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A cultural fit for success

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Instead of being blinded by experience and qualifications, Greg Grimes, SVP of HR APAC at CEVA Logistics shares some measures to better assess a candidate’s cultural fit for your company.

Many of the best recruiters are trained to select those candidates whose skills, experience and competencies best match job requirements of open positions, but may miss one vital element that will make or break a strong and healthy relationship with the company – culture fit.

As we know, an engaged and motivated workforce is the key to driving results which then leads to a company’s sustained success in any industry. Proper motivation of employees can take many forms, but begins with one important step – selecting candidates who are the right fit for the company.

When done properly, newly hired employees’ “time to productivity” can be cut in half, while the level of engagement and level of satisfaction can quickly rise.

Recruiters and hiring managers care about cultural fit more today than before. Many believe that, skills and experience aside, a person’s values and work-style fit with the organisation will be the deciding factor whether the person settles in happily, or leaves sooner rather than later.

The often hidden key to proper fit includes matching the candidate with the company’s real cultural attributes. I liken it to the “heartware” of the company. The cultural attributes of a company are lived and demonstrated in the way managers, peers and employees interact, how decisions are made, and crisis and issues managed to create a work atmosphere that people enjoy and stay engaged in.

The supply chain and logistics industry has gone through radical transformation in the past 10 years. Especially in Asia, the industry is becoming more complex as customers increase the demand for technology based end-to-end solutions to business needs.

Big companies today look for agility in their supply chains and recognise the strategic importance of globally optimised supply chains which give them full visibility, control and cost savings for their business. Technology, for example, has significantly transformed the nature of supply chain from a labour-centric industry to an information, knowledge-based industry. Likewise, the approach to finding the right talent is also changing. Companies in this industry are now recruiting for business and technology-savvy employees who understand customers’ businesses.

CEVA Logistics is no different in that respect, however, there is growing recognition that employees’ success is directly correlated with behaviour, attitude and value fit to the company culture.

I joined CEVA less than a year ago and have come to recognise the diversity of talent that is required for this complex and increasingly sophisticated industry. The CEVA fit is based on much more than qualifications, skills and experience fit, which is why even those from other industries not originally destined for logistics, can integrate into the CEVA family.

Skills can be progressively acquired and experience can be gained through new responsibilities – but being aligned with a company’s culture and vision can’t be taught.

When working for a high-tech company, I was asked to interview a leading candidate for a senior engineering role. When reviewing the candidate’s CV, I realised his professional experience consisted entirely in the music world – he was a pianist. However, because his values, principles, attitude and behaviours were all directly in line with company culture and vision, we took the risk and hired him. Five years later, he has became one of the bright stars and most respected engineers in the division.

To apply the company’s cultural attributes to the interview evaluation measurements, one must have a good understanding of the “operating” culture within the company.

Values such as diversity, having a culture of operational excellence, protecting integrity and respect are critical elements of the company’s ‘heartware’ and what define us. In our recruitment process, we aim to look beyond the obvious to assess the cultural fit, to ensure a successful relationship between an employee and the company.

Beyond the stated skills and experience, recruiters and hiring managers are challenged to uncover the candidate’s ability levels during the interview process. For example, if the company has a culture of empowerment, determining the person’s comfort level with making tough decisions with limited information will be important.

The degree of compatibility between a person’s values, principles, attitudes and a company’s culture, vision, and strategy are what make or break a career in the long run.

And the sum of many successful careers can only result in a successful company.

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