In the Human Resources and Talent Management industry, we love a good culture fit. Finding a great cultural match can create a perfect hiring match. But what is a great culture fit anyway? How do you know when you have found a good culture fit? How do you define “good” culture? There are many ways to compare culture fits, but one of the best happens around this time of the year and involves Thanksgiving dinner.

We have systems, assessments tools, and metrics to ensure we screen for certain skills and characteristics in new hires, but finding a great match is not always this simple. A portion of culture fit is also determined by diversity, a broad perspective, and an ability to assimilate within the organization.

When you look at corporate career pages, websites, and talent communities, examples of culture fit are evident. It’s important to pay attention to what a company shares online because they are not only advertising their culture, but they are also showing off their best employees. The employees highlighted represent what that company values as a good culture fit.

When the air gets crisp and the leaves fall to the ground, we begin to reflect over the passing year and tend to feel more thankful. Normally, we are thankful for our families, our health, and our jobs. We are also thankful for our bosses and co-workers. One of the best ways we celebrate our thankfulness is with food. In the U.S., we are entering the season of potlucks and Thanksgiving dinners.

Many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s an American tradition. However, not everyone observes Thanksgiving because of different religious beliefs, ethnicities, or cultural backgrounds. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, one thing is for certain: food is appreciated universally and accepted as a symbol of thanks and caring. Sharing a meal is still one of the most sincere forms of friendship, and cooking for someone is a personal gesture that shows how highly you regard him or her. You can learn a lot about peoples’ culture based on the meals they cook and share.

Growing up in the South, for Thanksgiving we always had the same dinner: turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, collard greens, cabbage, potato salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie. It was great! That’s what all my friends had for dinner too. Culturally, we all fit together, but we weren’t too diverse or open to new experiences. It wasn’t until I went away to college in the Mid-West that I experienced other Thanksgiving foods like roasted pig, baked beans, kidney-bean salad, fresh cranberry sauce (not the canned gelatin), stuffing with raisins and nuts, and marshmallows atop a sweet potato casserole.

In corporate America, having a “Day of Thanks” or “Harvest” feast is a great way to acknowledge all the wonderful cultures in your company. It’s also a good way to measure employee engagement. If your staff participates in the feast, then you know sharing is a part of your culture.

If your corporate holiday-dinner table features primarily traditional dishes, then you likely have a more homogenous corporate culture. If there are a variety of dishes representing many ethnicities and experiences – from old favorites like turkey and dressing to new additions like curry lamb and pho noodles – then you know that your hiring process selects outstanding culture-fit hires for your organization.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: CostofWork.com and ResumeCrusade.com , and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including PerformanceICreate.com and SmartRecruiters.com . He has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”, one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the HR Blogger Network, one of the “25 Must-Read HR Blogs in 2013”, and also featured on Oprah.com. He is very active with the Society of Human Resource Management, working closely with conference directors, communication chairs, and social media teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to develop social strategies to engage attendees and enhance their conference experience. Chris earned his master’s degree in Labor and Human Resources from Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he has developed a reputation for helping his clients create HR strategies, and individuals master the tough economic challenges of the South.

3 Comments

  • Avatar Rachel D. says:

    The reality is that we all need each other, and I am both grateful and proud to have a team I can count on. Organizational culture is built over time, and Thanksgiving is a chance to acknowledge the different cultures of your people and celebrate how well they all work together. 

  • Avatar Mya W. says:

    Just like in our personal lives, our workplace is filled with people from different cultures. Using Thanksgiving to know those cultures and help them once again become part of the greater organizational culture is beneficial for the company and for its people. 

  • Avatar Brooke M. says:

    I think it’s very important for companies to encourage a culture and cycle of gratitude, where people not only feel thankful for each other, but also continuously work to be the kind of productive employees for which others will be grateful.

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