Employee Organizational Commitment

Employee Organizational Commitment

In the present day environment, the workplace is changing dramatically and its demands for the highest quality of product and service are increasing. To remain competitive in the face of these pressures, employee organizational commitment is crucial. The benefits of having the best trained employees using the most advanced technology can be nullified by the employees who do not want to use their energy and skills for the benefit of the organization. Without employee organizational commitment, there can be no improvement in any area of the organizational activity. Employees simply treat their work as an eight hours job without any intense desire to accomplish any more than what is necessary to remain employed. It does not take many uncommitted employees to prevent the organization from prospering and hence conceding a big advantage to its competitors.

Organizations are facing these days with ever-increasing competition and as they prepare for new challenges, one of the key components of their survival is maintaining and upgrading the ability of the organization to use its human resource effectively and efficiently. The appointment of good employees is thus critical, but of even greater significance is the ability of the organization to create a committed workforce. The importance of employee organizational commitment is quite visible by the higher level of the organizational performance with committed employees.

The organization can be competitive and performing only if it ensures that its employees are committed to the goals and objectives of the organization and they perform their work as effective team members. It is no longer sufficient to have employees who are faithful and loyal to the organization. These days, employees are to consider themselves as part of the organization and are to contribute towards positive environment in the organization.  Most of the organizations these days are facing the challenge of maintenance of the employee commitment. There is need today that the management to understand the concept of commitment which is consisting of the behaviours being displayed by the employees who are committed to the organization.

Employee organizational commitment can exist in the organization at different levels. The level of commitment exists at a low level and can move from the low level to a moderate level and continue to develop to a higher level of commitment. Similarly a reverse trend can happen and the commitment level can move from the high level to a moderate level and continue to develop into a lower level of commitment.

The employee organizational commitment conceptual model is given in Fig 1.

Fig 1 Employee organizational commitment conceptual model

Definitions of commitment

Commitment has been defined and measured in many different ways. There is a lack of with regards to the definition of the term. It is regarded as a multi-dimensional concept (Meyer and Allen, 1991). The multi-dimensional concept is one of the most widely used and explains commitment the best in terms of organizational behaviour. Also, besides the existence of multiple dimensions or forms of commitment, there is a need for a core essence which characterizes it. To establish what this core essence is, one is to look for commonality among the existing conceptualizations. The various definitions of commitment used are given below.

  • Commitment is a stabilizing force that acts to maintain behavioural direction when expectancy/equity conditions are not met and do not function (Scholl, 1981).
  • It is a force that stabilizes individual behaviour under circumstances where the individual would otherwise be tempted to change that behaviour (Brickman, 1987).
  • It is an obliging force which requires that the person honour the commitment, even in the face of fluctuating attitudes and whims (Brown, 1996).
  • It is the relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organization (Mowday et al, 1979).
  • It is the psychological attachment felt by the person for the organization; it will reflect the degree to which the individual internalizes or adopts characteristics or perspectives of the organization (O’Reilly and Chatman, 1986).
  • It is a psychological state that binds the individual to the organization (Allen and Meyer, 1990).

All of the above definitions refer to a force which directs a person’s behaviour. There appears to be consensus that the force is experienced as a mind-set (a frame of mind or psychological state). However, there is disagreement about the nature of the mind-set and hence there are different types (dimensions) of commitment have been identified. In short, employee organizational commitment can be defined as an employee’s identification with and involvement in the organization. It is characterized by a strong belief in and acceptance of the organizational goals and values, a willingness to exert considerable effort on its behalf, and a strong desire to maintain its membership. Tab 1 details different concept in the definitions of the organizational commitment.

