HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Organizational Commitment

Ever wonder how you can increase employee commitment in your company? Understanding organizational commitment is the first step to improving employee loyalty and workplace cohesion.

What Is Organizational Commitment?

Organizational commitment refers to the degree of loyalty employees feel toward an organization. In the field of industrial and organizational psychology, it is also known as the connection or attachment employees have with their organization.

Organizational Commitment vs Employee Engagement

Organizational commitment and employee engagement are similar, but differ in one key way. Employees who are committed to their organization feel connected and attached, while engaged employees have extrinsic and intrinsic factors keeping them motivated to work. Employees can be committed to the organization and still be mediocre performers.

Why Is Organizational Commitment Important?

Organizational commitment plays a role in many different aspects of managing people. It influences productivity, employee satisfaction, turnover, performance, culture, employee relations and many other components of an organization.
  • Improves organizational performance. A team functions more effectively when its members are committed to the cause they fight for. Similarly, in a working environment, members of an organization work more effectively together when each member cares about the mission and work being performed. A sense of comradery strengthens an organization as a whole to achieve more than individuals alone could.
  • Decreases turnover. Typically, employees who feel connected to their organization are less likely to leave when another job comes along. They feel a sense of loyalty and therefore less of a desire to leave. Additionally, often when employees feel loyal towards their organization, they feel increased guilt when considering leaving.
  • Increases productivity. While organizational commitment is not the same as employee engagement, it still plays a role in employee productivity. Generally, employees who are committed to the organization are motivated to produce quality work and more open to collaboration with team members.

Types of Organizational Commitment

There are three types of organizational commitment: affective, continuance, and normative commitment. In the field of industrial and organizational psychology, these types are referred to as stages. Back in 1991, the Three Component Model was designed to describe these three stages of organizational commitment and how an individual moves through them.

Affective Commitment

The first type of organizational commitment is affective, which refers to the affection one feels towards their organization. In this stage, employees are often engaged because they are eager, happy and passionate. Additionally in this stage, employees generally desire to play an active and purposeful role in their organization. Some refer to this early type of commitment as the “honeymoon phase” of working in an organization. Employees who exhibit affective commitment often:
  • Display motivation to produce quality work and make an impact
  • Offer suggestions and share valuable insights
  • Participate in team environments and meetings

Continuance Commitment

In the second type of organizational commitment, continuance commitment, employees determine if they will remain with the organization. This is often referred to as the “fear of loss” stage. Employees consider the implications of both remaining with and leaving the organization. They consider aspects such as their pension, the effort it will take to find a new role, and the career opportunities they have if they do not leave. Employees in this stage often:
  • Evaluate the work they have done so far and the impact they have had
  • Consider options outside of the organization
  • Examine the potential repercussions of leaving for themselves and the organization

Normative Commitment

Normative commitment is the last stage in organizational commitment. This is known as long-lasting commitment. Many employees in this stage remain loyal to the organization because they feel a sense of responsibility to do so. Common reasons employees remain loyal to an organization in the normative commitment stage include:
  • A felt need to reciprocate the generosity given them by the organization
  • The repercussions of leaving outweighing the consequences of staying
  • Having been treated well and respected by their organization
  • Seeing their value and feeling validated in their ability to make an impact

Factors That Affect Organizational Commitment

There are many factors that have an impact on organizational commitment, including employee empowerment, leadership support, leadership style, job satisfaction, and stability.

Employee Empowerment

When employers are able to create an atmosphere of empowerment for their employees, they improve job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Empowering employees includes trusting them, giving them the resources they need to succeed, and breaking down barriers that impede momentum.

Leadership Support and Style

Although each leader has their own leadership style, company culture can encourage leaders to behave or support employees in a specific way. For example, if a company standard is to “listen before speaking” and this is not only vocalized in leadership coaching but also emulated by top leadership, frontline leaders are more likely to adapt their leadership style to match the organization’s. Feeding supportive leadership styles and methods increases organizational commitment and job satisfaction.

Employee Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction plays a critical role in organizational commitment. When employees reach the continuance stage, they determine whether or not they wish to stay with the organization. If they feel satisfied with their role, they are more likely to move into the last stage, normative commitment, rather than leaving for another role.

How to Increase Organizational Commitment

Many employers wonder how to increase their employees’ commitment. It is no simple task to change the hearts and minds of those whose minds are already made up. However, there are a few key ways to increase organizational commitment.

Step 1: Provide a Safe Space

Creating a space where employees feel safe and well-respected helps them move toward the last stage of organizational commitment and remain loyal to the organization. One of the main reasons employees stay in the normative commitment stage is because they feel respected and valued by their organization. When employers allow open communication, recognize employees for their efforts, and treat them with respect, they provide a space where employees feel comfortable remaining loyal long-term.

Step 2: Develop Employees

Employee development is a hot topic in the HR world. When employees feel like they have a future with an organization, they are more likely to stick around. As previously mentioned, employees consider the potential career they may have if they stay with an organization as their organizational commitment develops.

Step 3: Cultivate a Positive Environment

Cultivating an environment of inclusivity and transparency also increases organizational commitment. People enjoy feeling like they belong - it’s human nature. People don’t feel they belong when they are excluded from conversations, activities or decisions. When organizations increase transparency and inclusivity, they encourage individuals to bring their whole selves to work, which in turn increases organizational commitment.
Raelynn Randall, MHR, MBA

Raelynn Randall, MHR, MBA

Rae has acquired HR experience in team leadership, research, training, recruiting, project management, and mentoring upcoming HR professionals. She is fascinated by workplace culture and the many implications it has on the world of business, especially HR. When possible, she seeks out opportunities to expand her knowledge and give back to her community.
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Accountability in the Workplace
Company Core Values
Company Mission
Company Personality
Company Purpose
Company Vision
Corporate Social Responsibility
Culture Add
Culture Audit
Culture Committee
Culture Fit
Culture Interview
Culture Strategy
Employee Loyalty
Mission, Vision and Values
Occupational Folklore
Open Door Policy
People-First Culture
Sustainability in the Workplace
Team Building Activities
Team Culture
Toxic Work Environment
Transparency in the Workplace
Workplace Culture
Workplace Diversity
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