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Half of working Canadians have trouble fitting in at work


A new poll by IPSOS Reid suggests that half of working Canadians have trouble fitting in at work and one in three find it difficult to concentrate at work because they are dragged down by a negative atmosphere.

“Workers aged 18 to 34 are much more likely (37 per cent) than those aged 35 to 54 (30 per cent) or those aged 55 or more (20 per cent) to believe they’re dragged down by a negative atmosphere at work,” says Sean Simpson of IPSOS Reid.

The study also indicates that 50 per cent of working Canadians don’t think they always fit in well at work. More than one in 10 (12 per cent) say they feel like an outsider, with 9 per cent saying they don’t fit well ‘within their workplace’s culture,’ and another 3 per cent think they are complete misfits, saying they ‘hate’ the culture and ‘don’t fit in at all.’

“Younger workers are also more likely to be disappointed with their work experience than those who are older,” says Simpson. “Among those under 35, more than a quarter (28 per cent) say their experience is worse than they expected versus just 10 per cent of workers 55 and older.”

Gail Rieschi, president and CEO of HR services firm vpi Inc., says employers should place a higher priority on hiring people who are a good match with the corporate culture, as well as having the technical qualifications for the job.

“While most people are hired for their hard skills, a bad fit with the corporate culture can often lead to dissatisfaction at work,” says Rieschi. “It is critical that employers pay close attention to how well potential candidates will fit within the organization, not just their experience and skills.”

Rieschi offers some advice to help employers hire people who will fit within the organization.

1.  Know your company’s personality

When employers know their business personality and organizational values, they can better understand what kinds of people will work well within the company. “The most effective way to identify your organizational personality is to conduct an objective assessment, carried out by a third-party evaluator,” says Rieschi. “Employers can also do self-assessments by developing a questionnaire that can be completed by employees at all levels as well as by a sampling of clients.”  Questions should centre around decision making processes, work routines, organizational procedures and dress code among others. Once the questionnaires are completed, the responses can be used to develop a working document that defines the company personality.

2. Determine employee suitability

Once organizational values are clearly known, situational interview questions designed to measure fit can be developed that are unique to the organization. There are also many commercially available assessments that can help identify job candidates’ work values and work personality and measure them against those of the organization. Work simulations and work trials designed to identify work values, rather than just technical competency, can also help the selection process.

Rieschi says employers should pay close attention to how young people are affected by a negative workplace given the large numbers of older workers retiring in the next 10 years. “The battle for talent has already started and it will only intensify in the coming years,” says Rieschi. “Young people entering the labour market will increasingly have many work options. To attract and retain talent, employers must be attuned to their needs and understand if they fit well within the organization.”

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