Tab 1 Details of different concepts in the definitions of organizational  commitment
AuthorsConcepts Details
Angle and Perry (1981)Value commitmentCommitment to support the goals of the organization
Commitment to stayCommitment to retain the organizational membership
O’Reilly and Chatman (1986)ComplianceInstrumental involvement for specific extrinsic rewards
IdentificationAttachment based on a desire for affiliation with the organization
InternalizationInvolvement predicated on compatibility between employees and organizational values
Penley and Gould (1988)MoralAcceptance of and identification with organizational goals
CalculativeA commitment to the organization which is based on the employees’ receiving inducements to match contributions
AlienativeOrganizational attachment which results when the employees no longer perceive that there are rewards commensurate with investments and yet they remain due to the environmental pressures
Meyer and Allen (1991)AffectiveThe employees’ emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization
ContinuanceAn awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organization
NormativeA feeling of obligation to continue employment
Mayer and Schoorman (1992)ValueA belief in and acceptance of organizational goals and values and a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization
ContinuanceThe desire to remain a member of the organization
Jaros et al (1993)AffectiveThe degree to which employees are psychologically attached to the organization through feelings such as loyalty, affection, warmth, belongingness, and pleasure etc.
ContinuanceThe degree to which employees experience a sense of being locked in place because of the high costs of leaving
MoralThe degree to which employees are psychologically attached to the organization through internalization of its goals, values and missions

Three dimensional concepts of employee organizational commitment

Employee organizational commitment has three general themes as per Meyer and Allen (1991). These three general themes are namely (i) affective attachment to the organization, (ii) the perceived costs associated with leaving it, and (iii) the obligation to remain with it. These three themes are referred to as ‘affective’, ‘continuance’, and ‘normative’ commitment. Common to these three themes is the view that commitment is a psychological state which characterizes the employees’ relationship with the organization and has implications for the decision to continue its membership. These psychological states also have different implications for the work related behaviour.

Affective commitment – Affective commitment refers to the employees’ emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization. Employees with a strong affective commitment want to continue employment with the organization. According to Mowday (1982), the forerunners of affective commitment generally fall into four categories namely (i) personal characteristics, (ii) structural characteristics (organizational), (iii) job-related characteristics, and (iv) work experiences.

In case of personal characteristics such as age, tenure, gender, and education, the relations to commitment are neither strong nor consistent, since there are too many variables such as job status, work rewards, and work values etc. which are moderating the relationship. In case of the relationship between organizational characteristics and commitment, it is seen that the affective commitment is related to decentralization of decision making and formalization of policy and practices. In contrast to personal and organizational characteristics, there is exist relationship between work experience variables and affective commitment. Work experience variables which have been found to correlate with affective commitment include (i) equity in reward distribution, (ii) role clarity and freedom from conflict, (iii) supervisor consideration, (iv) fairness of performance-based rewards and job challenge, (v) opportunity for advancement, and (vi) participation in decision making. Hence, the work experience plays a big role in the employee organizational commitment.

Continuance commitment – Continuance commitment refers to an awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organization. The potential costs of leaving the organization include (i) the threat of wasting the time and effort spent acquiring non-transferable skills, (ii) losing attractive benefits, (iii) giving up seniority-based privileges, or (iv) having to uproot the family and disturb the personal relationships. Apart from the costs involved in leaving the organization, continuance commitment also gets developed as a function of a lack of alternative employment opportunities. Employees whose primary link to the organization is based on continuance commitment have organizational commitment for meeting their need.

 Normative commitment – Normative commitment reflects a feeling of obligation to continue employment. Employees with a high level of normative commitment feel that they have to remain with the organization. Feeling of obligation to remain with the organization can result from the internalization of normative pressures exerted on the employee prior to entry into the organization (family or cultural orientation), or following entry (organizational orientation). However, normative commitment can also get developed when the organization provides the employee with perks in advance, or incurs significant costs in providing employment (e.g. costs associated with job training). Recognition of these investments causes employees to feel an obligation to reciprocate by committing themselves to the organization until they repay the obligation.

Concepts of organizational commitment

The multidimensional framework for the employee organizational commitment assumes that the commitment represents an attitude towards the organization. It follows three concepts namely (i) compliance which takes place when attitudes, and corresponding behaviours are adopted in order to gain specific rewards, (ii) identification which occurs when an employee accepts influence to establish or maintain a satisfying relationship, and (iii) internalization which takes place when influence is accepted because the attitudes and behaviours the employee is being encouraged to adopt are matching with existing values. Employees thus become committed to the organization with which they share values. Fig 2 provides a representation of the concepts of employee organizational commitment.

