RESHAPING WORK CULTURE
Did you know that the majority of the world’s adult population spends over one-third of their life at work? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual American Time Use Survey, in 2019, 24 percent of working individuals did some or all of their work at home, and 82 percent did some or all of their work at their workplace (BLS). Today, COVID has drastically altered that percentage along with the culture of work for most people.
Due to such a rapid shift to working-from-home, work and home are no longer separated by physical boundaries. The blurring of the lines between professional and private life has been a rough adjustment for many, but those who fare the best typically have a strong P-E fit.
WHAT IS P-E FIT?
Don’t worry. P-E fit has nothing to do with being fit in PE class. In Industrial-Organizational(I/O) Psychology, the term P-E fit stands for Person-Environment Fit and describes the degree to which a worker and their organizational environment match. In short, it determines the compatibility factor.
For a successful and enjoyable work experience, there must be a mutual cultural fit.
Company culture consists of so many moving parts that I/O psychologists have created four domains within the P-E fit framework.
The four domains of P-E fit:
This ensures that companies are looking at compatibility in a comprehensive manner. However, these domains are prioritized differently depending on role and job duties. (Ostroff & Zhan)
For example, for a startup whose company culture is rooted in innovation, an employee with a high P-E fit is one who takes initiative, is a creative problem solver, and is willing to put in extra hours. Another employee who produces high quality deliverables, but requires more of a clearly laid out management structure, would have a lower P-E fit within this organization.
This is not an indication of the ability or quality of the candidate, but more so how they would flourish in the company when it comes to productivity. When an employee is well-aligned with all four of these “fits”, there is usually a mutual understanding of the work atmosphere. Knowing that your working style and mindset is compatible with the rest of the employees makes the transition into work life easier.
CHANGES IN TRADITION
Working from home has given many employees clarity about their individual PE-fit. Although companies have adapted their workplace procedures differently as a result of COVID-19, many organizations were forced to transition the majority of their operations to a virtual format. In order to remain successful, these changes required tailored adaptations from employees and employers alike to fit each business’s new model.
Some have transitioned with great ease into an online format due to ease of communication and an underlying understanding of company expectations and adaptability levels. Others have realized that they have difficulty adapting to this transition and sometimes this is a consequence of a low P-E fit.
The value of good PE-fit is especially apparent in our current marketplace, given the lack of in-person interaction. In the office setting, potential PE-fit issues were easier to dismiss. While teleworking, these incompatibilities are more easily distinguished, and contribute heavily to increased job dissatisfaction. To mitigate these issues it takes the cooperation of the organization and the employee.
ASSESSING COMPATIBILITY PRIOR TO HIRE
Assessing P-E fit during the hiring process sets up both the organization and the potential employee for success from the beginning. It ensures that in the case of unexpected scenarios, much like right now, employees feel comfortable in their work environment, whether they happen to be working physically or virtually.
All individuals involved in the talent acquisition process within an organization should consider the organization’s values and needs when selecting new employees. For example, some companies place a larger emphasis on interacting socially with coworkers than others. If that is important to the company, they can determine person-person fits by comparing candidates with the current employees as a part of their recruitment process.
It is also advantageous to create a good description of the characteristics of the job for the sake of both the hiring team and the potential employee. Clearly mapping out each position’s job duties and the requirements necessary to be successful in that position make it easier to determine what candidates are the best fit. This can later be followed up by a reliable questionnaire or interview method that evaluates the candidate’s values/goals in order to further establish their fit within the organization (Andela & van der Doef). It is important to remember that every company has different priorities and these unique characteristics must be taken into account when filling every position.
At Spirit, we ensure that our recruiting efforts are thorough with the help of our I/O expert, Jill Geehr, PhD, who utilizes psychology to better inform us of this P-E fit. We work towards providing you with the best recruitment services by leveraging our resources in this field and making well-informed multifaceted decisions.
DO YOUR PE (fit) HOMEWORK
There is also work that should be completed on your end as the potential employee prior to applying for a position. Considering factors such as the job description, line of work, industry standards, and the specific organization will provide a well-rounded understanding of your compatibility in that specific role within the organization. Dedicating time to thoroughly researching the company can lead to increased clarity about the company’s workplace culture, not to mention expanding your preparation for the possible interview process. Aside from studying the company’s website, look at online reviews about the company and the specific position you’re considering. Doing your homework on the company can help reveal if the position will be right for you. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
When it comes to deciding where to work, it is critical to consider your P-E fit within both the virtual and in-person organizational environments. Doing so should be a main priority in order to increase the likelihood that you will have continued satisfaction in your role.
A better P-E fit means more work satisfaction for employer and employee. And satisfaction translates to productivity and success. But that’s a topic for another blog.
ABOUT SPIRIT CONSULTING
Spirit Consulting is a boutique management consulting firm with clients across multiple industries and regions of the United States. We offer expert consulting in Executive Search, Business Strategy, HR Consulting, Executive Coaching, and Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Rooted in our relational, client-tailored approach, these service lines work synergistically to maximize your organization’s potential. Call (630) 621-3411 or email [email protected] for more information on how Spirit Consulting can help create the best version of your business. If you are interested in applying to jobs we are retained on, please visit www.spiritmco.com.
Written by Shraddha Srinath and Alexis Scott.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
Ostroff, C. & Zhan, Y. (2012). Person–Environment Fit in the Selection Process. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199732579.013.0012.
Andela, M., & van der Doef, M. (2019). A Comprehensive Assessment of the Person–Environment Fit Dimensions and Their Relationships With Work-Related Outcomes. Journal of Career Development, 46(5), 567–582. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894845318789512