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HR Guide: Increasing Organizational Commitment

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9 min read
organizational-commitment

Nurturing a sense of organizational commitment in your business can help you perform better and reach your goals. It helps your workforce feel more connected to the organization and boosts morale, engagement and satisfaction levels. What’s more, employees who feel a sense of commitment and shared purpose are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company.

And all this has a direct impact on growth and productivity.

Today we’re going to discuss why nurturing commitment to a company and commitment to work can help you build a stronger and more successful business. We’ll look at organizational approaches such as the Meyer and Allen 1997 commitment in the workplace model, and we’ll share tips to help you increase organizational commitment in your company.

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What is Organizational Commitment?

Organizational scientists Meyer & Allen defined organizational commitment as an individual’s positive emotional attachment toward an organization. In other words, it’s the psychological bond your workforce forms with your business; how loyal and committed your employees are.

Generally speaking, employees who are committed to their organization feel a connection to the business. They feel they fit in, and they understand the vision, mission, and goals of the organization. They have developed a sense of loyalty and they want to do what they can to help the organization succeed. And this, in turn, usually results in increased engagement, performance, and productivity.

Organizational commitment is all about making work meaningful and nurturing a sense of shared purpose in order to build a happier and more productive workforce.

Why Commitment is Important in the Workplace

Nurturing a level of commitment in an organization offers a range of benefits for both employers and employees.

Here are some of the biggest advantages.

Improved Performance

Committed employees are far more likely to contribute to a high-performance organization. This is because forming workplace commitments helps employees understand and believe in the company’s shared, goals, vision, and mission. This motivates employees to exceed performance expectations in order to help the organization get where it needs to be. And this, in turn, inspires other employees to follow suit and improve their performance, too.

Higher Productivity

To the same effect, if you nurture a level of organizational commitment in your company, you are also likely to see an increase in workplace productivity. This is because committed employees are more devoted to the greater good of the business on a psychological level. They feel confident enough to work autonomously, they set more ambitious personal targets, and they strive to get as much done during the working day as possible. And all this helps you obtain more positive results as a business.

Boosts Loyalty

Your best asset is your workforce. And if your employees believe in your business and feel a degree of organizational commitment, then they will eventually develop a sense of loyalty towards you as an employer. And this means that they are not only your best asset – they are also your biggest advocates. They believe in the vision of your organization, and they actively support what you stand for.

What’s more, loyal employees are also far more likely to be cooperative and collaborative. They are more dedicated to their work, and they embrace the sense of belonging that your workplace culture offers. And all this has a big impact on employee morale, satisfaction and happiness.

Reduces Absenteeism

Commitment in an organization also has a direct impact on absenteeism. The reason for this is simple: if an employee is happy and committed, then they are much less likely to call in sick because they enjoy contributing to daily organizational goals and feeling like a valued team member.

Increases Retention

Finally, committed employees are not only less likely to call in sick, but they are also far more likely to remain at your company in the long run.

Once an employee has formed a psychological bond with your business and they identify with your organization’s goals and values, they are far less likely to look for work elsewhere, even if they experience occasional periods of stress or workplace dissatisfaction. This is because they have invested emotionally in the business which makes it harder to cut ties and leave without good reason. They are far more likely to focus on internal professional development rather than looking for other opportunities elsewhere.

How to Increase Organizational Commitment

Being a good employer these days involves so much more than paying a decent wage – you also need to pay your employees a decent emotional salary to increase employee happiness levels. And this means meeting the emotional needs of your workforce.

Here are a few strategies you can use to encourage the development of organizational commitment in your business.

Nurture Employee Development

One of the most effective strategies for increasing organizational commitment is nurturing employee development. It’s all about providing opportunities for learning and offering employees the training, resources, and support they need to develop their knowledge, skills, and experience.

For one thing, by offering the right L&D opportunities, you can help your employees feel more competent, capable, and confident in their roles. And by providing regular constructive feedback to help guide employees on their personal path to success you can help them meet their goals effectively and boost their performance and productivity. And this helps employees feel empowered and raises team morale, further increasing organizational commitment.

Employee development also helps employees feel challenged and appreciated, which helps them build a sense of psychological safety: where people feel comfortable voicing their opinions without fear of punishment or being judged. And this makes for a far more innovative and creative environment, which is exactly what you need in order to develop the right growth mindset for success.

Implement an Employee Wellbeing Initiative

Another effective strategy for boosting organizational commitment is nurturing the employee experience. The better experience your workforce has at your company, the more likely they are to develop a sense of loyalty and commitment toward the business.

The first step here is establishing what your current employee experience is like. Are your employees happy working for you? Are you providing them with a healthy work environment? Do they have a good work-life balance? What would improve their overall experience at work and help them feel more comfortable?

The best way to collect feedback on this is through an employee satisfaction survey. This will help you gain an understanding of how happy your workforce is so that you can identify what you need to work on. Then once you’ve identified what positive changes you need to make in order to improve the employee experience, you then need to implement the right initiatives.

For example, if you don’t already have one, you should seriously consider launching an employee wellbeing program. As part of the initiative, you could offer discounts at a local gym, set up a common room for employees to relax in during their breaks, or set up a cafeteria with subsidized food and drinks options.

Whatever strategy you use to improve employee wellness, make sure you listen to the needs of your employees. The more they feel you are listening to them and that you care about their wellbeing, the more they will commit to your organization on a psychological level.
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Promote Inclusivity & Belonging

Aside from improving the employee experience and nurturing development, it’s also important to develop a vision of diversity and inclusion in your workplace culture. Before any individual can begin to form an emotional bond with your business, they need to feel that you respect and hear them. In other words, they need to feel that they belong – regardless of whether they identify with a minority or majority group.