Fig 2 Representation of the concepts of employee organizational commitment

Commitment and work behaviour

The meaning of employee commitment can best be explained by employing the social exchange theory. The social exchange theory is based upon an economic concept of human behaviour. Here the interactional processes between individuals are motivated by a desire to maximize rewards and to minimize losses. The basic premise of social exchange theory is that relationships providing more rewards than costs yield lasting mutual trust and attraction. Also, these social dealings incorporate both the material benefits and psychological rewards including status, loyalty and approval. In the organization, management provides the employees with support and monetary rewards while in exchange, the employees contribute personal loyalty and expertise.

Organizational effectiveness depends on more than simply maintaining a stable workforce in which the employees are to perform assigned duties dependably and be willing to engage in activities which go beyond their role requirements. Thus, it seems reasonable to presume that the willingness of the employees to contribute to the organizational effectiveness is influenced by the nature of the commitment they experience. Employees who want to belong to the organization (affective commitment) are more likely than those who need to belong (continuance commitment) or feel obliged to belong (normative commitment) to make efforts on behalf of the organization.

It is possible that an obligation to remain is to carry with it an obligation to contribute. In such a case, the normative commitment also correlates positively with effort and performance. Continuance commitment is perhaps least likely to correlate positively with the performance. Employees whose term in the organization is based primarily on need, can see little reason to do more than what is required to remain in the organization.

Organizations need employees who are willing to go beyond the call of duty and engage in extra-role behaviours. For this, there is possibility of the link between the three components of commitment and a multidimensional measure of work behaviour. It is noticed that the measures of work behaviour correlate positively with measures of affective and normative commitment but not with continuance commitment. It is seen that affective commitment contributes significantly to the prediction of concern for quality, sacrifice orientation, and willingness to share knowledge. Normative commitment contributes only to the prediction of sacrifice orientation, and continuance commitment does not add significantly to the prediction of any of these behaviours. These relationships provide support for the proposition that the three components of commitment have different implications for work-related behaviour other than turnover.

A term closely related to commitment is organizational citizenship. It can be conceptualized as a global concept which includes all positive organizationally relevant behaviours of the individual employees. It thus includes traditional in-role job performance behaviours, organizationally functional extra-role behaviours, and political behaviours, such as full and responsible organizational participation. In order to understand how employees’ perceptions and attitudes affect their commitment, and hence their work behaviour, it is necessary to understand the precise meaning of organizational citizenship behaviour.

 Organizational citizenship behaviour

Work behaviour which is in some way beyond the reach of traditional measures of job performance but holds out the promise of long-term organizational success, is receiving increasing attention for meeting the challenge of the competition. It highlights the importance of organizational innovation, flexibility, productive and responsiveness to changes in the external environment. The terms which are generally used to describe such behaviour include organizational citizenship behaviour and extra-role behaviour.

Organizational citizenship behaviour represents employee behaviour which is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and promotes the effective functioning of the organization. It can be conceptualized as a precise dimension of the job performance composed of extra-role behaviours. Organizational citizenship behaviour is vital for the productivity since the organization cannot forecast through stated job descriptions the entire spectrum of employees’ behaviours needed for achieving the goals. The success of the organization thus is dependent on the employees’ willingness to do more than what their official job descriptions outline.

A common theme of these conceptualizations is an attempt to identify work behaviour which contributes to the organizational effectiveness, but which is often not used to assess job performance. This means that job performance is assessed by referring to in-role behaviour, whereas organizational citizenship behaviour refers to both in-role and extra-role behaviour. A critical difference between these two kinds of behaviour is the extent to which others reward the behaviour and impose sanctions if it is absent. Both in-role and extra-role behaviours can be intrinsically rewarding. However, the in-role behaviour is more likely to be linked to the extrinsic rewards and sanctions.

It is generally seen that organizations get significant benefits from having employees who are willing to go above and beyond the required role behaviour. However, there can be situations in which it is desirable to have employees conceptualize their jobs broadly so that they engage in certain organizational functional behaviours without feeling that they are doing something extra. As an example, when employees’ helping other employees is critical to getting a job done effectively, then it can be problematic if the supervisors have to depend on employees’ willingness to engage in extra-role behaviour. In such situations, management normally desires to encourage employees to see helping other employees as in-role in order to ensure more consistent performance. Thus, it can be valuable for the employees to understand the precise social and psychological factors which influence employees’ perceptions of their job responsibilities.

