Organizational Commitment

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What Does Organizational Commitment Mean?

Organizational Commitment (OC) is the psychological attachment and the resulting loyalty of employees to an organization, based on the pride of being part of the organization and the belief that their organization values them.

Organizational Commitment is part of the field of organizational behavior which defines, explains, and humanizes the reasons behind organizational employee commitment.[1]

High levels of organizational commitment are related to superior business performance, increased profitability, improved productivity, employee retention, customer satisfaction metrics, reduced customer churn, and above all improving the workplace culture. That’s the level of commitment an organization would expect from its employees.

There are various definitions of organizational commitment one been as the desire on the part of the employee to make high efforts for the good of the institution, longing to remain in it and accept its main objectives and values (Porter and Lawer, 1965). Another widely accepted definition is that of Greenberg and Baron (2008) who define organizational commitment as the degree to which employees identify with the organization where they work, the degree of commitment they show, and whether they are willing to leave it. In research related to organizational engagement, three different perspectives can be distinguished. The first one is born from the perspective of social exchange, where the commitment of the individual to the organization is the result of the small investments that he or she has made over time and that would stop his or her voluntary disengagement from the organization (Becker, 1960). This perspective was later developed by Meyer and Allen (1991, 1997) where it was called Commitment to Continuity (CC).

All in all, organizational commitment is about assessing what motivates employees to stay with employers. Taking the time to understand the nature of these motivators and to what degree they exist within a given company can often help businesses minimize the amount of employee turnover by providing insight into how to make changes in the corporate culture that allow those employees to feel invested in the business. The employer benefits from saving a great deal of money on new employee training can often cross-train valued employees to fill key positions that open in the future, and benefits from the collective experience that only comes with long-time employees.

Types of Organizational Commitment[2]

Also known as the “Three Component Model of Commitment” there are three distinct types of organizational commitment:

Affective commitment relates to how much employees want to stay at their organization. If an employee is affectively committed to their organization, it means that they want to stay at their organization. They typically identify with the organizational goals, feel that they fit into the organization, and are satisfied with their work. Employees who are effectively committed feel valued, act as ambassadors for their organization and are generally great assets for organizations.

Continuance commitment relates to how much employees feel the need to stay at their organization. In employees that are continuance committed, the underlying reason for their commitment lies in their need to stay with the organization. Possible reasons for needing to stay with organizations vary, but the main reasons relate to a lack of work alternatives and remuneration. A good example of continuance commitment is when employees feel the need to stay with their organization because their salary and fringe benefits won’t improve if they move to another organization. Such examples can become an issue for organizations as employees that are continuance committed may become dissatisfied (and disengaged) with their work and yet, are unwilling to leave the organization.

Normative commitment relates to how much employees feel they should stay at their organization. Employees that are normatively committed generally feel that they should stay at their organizations. Normatively committed employees to feel that leaving their organization would have disastrous consequences, and feel a sense of guilt about the possibility of leaving. Reasons for such guilt vary but are often concerned with employees feeling that in leaving the organization they would create a void in knowledge/skills, which would subsequently increase the pressure on their colleagues. Such feelings can and do negatively influence the performance of employees working in organizations.

Types of Organizational Commitment

Factors Influencing Organzational Commitment[3]

Several factors can influence organizational commitment within an employee.

  • Job satisfaction: Job satisfaction refers to how much an employee enjoys their work. When employees like their job, they are more likely to develop a stronger connection to their organization. A study conducted by Dirani and Kuchinke (2011) indicated a strong correlation between job commitment and job satisfaction and found that satisfaction is a reliable indication of commitment. In fact, one of the top reasons employees leave their job is job dissatisfaction, which means ensuring employees are happy and enjoying their work should be a top priority in all organizations.
  • Managerial support: A study by Hulpia et al. (2009) examined the correlation between the distribution of leadership and leadership support among teachers, with job satisfaction and commitment. The results demonstrated that a higher amount of leadership support and cohesion led to an increase in organizational commitment. Employees that are well supported are more likely to feel happy at work, and therefore more motivated and productive. The study also showed that when leaders distribute leadership responsibilities out to other workers, this increases job satisfaction and commitment instead of all the leadership resting on one person.
  • Role stress and role ambiguity: When an employee receives conflicting requests from managers (role conflict comes into play) or experiences a lack of information to complete a task (role ambiguity), this is likely to cause role stress. Stress can lead to a decrease in performance, productivity, and satisfaction, and an increase in the probability of the employee leaving the organization. Role stress and ambiguity almost always have a negative impact on job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
  • Empowerment: Empowerment in the workplace refers to motivating and energizing employees towards achieving goals, enhancing self-efficacy by reducing powerlessness, and increasing motivation and commitment. There are two main concepts of empowerment:
    • Structural empowerment: the ability to get things done and to mobilize resources.
    • Psychological empowerment: psychological perceptions/attitudes of employees about their work and their organizational roles.
      A study by Ahmad et al. (2010) found a positive correlation between empowerment and job satisfaction and commitment.
  • Job insecurity and employability: A study by De Cuyper research (2009) found that workers on fixed-term contracts, or anyone seen as a “temporary” worker, reported higher levels of job insecurity compared to permanent workers. Job insecurity negatively correlates with job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment. When an employee believes their job is secure for the long term, they are more likely to become invested in their role and the organization.

Team Engagement Vs. Organizational Commitment[4]

Here's how team engagement and organizational commitment compare:

  • Team engagement: Team engagement refers to how satisfied an individual may be at work and their level of awareness regarding the company.
  • Organizational commitment: This term refers to the amount of effort an individual may put into their work. It can also involve the emotional attachment they feel to their work, colleagues, and company.

Understanding the difference between these terms may help you improve both or decide which to focus on in your work setting.

Benefits of Organizational Commitment[5]

Since organizational commitment determines how long employees will stay with your organization, committed employees are any and every organization’s assets. Some of the key benefits and advantages of organizational commitment are as follows:

  • High employee productivity: Committed employees are highly productive. They believe in the organization, its goals, vision, mission, and the leadership team. These employees not only demonstrate high levels of productivity, but they also ensure their colleagues and team members too display the same.
  • Reduced absenteeism: A committed and motivated staff will report much lesser absenteeism than their peers. Committed employees look forward to going to work, completing their work, helping out with projects, and contributing toward organizational goals.
  • Excellent team players: Since dedicated employees are heavily invested in the organization, and its success, they are great at collaborating with and working in teams.
  • Strong advocates: Dedicated and committed employees believe in their organization, and hence, are effective and positive advocates of their employers. They are strong believers and supporters of their employer’s products, services, and policies.

See Also