If an employee doesn’t feel included, they are much less likely to be engaged and happy in their role. In fact, according to a McKinsey survey, 39% of respondents have declined a job offer in the past because they believed that the organization lacked an inclusive environment. Diversity, equity, and inclusion matter.

Show appreciation to your employees. Reward achievements, praise over-achievers and offer support to any employees that seem to be struggling. Develop an employee recognition program. Organize team-building exercises and offer bonuses and perks.

Improve Transparency and Communication

One of the best strategies you can use to increase organizational commitment relates to building trust and transparency. This, ultimately, comes down to positive interactions and communication.

Be clear about what your organization’s goals and vision are. Clearly communicate your expectations to each member of your workforce. Make sure everyone understands how their role contributes to the overall performance of the organization.

A simple yet effective way of promoting transparency and communication is by sending out a regular newsletter with company news and important updates. Holding weekly catch-ups with the entire team is also a great way to open the lines of communication so that everyone is on the same page and feels that they have a voice.

Create an Equal Pay Policy

As important as emotional salaries are, employees are not going to stick around for the long haul unless they feel that you are paying them fairly. In fact, according to a survey by Payscale, 25% of respondents said that higher pay was the main reason they looked for a new job.

You can offer a range of perks, but if you are not compensating your employees fairly then they will eventually look for better opportunities elsewhere. And this means you will never achieve a company-wide sense of organizational development.

With this in mind, work on creating an equal pay policy so that your salary benchmarks and guidelines are clear. Make sure your compensation strategies are in line with industry standards and communicate your firm belief in equal pay for equal work to all your staff.

Track Organizational Commitment

Finally, the only way to determine if your incentives and strategies are having a truly positive impact on the level of organizational commitment in your business is by regularly tracking it.

For example, organization commitment and job satisfaction go hand in hand. The better the employee experience your business offers, the more committed your employees will be to the success of the company.

Feedback is the best way to gauge the level of happiness in your business. You can share regular employee satisfaction surveys to collect valuable input from your workforce. You can then use these results to gain valuable insight into your level of organizational commitment.

There are also a number of tools and models you can use to track organizational commitment. The most widely accepted tool is a 24-item questionnaire by Alan and Meyer (1990). This includes eight statements from each of the commitment types: affective, continuance, and normative.

Types of Organizational Commitment

As we already saw above, organizational commitment relates to how loyal and committed your employees are.

With this approach in mind, organizational scientists Meyer & Allen created the very first model of commitment known as the Three Component Model (TCM). This model breaks down organizational commitment into three components according to psychological state:

  • Affective commitment: where employees feel affection for your organization
  • Continuance commitment: where employees experience fear of loss
  • Normative commitment: where employees feel a sense of obligation to stay

Let’s take a look at these commitment types in a bit more detail.

Affective Commitment

Affective commitment is the “desire” component of organizational commitment. Employees want to be committed to the organization.

With this type of commitment, employees feel affection towards the company, and they demonstrate a high level of active commitment. They are happy and engaged, participate in discussions, and offer valuable input. They do this because they feel inspired to prove their worth as a valuable member of the organization.

Continuance Commitment

Continuance commitment is the degree to which employees believe they have to stay with an organization. For example, they might feel committed because they rely on a regular salary, and they don’t want to risk their financial stability by looking for potentially “better” opportunities elsewhere.

This type of commitment in an organization is based on a fear of loss. Employees NEED to commit because the alternative could be risky.

Normative Commitment

The third and final type of organizational commitment is normative. This is where an employee feels a sense of obligation to stay with the organization. That it is the “right thing to do”.

This could be for a number of reasons.

For example, if a company has invested a considerable amount into the professional development of an employee, they may feel they owe their employer the benefit of their newly acquired skills, at least for a determined period. They feel a sense of duty to repay the investment of time and resources.

How to Measure Organizational Commitment

Let’s finish by taking a look at a few models you can use to measure organizational commitment. That way, you can keep your finger on the pulse and continue to improve at all times.

Unidimensional Target Neutral (K.U.T) Organizational Commitment Measure

The first, and most basic tool is the Klein et al. Unidimensional Target Neutral (K.U.T) Commitment Measure. This model is based on the idea that workplace commitment is a unidimensional, target-free construct.

The approach is simple. You just need to ask your employees the following four questions in order to determine their level of organizational commitment:

  • How committed are you to the organization?
  • To what extent do you care about the organization?
  • How dedicated are you to the organization?
  • To what extent have you chosen to be committed to the organization?

Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ)

The next tool is a 15-item Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ), developed by Mowday, Steers, & Porter. You can use this approach to evaluate how strongly an employee identifies with your organization.

The measure uses a 5-point Likert type response format with a focus on the following three factors:

  • Willingness to exert effort
  • Desire to remain in the organization
  • Acceptance of organizational values.

These factors are believed to relate to the level of commitment that an employee feels towards their organization. The belief is that the more employee values are aligned with the mission of the organization, the higher the level of commitment.

Three Component Model (TCM)

The final, and most widely accepted, tool for measuring organizational commitment is the Three Component Model (TCM). This approach is also known as the Meyer and Allen 1997 commitment in the workplace model.

This model is based on a 24-item questionnaire where employees are asked to rate how they feel about a range of statements. As we saw above, statements include 8 items from each of the three types of organizational commitment: affective, continuance, and normative.

Statements include:

  • This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me
  • This organization deserves my loyalty
  • I do not feel a strong sense of belonging to this organization
  • I would not leave my organization right now because of my sense of obligation to it.
Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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