Your Questions about the Workplace Alignment Assessment Answered
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 organization for the long run as a committed and engaged employee.
The Workplace Alignment Assessment asks candidates to describe their ideal workplace using a standardized 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 organizational profile that describes what the organization offers employees. By selecting candidates whose work preferences are aligned with what the organization 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 organizational environment. Multiple large-scale studies of person-organization alignment involving tens of thousands of individuals have shown that alignment is associated with:
- Increased commitment to the organization.
- Increased satisfaction with the job.
- Decreased likelihood of turnover.
- Increased tenure.
- Less distress at work.
Both employees and organizations 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 organization. This reduces distress and increases satisfaction. The organization benefits because the employees are more likely to remain committed and engaged in the organization 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 organizational 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 organizational 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 organization provides or emphasizes those work factors in the role.
The ranking task is simple, and intuitive, and can be completed 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.
Being able to apply relevant qualities and skills
Having the capacity to provide direction to others
Planning one’s work without significant involvement from Supervisors
Receiving remuneration that compared well with that of others
Experiencing harmonious relationships with colleagues
Having the capacity to trial one’s own ideas
Working independently of others
Working without pressure to compromise one’s moral ideals
Policies & procedures
Receiving fair and equitable treatment from the organization
Being acknowledged and credited for one’s achievements
Making decisions on one’s own
Encountering stability of employment
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
Having the capacity to do different things on a daily basis
Being provided with satisfactory conditions in which to undertake the work
What do reports look like?
Once both the candidate and the supervisor (or other organizational representative) have completed their ranking tasks, the WAA calculates the degree of alignment between the candidate’s preferences and the organizational environment. This degree of alignment is reported as a percentile figure. A percentile of 70%, for example, indicates that the degree of alignment between the candidate and the organization 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. This more detailed alignment map is useful in highlighting 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 the 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 the hiring manager to exploring the issue.
Who has used it? Which industries?
Customers across many different industries have used this assessment. They include customers in law, tech, health, retail, banking, accounting and mining.
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.
If we asked participants to rate, rather than rank, most factors would likely appear within the "Most" and "Very" important categories, which would make it difficult to make a distinction between these categories and resulting degree of interpretation. Organizations will naturally emphasize 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 the organization.
Who is best placed to complete the organizational profile?
In short, the organizational profile should be completed by someone who knows the role being recruited for, and the organization, 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 organization 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 may have had longer tenure (not always the case), and their experience of the company is potentially quite rich (they are likely both a supervisor and a supervisee, so have insight into how things operate in the business)
If the organization is recruiting for different positions, they should create separate organizational profiles for each job, since the degree to which each work factor is emphasized may vary from one position to another. For example, having the opportunity to advance up the organization's hierarchy (the Advancement factor) may be emphasized in many positions within the organization, but might not be as important in other roles.
If they are recruiting for different positions that have very similar work environments, it might be appropriate to use the same organizational 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) emphasized 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 organization 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 organization. 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.