Your questions about Workplace Alignment Assessment answered

Updated 7 months ago by Amy Tranter

What is the Workplace Alignment Assessment (WAA)?

The ideal candidate isn't just someone who will excel in their job; you need someone who will stick with your organisation for the long run as a committed and engaged employee.

The Workplace Alignment Assessment asks candidates to describe their ideal workplace using a standardised set of 20 work factors. For example, do they value job security over advancement? Or recognition over compensation? The assessment compares these preferences to an organisational profile that describes what the organisation offers employees. By selecting candidates whose work preferences are aligned with what the organisation provides, you’ll build a more engaged, satisfied, and committed workforce.

Why assess for Workplace Alignment?

The Workplace Alignment Assessment (WAA) draws on over sixty years of research demonstrating the benefits of alignment between an individual’s preferences and the organisational environment. Multiple large-scale studies of person-organisation alignment involving tens of thousands of individuals have shown that alignment is associated with:

  • Increased commitment to the organisation.
  • Increased satisfaction with the job.
  • Decreased likelihood of turnover.
  • Increased tenure.
  • Less distress at work.

Both employees and organisations benefit when alignment is considered in the hiring process. Employees benefit because they are more likely to find that their most important workplace needs are met within the organisation. This reduces distress and increases satisfaction. The organisation benefits because the employees are more likely to remain committed and engaged in the organisation for longer periods.

How does the WAA work?

The WAA focuses on 20 key work factors that have been shown to be important drivers of organisational commitment and satisfaction. The work factors addressed in the WAA are based on the Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment and are aligned with the work factors used to describe occupations in the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET® database.

Because the WAA evaluates alignment between a candidate’s preferences and the organisational environment, it is a two-sided assessment.

Candidates sort the 20 work factors into five importance categories, based on how important they are to them in their ideal job.

The supervisor of the job that the successful candidate will be placed in sorts the same 20 work factors into five importance categories, based on the extent to which the organisation provides or emphasises those work factors in the role.

The ranking task is simple, and intuitive, and candidates can complete it on any device, including mobile devices. It is an untimed task and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

What are the 20 work factors?

The full list of the WAA work factors and their definitions is provided below. 

Work Factor 

Description 

Ability utilisation 

Being able to apply relevant qualities and skills  

Achievement 

Gaining a sense of accomplishment from work 

Activity 

Being continually occupied with work tasks  

Advancement 

Having opportunities to advance up the organisation's hierarchy 

Authority 

Having the capacity to provide direction to others 

Autonomy 

Planning one’s work without significant involvement from Supervisors  

Compensation 

Receiving remuneration that compared well with that of others 

Co-workers 

Experiencing harmonious relationships with colleagues 

Creativity 

Having the capacity to trial one’s own ideas 

Independence 

Working independently of others 

Moral values 

Working without pressure to compromise one’s moral ideals 

Policies & procedures 

Receiving fair and equitable treatment from the organisation 

Recognition 

Being acknowledged and credited for one’s achievements 

Responsibility 

Making decisions on one’s own 

Security 

Encountering stability of employment 

Social service 

Having the ability to provide assistance to others 

Supervision – relations 

Receiving support from Supervisors when dealing with management 

Supervision – technical 

Receiving comprehensive training from Supervisors 

Variety 

Having the capacity to do different things on a daily basis 

Working conditions 

Being provided with satisfactory conditions in which to undertake the work 

 

What does the WAA report look like?

Once both the candidate and the supervisor have completed their ranking tasks, the WAA calculates the degree of alignment between your candidate’s preferences and your organisational environment. This degree of alignment is reported as a percentile figure. A percentile of 70%, for example, indicates that the degree of alignment between your candidate and your organisation is higher than 70% of other likely candidates.

The WAA report also provides a detailed breakdown of alignment levels across each of the 20 work factors. You can use this to highlight work factors where there is a potential unmet need. For example, if a candidate has indicated that they highly value the opportunity to work independently of others, but your workplace does not provide this kind of work, then the report will highlight this area as a potential source of misalignment. The report will also provide suggested interview questions to assist you with exploring the issue.

Click here to view an example report.

Unfortunately, WAA has not been included in our recommended test batteries at this time. You can add WAA to any custom test battery in your Criteria account.

It can be used for any position, but it's particularly relevant if you are making a significant investment in candidates, such as hiring for graduate roles/making campus hires, looking to hire your future leaders, or wanting people who will pursue a long-term career path with your organisation. Candidates who will feel a sense of belonging to your organisation will want to stay for the long term, and people whose most important work preferences and values are closely aligned to your organisation's are more likely to do so.

Candidates might think that all 20 factors are important. Why ask them to rank them?

The WAA specifically ask candidates to rank, rather than rate, those work factors they feel are most important to them, e.g. they may perceive a steady and secure work environment to be more important than perhaps being able to undertake a variety of tasks throughout the day. This is not to say that they do not value variety, only that they value security greater than variety.

Your organisation will naturally emphasise some things more than others in the workplace, so it’s important to understand a candidate’s top preferences to see how they match with your organisation.

Who is best placed to complete the Work Factors Profile?

In short, the Work Factors Profile should be completed by someone who knows the role being recruited for, and the organisation, well. The position supervisor is often the best person for this job, for a couple of reasons:

  • They are likely to reinforce to their supervisees what they perceive the organisation to value. Their close relationship with their supervisees means that they act as a “filter” of their supervisee’s experience of the company.
  • Given their supervisory responsibility, they may have had longer tenure, and their experience of the company is potentially quite rich, so have insight into how things operate in the business.

If you are recruiting for different positions, you should create separate Profiles for each job, since the degree to which each work factor is emphasised may vary from one position to another. For example, having the opportunity to advance up the organisation’s hierarchy (the Advancement factor) may be emphasised in many positions within the organisation, but might not be as important in other roles.

If you are recruiting for different positions that have very similar work environments, it might be appropriate to use the same organisational profile for all jobs. In this case, we recommend asking the supervisors for the different positions to use the WAA worksheet to reach a consensus on which factors are most (and least) emphasised by these roles.

There's a talent shortage at the moment. Why would I want to add more testing to my process?

Smart employers know there's a talent shortage, but rather than just focusing on getting people in the door, you're focusing on ensuring you're providing a workplace that meets your employees' needs and encourages them to stick around for longer. You want to demonstrate to your current and potential employees that you care about your employees' wellbeing and do everything you can to promote it. And you know that if you don't, people will leave and it will be very difficult to replace them.

The WAA is a great tool in your arsenal of firstly, identifying candidates whose needs will be met by your organisation and will thus be more likely to be committed and engaged and stay longer, and secondly, demonstrating to the talent market that you take these things seriously.

The results are also incredibly useful for onboarding new employees, since they help you to understand any areas of potential shortfall - i.e. factors that the employee values highly but which are not strongly promoted by your organisation. This can help hiring managers to look at ways to compensate for any mismatches to better meet the employees' needs and help them feel more valued.

Where can I go to learn more?

Click on the links below to view our resources for this assessment.

Workplace Alignment Assessment

Using the Workplace Alignment Assessment

If you have any additional questions about the Workplace Alignment Assessment, please feel free to reach out to your Customer Success Manager or the Customer Support Team for advice and assistance.  


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