HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts

The Psychology of Recruiting with Margarida Rafael, Workzinga

March 31, 2022 The HR Gazette Season 1 Episode 417
HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts
The Psychology of Recruiting with Margarida Rafael, Workzinga
Show Notes Transcript

In this HRchat episode, we delve into the psychology of hiring. Listen as Bill's guest offers an analysis of company culture fit and its positive impact on employees - such as levels of productivity or creativity

Our guest today is Margarida Rafael. Margarida is originally from Lisbon, Portugal. She moved to Chicago to get her masters and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology. Her clinical experience in administration and development of a variety of psychological tests culminated in a full-time dedication to research in the industrial and organizational field. 

She is currently the head of psychological sciences at Workzinga, a job search and hiring platform emphasizing company culture fit. Margarida works as a researcher and assessment content creator. She continues to see patients in her own private practice for therapy and psychological assessments.

Questions Include

  • What trends are you seeing regarding mental health, wellbeing of employees and its connection to workplace satisfaction?
  • What do we know about cultural fit and its positive impacts on employees, such as levels of productivity or creativity?
  • Remote teams: As more people are working remotely, how can we create workplace culture where people are not necessarily meeting in person or sharing a common workplace?
  • What are we learning from new generations entering the workforce when it comes to an employee's identity? In what way can a job or company shape or reflect one’s identity?
  • Something that everyone seems to be talking about is the Great Resignation. What do you think caused it?
  • Why do you believe culture fit is the most critical component driving employee satisfaction and retention? What data do you have to support this?

 If you enjoyed this interview you may also want to check out episode 404 with Margarida's colleague, Dan Hunter.



We do our best to ensure editorial objectivity. The views and ideas shared by our guests and sponsors are entirely independent of The HR Gazette, HRchat Podcast, and Iceni Media Inc.  






Speaker 1:

Welcome to the HR chat podcast, bringing the best of the HR and talent communities to you .

Speaker 2:

Welcome to another episode of the HR chap show. I'm your host today, bill Banham . And in this episode, we're gonna delve into the psychology of hiring. Listen, as my guest offers, analysis of company culture fits and its positive impacts on employees, such as levels of productivity and creativity. My guest today is margarita Raphael. Margarita is originally from beautiful Lisbon Portugal, and she moved to Chicago to get her master's in doctorate degrees in clinical psychology, her clinical experience in administration and development of a variety of psychological tests culminated in a full-time dedication to research in the industrial and organizational field. She is currently the head of psychological sciences at work zinger, a job search and hiring platform that emphasizes company culture fits their margarita works as a researcher and assessment content creator. She continues to see patients in her own private practice for therapy and psychological assessments. By the way, listeners, if you enjoy this interview, you may also wanna check out episode 4 0 4 with Margarita's colleague Dan hunter margarita. Welcome to the show today,

Speaker 3:

Bill, thank you so much for such a wonderful introduction. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

And we're gonna get straight into the hard hitting questions around the psychology of recruiting and making sure that there's a genuine company culture fit and so on. Um, to begin, what trends are you seeing regarding mental health wellbeing of employees and its connection to workplace satisfaction?

Speaker 3:

I, you know, I feel like this conversation about mental health in workplace has been boiling , um, and has been happening for a while and even prior to the pandemic, but the disruption in routine that we all experienced in the last two years, I don't need to go much into that precipitated this urgency around this conversation, right? The stake have been raised high and as a researcher, what I'm saying is almost always supported by statistics. Um, so really when talking about trends, the trends we're seeing regarding mental health, we can think from a company level, you know, so for companies there's been as an , an increased concern over incorporating mental health programs and also services to their employees, right? Look at these numbers, bill 86% of companies in 2020. And this was at the end of 2020 when we're already confined. And whatnot said that mental health became a higher priority in comparison to previous years while 54% of employees now expect. And rightly so, I would say that mental health is supported and then mental health support is offered in the workplace while this being said. And to answer your question, I would say that the first main trend is the normalization of mental health in the workplace. And this normalization is way and well beyond a conversation in the HR department. When I talk about normalization, what I'm really trying to get at is widespread disclosure , um, where more employees are talking about mental health within themselves , uh, and also leaving for mental health reasons. Another trend that I'm thinking here and that we are seeing is the focus on workplace cultures that promote a healthy work environment. There's a growing concern and awareness regarding company culture, which in a way requires companies to take on the real challenge of changing workplace culture. I mean, you tell me bill, how many people have you interviewed? How many people in your friend circle , um, in workplace settings have been talking about workplace culture, and that's not just a trend topic in conversations. This change in this change is in, in fact, happening on both fronts from top down and also bottom up. And what I mean by that is that leaders are treating mental health as a priority. While on the other hand, there's been an investment in training of all professionals and all workers that are not in leadership positions to establish a psychological safety. So as I was saying, normalization of mental health is a trend that I see. Number two is a focus on workplace culture. And number three is flexibility. And yes, flexibility is definitely a consequence of the lockdowns of the confinement of the pandemic that we experienced for over two years. So flexible policies at work, not just about mental health, but about work styles and preferences, flexibility, where employees are given options is one of the main trends.

Speaker 2:

Okay, thank you. And, and all three of those that you just spoke about there, they could all, I guess, kind of live under the umbrella of company culture and what , what a culture stands for and , uh, how it wants to treat its people and reward and recognize and , and sometimes help its employees. What do we, what do we know about cultural fits and its positive impacts on employees such as levels of productivity or, or creativity?

Speaker 3:

So what we know , uh, based on a number of recent studies is that employees who share their company's values and employees who fit with their company's culture have higher job satisfaction, have superior job performance and greater retention, meaning that they stay at this company longer. That's what we know. They stay at this company longer and they're better at their job now, is this a surprise to anyone? Um, I'm not sure, but let me just give you some statistics to back this up because in August of last year work Zinga conducted a , a pretty big survey , um, of 2,500 fulltime employed and unemployed us adults. And you know, all our, the , the , the sample population was across all genders ages, ethnicities. We had a very good representation of the population. And what we noticed is that a good cultural fit was among the top three most important factors that people employed and unemployed checked when considering a job, right? So when asked why good fit on company culture is important. What we saw was that close to three fifths of these people said that they're more likely to stay with an employer if it aligned with their culture. Now, we also can look at things on the other hand, right? So poor cultural fit also leads to higher employee turnover rates when there's not a good cultural fit between a , an individual and a company. We noticed that the largest share of respondents state or really had plans to stay with that employer for only one, two years maximum, right? So in a way, being in a job, that's not a good cultural fit, negatively impacts a worker's productivity, motivation, mental wellbeing, as we were just talking about and creativity at work.

Speaker 2:

Wonderful. This is why I love doing this pod , cuz I learn as I go along. Um, Hey, let's talk a bit about remote teams. Okay. So as more people are working remotely now than , than ever before and um, long way that continued , but I've been working remotely on and off for many, many, many years now. So since before I was gray , um, but as , as more people are working remotely, how can we create workplace cultures where people are not necessarily meeting a person or sharing a common workplace, but they do still feel like there's a , a common thread that they understand their collective simony term . Why, you know, how , how can we ensure that

Speaker 3:

Great question? And I mean, I feel like this is one of the questions that , um, even my friends ask me the most and the reason why is because on one hand, everyone's talking about company culture, but on the other hand, more and more people are working in a hybrid environment or remotely altogether. So yes, as you were saying, as the number of people working from home increased , how can company culture still be established? Now, bill, it is a mistake to think that company culture requires a physical environment to exist, right? I mean, again, there are many different cultures and there's not one correct or right culture. There is some, there are some factors there are fundamental to maintain when keeping a remote workplace culture. So I would tell you that number one is to invest in communication, not only in group communication, when you have a meeting of 10 to 20 people, but also scheduling one on one conversations to find out how people are doing, make it personable, you know, know how they're doing. What's the experience like working remotely, there, anything that they need mentoring or budding programs , um, when it comes to communication also tend to work very well. Um, when we are working towards establishing a workplace culture remotely. So there's in a way a sense of accountability of responsibility when this communication is more personable and one to one now, other than investment in communication, I would say that number two is setting boundaries. I know this may sound strange because boundaries is not what we always talk about when we discuss workplace culture or , um, work in general. But when you work remotely, it's easier to get the boundaries and the needs blurred with employees, right? So question yourself, are we communicating outside of work hours? What's the time zone that our employees are working in? What are the expectations? You know, having these guiding questions in mind to set and respect boundaries of everyone involved. Another thing that is also important is to clarify job roles. What are the job duties of each person for the company? What are the responsibilities? What are deliverables? What communication channels are we using? Are we strictly communicating over teams over slack? Are we using WhatsApp or are we using text messaging? You know? So in a way, these boundaries not just reinforce everyone's psychological safety, but also establish what the company culture is about. Valuing the company and yes, respecting each member of , um, the company and number three, in addition to setting boundaries in communication, I would tell you, it is trust. Trust is absolutely fundamental, but in a remote community, it's absolutely imperative to have shared trust amongst all employees, leadership workers, everyone trusting rela relationships and candid conversations. I will tell you are the backbone of cultures that demonstrate open , honest communication , even when everyone is working remotely. Now when I'm having this conversation, I also make , uh, a suggestion. So in addition to the three factors that I mentioned, trust setting boundaries and investing in communication, there's usually a suggest , a suggest, a suggestion, I'm sorry that I find to be quite important. And that is to establish company or team rituals and what rituals do for us and for companies there , there are in , you know, ensuring a good and healthy workplace culture is that rituals enforce a feeling of belonging. They strengthen the team, they value relationships. They value the individuals. And in a way it helps everyone feeling like they're working within a strong and safe company culture.

Speaker 2:

Okay . Thank you very much. Those were amazing and very thorough answers. I'm now gonna , uh, mix things up a little bit and uh , for the next, for the next couple of questions and answers, I'd like you to try and tackle my questions in 60 seconds or less what bill, that's impossible. I've got so much to say, well, that's the challenge. That's what I like to do in my interview sometimes. Um, and the next one, the next question I'd like to talk to you a little bit about is , uh, is around , uh, the , the new folk coming to the workforce, the , the cool kids , the , um, the , the gen Zs, and then, you know, the generation after that in a few years, what , what are we, what are we learning from these gen Zs entering the workforce at the moment when it comes to an individual's identity, an employee's iden identity, are there other ways that maybe a job or a company reflects, or maybe even shapes one iden one's identity

Speaker 3:

60 seconds? OK , let me see . I like to talk , but you know, it's a good question. It's interesting to see how different generations have preferences for different values and obviously different cultures in the workplace. Right? So very briefly, going back to that survey that I was telling you that works single conducted at , um, in the summer of last year, we did measure the differences between generations across a number of factors and look how interesting it is to see how younger generations tend to like, and have a preference for workplace cultures that were less favored by older generations. And when, I mean less favored, I mean, that millennials prefer a culture of risk taking as opposed to gen axis . Um, and as opposed to baby boomers who usually opt for a safety type of workplace safe and hierarchical, right? So in a way it's easy to speculate how these preferences are closely tied to a shared identity of generations. Um, right. What we're learning in a way, is that a new and the new generation entering the workforce are valuing having a choice they're valuing intrinsic motivation. They want, and they demand flexibility to choose the workplace culture that they want to be in. And that's more important to them than safety and stability that was preferred by older generations. And I mean, one very , um, simple example of that is to see how younger generations move jobs after just a , you know, a few years in comparison to older generations , uh, who stayed in the same job for their entire life. Uh , oftentimes

Speaker 2:

Okay. Almost perfect if it wasn't for that last example, that definitely would've been 60 seconds, but it was a good answer. Nonetheless. <laugh> <laugh> um , okay. So , uh, something that we talk about a lot on this show, and I'm , I'm sure you won't be surprised is, is the great resignation because it's impacting so many things right now. Um, I'd be , I'd love to get your perspective, you know, as , as , as someone who is , uh, grounded within the discipline of psychology, what , what , what , what do you think caused it? What , what , what do you see as some of the big contributing factors? And I wonder if any of those are different to the mainstream factors that people have been speaking about. Um, and again, though, I would like to challenge you to answer in 60 seconds or less.