An important management function can be to reduce the perception ‘it is not my job’ with respect to activities which are critical but not formally enforced. However, this is not an easy job since employees and the management can have different ideas on defining various behaviours as in-role or extra-role, and as a result is dependent upon how broadly the employees’ job responsibilities are defined.

One determinant of how broadly employees define their jobs is affective commitment. High affective commitment means that the employees perceive their employment as being based on a relational exchange. They thus tend to define their job obligations in a broad and flexible manner, indicating high perceived job breadth. This is quite different from what is traditionally regarded as organizational citizenship behaviour and commitment relationship. Instead of believing that commitment leads employees to exceed their job requirements, it is often seen that the commitment changes the way in which employees define job requirements. Extra-role behaviour is more likely to be seen as in-role behaviour and part of one’s job.

The organizational citizenship behaviour is sometimes considered to be consisting of three categories namely (i) obedience, (ii) loyalty, and (iii) participation. Obedience involves respect for orderly structures and processes. It reflects employees’ acceptance of the necessity for and desirability of rational rules and systems governing the organizational structure, job descriptions and personnel policies. Loyalty includes serving the interests of the community as a whole and the values it embodies. In the organization, loyalty is the identification with and allegiance to the organizational management and the organization as a whole, transcending the interests of employees, work groups and departments. It also includes defending the organization against threats, contributing to its good reputation, and cooperating with other employees to serve the interests of the whole. Participation entails active and responsible involvement in community self-governance and keeping oneself well informed about issues affecting the community as well as exchanging information and ideas with other others. In the organizational context, it refers to interest in the organizational affairs and taking responsibility for the organizational governance. It also includes attending non obligatory meetings, sharing informed opinions and new ideas with other employees and being willing to contest the groupthink. When employees engage in obedience, loyalty and participation activities, they display commitment to the organization. Not only the employees do more than what is expected from them, but they do not expect to be rewarded for it.

The relationship between commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour can best be explained by stating that the organizational citizenship behaviours are displayed by employees to demonstrate their level of commitment to the organization. Commitment is thus to be seen as a certain state of mind which leads to the display of certain behaviours. The concept of employee commitment can be considered that it is the employees’ belief in and acceptance of the goals and values of the organization, a willingness to work hard on its behalf, and a strong desire to remain in it.  The organizational citizenship behaviour can be defined as work-related behaviours which are discretionary, not related to the formal organizational reward system, and promote the effective functioning of the organization. Both the definitions of commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour refer to the internal forces driving work-related behaviour which contributes to the success of the organization.

Because the organizational citizenship behaviours include such a wide variety of behaviours, they have been grouped into the following five categories. The extent to which these behaviours are displayed indicates the degree of employees’ commitment.

Altruism – It is the extent to which the employees are prepared to help co-employees with their workload and work-related problems.

Courtesy – It is the extent to which the employees help to prevent other employees’ problems by advance consultation, information and respect for other employees’ needs.

Sportsmanship – It is a willingness to accept minor frustrations and inconveniences without commotion or complaint.

Conscientiousness – It is the extent to which employees obey the organizational rules, regulations and procedures.

Civic virtue – It consists of responsible and constructive involvement and participation in issues confronting the organization.

Predictors of employees’ commitment behaviour

In the present day environment, in many organizations, erosion of employees’ commitment is taking place because of the most common reason of a failure on the part of the management in some way or other. On the other hand, for succeeding in the face of increasing competition, organizations need improved productivity at all the levels. This requires commitment on the part of all the employees and this can only be achieved through better management practices. Poor supervision and failure on the part of management to create a committed workforce can lead to the loss of valued employees. In this regards, many personal, situational and positional factors can affect the commitment of employees and hence their attitudes and behaviour. The major factors namely (i) personal, (ii) situational, and (iii) positional which influence employees’ commitment are given below.

