something about it. It’s critical that you work hand-in-hand with your HR team to ensure that you get someone who fits your business and ends the merry go round of bad hires.

Our next article in the cultural fit series focuses on the ‘how’. 

Here’s How to ensure that you attract, recruit and keep the best talent in your business


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