Work Environment Scale


Authors: Rudolf H. Moos & Paul M. Insel

The Work Environment Scale (WES) measures the social environment of all types of work settings. It comprises ten subscales or dimensions, which are divided into three sets: the Relationship Dimensions, the Personal Growth or Goal Orientation dimensions, and the System Maintenance and System Change dimensions.

The WES can be used to describe workplace social environments, contrast employees’ and managers’ views of their work groups, and compare actual and preferred work environments. Individual employees’ perceptions of a work group can be compared with one another. The WES can also be used to facilitate counseling and career planning and help formulate clinical case descriptions. In addition, the WES has some important applications for program evaluation. The WES can help to plan and monitor change in work settings, evaluate the impact of intervention programs, and promote improvement in the workplace.

The WES is available in three forms. Form R measures an employee's perception of the work environment; Form I (Ideal) measures the ideal workplace goals and values your employee holds; Form E (Expected) assesses an employee's work environment expectations. Administration of a single form (R, I, or E) is counted as an administration, while administration of all three forms one time is counted as three administrations.

Copyright © 1974 by Rudolf H. Moos

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Features of the WES

Purpose: Measure the social environment in work settings to evaluate productivity, assess employee satisfaction, and clarify employee expectations.

Length: 90 items

Average completion time: 25-30 minutes

Target population: Working adults

Administration: For individual or group administration

Uses of the WES

  • Diagnose problems in a work group
  • Organizational change planning
  • Program evaluation
  • Leadership change measurement and development
  • Team building and development
  • Identify risks in work climate such as high absenteeism, high turnover, or poor work quality


Relationship Dimensions
The first three dimensions measured by the WES are the Relationship Dimensions, which assess how committed employees are to their jobs, how friendly the employees are, and how supportive they are of each other, and how supportive managers are of employees.

The Involvement subscale measures the extent to which employees are concerned about and committed to their jobs, for example: how challenging the work is, the pride people have in the organization, and the effort they put into what they do.

Coworker Cohesion
The Coworker cohesion subscale taps the extent to which employees are friendly and supportive of one another, for example: the effort people make to help a new employee feel comfortable, the interest they have in each other, and how frank they are about their feelings.

Supervisor Support
The Supervisor Support subscale assesses the extent to which management is supportive of employees and encourages them to be supportive of one another, for example: how often supervisors compliment an employee who does something well, how often they give full credit to the ideas contributed by employees, and whether employees feel free to ask for a raise.

Personal Growth or Goal Orientation Dimensions
The Personal Growth, or Goal Orientation, subscales make up another set of WES dimensions. This set focuses on the emphasis on independence, getting the job done, and job demands. These dimensions include the Autonomy, Task Orientation and Work Pressure subscales. All three subscales contribute to a description of the work setting’s goal orientation; Autonomy and Task Orientation tap personal growth dimensions as well.

The Autonomy subscale measures the extent to which employees are encouraged to be self-sufficient and to make their own decisions, for example: how much freedom employees have to do as they like, how much they are encouraged to make their own decisions, and whether people can use their own initiative to do things.

Task Orientation
The Task Orientation subscale taps the degree of emphasis on good planning, efficiency, and getting the job done, for example: how much attention people pay to getting work done, how often things get “put off until tomorrow,” and how efficient and task-oriented the workplace is.

Work Pressure
The Work Pressure subscale assesses the degree to which the pressure of work and time urgency dominate the job milieu, for example: how much time pressure there is to keep working, how often there seems to be an urgency about everything, and whether people can afford to relax.

System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions
The System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions , the last set of dimensions measured by the WES, assess the work setting’s emphasis on rules and policies and on variety and innovation; it also taps the pleasantness of the physical setting. The four subscales in this domain are Clarity, Control, Innovation, and Physical Comfort.

The Clarity subscale taps the extent to which employees know what to expect in their daily routine and how explicitly rules and policies are communicated, for example: how well activities are planned, how clearly the responsibilities of supervisors are defined, and how well the details of assigned jobs are explained to employees.

The Control subscale assesses the extent to which management uses rules and pressures to keep employees under control, for example: how much following policies and regulations is emphasized, whether people are expected to follow set rules in doing their work, and how closely supervisors watch employees.

The Innovation subscale measures the degree of emphasis on variety, changes, and new approaches, for example: whether doing things in a different way is valued, whether new and different ideas are tried out, and whether the place is one of the first to try out a new idea.

Physical Comfort
The Physical Comfort subscale measures the extent to which the physical surroundings contribute to a pleasant work environment, for example: how good the lighting is, how stylish and modern the place appears, and whether the colors and decorations make it a warm and cheerful place in which to work.

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Available with WES License to Reproduce and Remote Online Survey License:
These translations are available free of charge with your purchase of the license. Each PDF file contains the English forms and the translated forms on separate pages. To order, select your language from the Translation drop-down list on the product page. Need multiple translations? Contact us.

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