Personal factors

It is an accepted fact that there are certain types of employees who are more likely to be committed to their organization. Some of the employees can be simply more inclined to engage in citizenship behaviours than others. In particular, employees who are highly conscientious, outgoing (extroverted) and generally have a positive outlook on life (optimistic) are often more inclined to be more committed. Employees who are team oriented and tend to place the goals and concerns of the group above their own, typically also engage in more citizenship behaviours. Likewise, employees who are empathetic and value helping others (altruistic) can also be more inclined to display citizenship behaviours at work. Also, certain employees tend to define their jobs more broadly than others. For these employees, engaging in citizenship behaviours is simply seen as an integral aspect of their jobs.  

Situational factors

The different situational factors are described below.

Workplace values – Shared values are a critical component of any formal relationship. Values which are non-controversial such as quality, innovation, cooperation and participation, are easy to share and can forge close relationships. If employees believe that their organization values quality products, they are engaged in behaviours which contribute to high quality. Similarly, if the employees are convinced that their organization values participation, they are more likely to feel as though their participation can make a difference. As a result, they are more willing to seek solutions and make suggestions to contribute to the success of the organization.

Subordinate-supervisor inter-personal relationship – It is seen that the social exchange theory employs an interactionist approach to the workplace relationships where subordinates and supervisors engage in mutually beneficial dealings. Social exchange implies an informal contract between the employees and the organization, and because the supervisor largely represents the organization to the employees, trust in the supervisor is seen as pivotal to the leader effectiveness and work unit productivity. Moreover, the supervisor’s behaviour is fundamental in determining the level of inter-personal trust in a work unit. Supervisor behaviours include sharing of appropriate information, allowing mutuality of influence, recognizing and rewarding good performance, and not abusing the vulnerability of others.

Several supervisor behaviours have been identified as facilitating inter-personal trust. These are supervisor availability, competence, consistency, discreetness, fairness, integrity, loyalty, openness, promise fulfillment, receptivity, and overall trust. The extent to which the supervisor displays these behaviours, thus largely determines the employees’ commitment level.

It is interesting to note that only the perceptions of interactional impartiality influence actual citizenship behaviours, although distributive, formal procedural and interactional fairness are related to organizational citizenship behaviours. Personal fair treatment by supervisors conveys more fairness information to employees than a more general assessment of the fairness of overall procedures. Perceived interactional fairness demonstrates to employees that the supervisor considers them valuable and important as individuals, whereas perceived formal procedural fairness focuses on the organization as a whole. Fair procedures can be in place, but the practice of fairness by supervisors demonstrates that impartiality actually occurs.

Job characteristics -To the extent that a job is structured to provide regular feedback and autonomy as well as a sense of task completion, employees can monitor their own behaviour and gain an increased sense of personal control. Personal control is the employees’ belief that they can effect a change in a desired direction. An increase in the personal control strengthens the emotional bonds with the organization. A heightened sense of personal control thus has positive outcomes for the employees’ attitudes and behaviours. It is seen that the employees engage in higher levels of citizenship behaviour when they have the opportunity to work on intrinsically satisfying tasks. However, citizenship levels (commitment) are likely to be markedly lower when employees are given repetitive, highly routinized tasks to complete. In addition, bureaucratic rules and procedures which overly constrain employees can serve to restrain acts of citizenship.

Motivating job characteristics such as meaningful work, autonomy and feedback maximize the possibility for internal motivation. It is seen that satisfaction with autonomy (perceived independence), status (sense of importance), and policies (satisfaction with organizational demands) are all significant predictors of commitment. Thus, specific characteristics of a job can increase the employees’ sense of felt responsibility, and subsequently, the sense of the attachment to the organization.

Understanding how employee’s job contributes to interdependent outcomes enhances feelings of embeddedness and accountability. Similarly, awareness of outcomes (feedback) can lead to a strong feeling of mutual responsibility. A job which allows a high degree of autonomy and the absence of close supervision suggests a situation characterized by trust. Hence the freedom associated with autonomy and low monitoring is normally balanced by the reciprocal response of responsibility and commitment.