Speaker 3:

Um , and I've been listening to your podcast bill , so I'm gonna try not to repeat myself. I don't want to repeat what , um, any other guests have have said before, but here's the thing, it's no coincidence that great resignation began when it did, right? Remind you that it happened or began between April and June of 2021 . When we were reaching a peak of global exhaustion after living under a worldwide pandemic and confined for over a year already. Right. Um, and it was a pandemic that may I , may I re remind everyone altered every single component of our daily lives. And when, I mean daily lives, I mean, daily routines, professional lives, personal life . So this was a time when the great resignation started. It was a time of seasonal optimism combined with exhaustion. That was the follower year of lockdowns distributed to a massive and sudden search in demand for goods and services that everyone was not receiving before. Right? So one year into pandemic, we know that certain industries were hit harder than others leaving far more way more open positions than people willing to work for them. So yes, employers were now competing for candidates because there were, and in a way there still are four more open slots than job applicants. Workers are smart enough to recognize this and not just this, but remember we are one year into a pandemic. People have been confined socially distanced working from home. And the reason why I'm emphasizing this isolation is because from a psychological perspective, it was this isolation that precipitated a greater reflection, people waking up and thinking what's important for me, what do I need to feel fulfilled? Am I working for this company? That's doing enough for me? What do I need? They're no longer just working for a good salary on okay. Benefits because there's way more job openings than, than , uh, workers willing to work for that. So think of the great resignation also as the great reflection.

Speaker 2:

I'm just greatly reflecting on your answer there. Thank you very much. Hey , we're running out of time already, but I do wanna ask you just a couple more questions for today . Uh , my next one is why do you believe culture fit is the most critical component when driving employee satisfaction and retention. And as part of that , do you have any data to support your findings and your , and your feelings ?

Speaker 3:

Yes. As a researcher, I do have the data bill, but here's the thing skills are teachable, but characteristics that align with company culture are not necessarily necessarily teachable. If your core values are not aligned with the company's values from the beginning, it's unlikely that the company employee relationship will work out in the long run, right? So as people have gained increased awareness about importance of workplace culture, I mean, you and I have spent a , a great , uh, amount of time speaking about that today. People are also feeling empowered to make decisions for themselves. People are looking for what is best for them. And culture fit is the most important factor because in a way, culture fit is an umbrella that encompasses a lot of different factors. Company culture is not just about one specific trait or one tiny pre preference company. Culture includes many different things, right? So the question about culture fit being the most critical component, driving employee satisfac satisfaction and retention, as you were asking, is so important that needs to be backed up with data. Let me, let me tell you , um, from that survey, they'll be conducted in August of 2021. What we found was that individuals employed and unemployed remind you gravitate towards different workplace cultures and not just one company culture, that's the perfect fit for any perspective employee, right? So different people prefer different things. For example, Americans who are employed or unemployed, but looking for work are pretty split between a working part environment that's flexible or one offering clear structures and policies. So it's like almost 50 50. Some people prefer flexible policies and some prefer clear structures. Now the same goes for collaborative environments with lots of teamwork in comparison to people who prefer to work independently. Right? So one thing that's considered important though, across everyone employed and employed genders and generations is culture fit nine, 10 Americans who are employed or an employed, but looking for work considered good culture fit to be the most important when considering a new job, despite the difference in values, despite the difference in teamwork or preference or leadership, good culture fit remains amongst nine out of 10 Americans.

Speaker 2:

I love it. How you finished that answer with a good, hard solid stat . And just finally for today, how can our listeners , uh, learn more about work Z ? In fact, I'm gonna put a link into the show notes . So I've answered that one, but , um, also how can they connect with you? Is that through LinkedIn? Would you like to share your email address? Are you all over Twitter and various other social platforms?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Uh , you can find me on LinkedIn and you can also find me on works Inga , um, dot com when you ask and learn more about our company

Speaker 2:

Rock and roll . Well, that was wonderful. Um, I have learned lots of new things today and, and I just wanna say to you, thank you so much for being my guest on this episode of the HHL chat show .

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for having me, bill ,

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to the HR podcast , brought to you by the HR Caz.