Why it is Important for Employees to Fit the Organizational Culture

When considering a new position at a new firm, we often try to predict how well we will fit with that company. We consider how well our own goals align with those of the company (person-organization fit), how well we could get along with the people we would potentially be working closely with (person-group fit), and how well the demands of the actual position line up with our own unique skills and abilities (person-job fit). These three considerations combine to formulate a more holistic picture of how well we will fit in within a potential work setting (person-environment fit).


Finding a good fit can be easier for some than for others. In a study of Chinese workers, (Wang, Zhan, McCune, & Truxillo, 2011) investigated how new employees’ adaptability influenced their likelihood of perceiving fit within organizations. Adaptability also isn’t a “one size fits all” concept; different types of adaptability were uniquely related to specific aspects of fit. The more flexible and broad-minded someone is with new people, termed interpersonal adaptability, the more apt he or she is to experience person-group fit. Cultural adaptability, describing active attempts to assimilate into various cultures, fostered greater person-organization fit. Those who are willing to participate and adjust themselves to fit within the culture at their workplaces seem to also feel more as though the organization’s goals represent some of their own goals.

The researchers checked up on employees’ satisfaction, performance, and turnover two months after these newcomers began their new jobs. They discovered that perceived fit was related to these work-related outcomes. When employees express greater person-environment fit, not only did they experience greater satisfaction with their jobs, but also had better performance ratings (as assessed by their bosses), and were less likely to turnover.


Newcomers with greater adaptability may make the transition into new roles more easily. However, managers can’t hire on the sole basis of adaptability; more knowledge and skills may make the less adaptable candidate the better person for the job. In this case, managers can make active attempts to ensure that their new-hire experiences greater person-environment fit. The more employees feel at home, the more satisfied and productive they will be and the less likely they will be to leave the company.


Wang, M., Zhan, Y., McCune, E., & Truxillo, D. (2011). Understanding newcomers’ adaptability and work-related outcomes: Testing the mediating roles of perceived P-E fit variables. Personnel Psychology, 64(1), 163-189.