Organizational support -There is a significant association between employee commitment and the extent to which employees believe their organization has respect for their interests. Organizations which are able to provide work-life benefits and other types of employee support are likely to elicit citizenship behaviour. It is seen that the employees are more willing to go beyond the call of duty when they work for the organization that offers support which enables them to balance their work and family responsibilities more easily, assists them through difficult times, provides them with benefits they cannot afford, and helps their children do things they otherwise are not been able to do.

Positional factors

The different positional factors are described below.

Organizational term – It has been seen that there exist a relationship between job term and employees’ relationships with the organization. This relationship shows that employees who have been with the organization for a long time are more likely to have embedded relationships and strong organizational ties.  It has been proved that continuance commitment (the costs of leaving the organization) has a positive effect on the affective commitment of the employees.

Hierarchical job level – Different studies have consistently found that the socio-economic status is the single strongest predictor of commitment since the higher status tends to increase both the motivation and ability to be actively involved. In the organization, employees at higher job levels normally have higher levels of organizational commitment than those at the lower job levels. This is because the position of power allows employees to (i) influence the organizational decision making, (ii) indicate high status, (iii) recognize formal authority and possibly competence, and (iv) show that the organization recognizes their competence and values their contributions. Employees in higher level jobs have more freedom and choices in their behaviour on the job, and these choices enhance their sense of control and thus lead to increased affective commitment to the organization.

Managers are normally not in a position to influence employees’ commitment since they do not have control over employees’ positional or personal situations. A manager can, however, manage the work situation in such a way that employee commitment is enhanced.

Organizational change

Organization tends to be very good at planning and arranging the technical and structural aspects of the change, but poor at guiding and supporting the human side, that is, the personal reorientation associated with the change. This is one of the reasons why employees have distrust and resistance. There are five typical barriers namely (i) disruption of personal relationships, (ii) perceived threat to status, (iii) preference for the status quo, (iv) economic factors, and (v) problems associated with the management development specialists of the organization. Similarly, techniques to help overcome these barriers include (i) involving managers and employees in the change process, (ii) the use of informal leaders, (iii) use of the management development specialists, and (iv) creation of a new vision for the workplace. The common thing in all these techniques is that they either rely for their success on employee commitment, or are aimed at maintaining commitment as such.

Many of the techniques applied to ensure continued employee commitment in the face of a change, do not address the fundamental nature of problems concerning employee commitment. As an example, increased employee involvement in the change process can increase understanding and lessen uncertainty, but if employees’ personally held values do not agree with the new value system in the organization, then such approaches do little or nothing to restore internalized commitment. Similarly, the use of informal leaders and methods aimed at convincing employees of the need for change are to address the core issue of ensuring value conformity between employees and the organization.

However, such techniques can be successful where change affects the level of work practices, but does not disturb underlying organizational values. In such instances, to ensure continued commitment, logic and understanding of the need for change are needed. However, when the change occurs at the level of values, more fundamental approaches are required. The aim of these is to be the re-establishment of its continuance. It remains clearly possible that some employees find that the mismatch between their own personal values and the new organizational values has an unbridgeable gap. For such employees, future commitment is to be based on compliance and identification, which have their own implications for future employee performance.

Organizational actions for encouraging commitment

In the organization, as in case of personal relationships, commitment is a two-way process. If management wants committed employees, it has to be a committed management. Committed employees do better work than the uncommitted employees and the organization with committed employees perform better than the organization with uncommitted employees. Still, fewer than half of the employees of the organization feel committed to their organization in the present day environment.

Organizational management is required to determine what is responsible for this disparity. According to employees, management does not value loyalty and are willing to sacrifice employees to maintain the financial bottom line. Employees point to decades of downsizing, rightsizing, and re-engineering as evidence that management treats them as expendable commodities when times get tough. While the management still wants the employees to be productive, to be proud of their organization, and to remain with the organization for a reasonable period of time, it needs to acknowledge that employees also have needs, both as employees and as individuals. The relationship between the management and employees has evolved significantly, but unfortunately the organizational practices have not kept pace with the changing needs of the employees. The five key areas identified in this regards are (i) safety and security, (ii) rewards, (iii) affiliation, (iv) growth, and (v) work/life harmony.

One of the major areas which needs attention, however, is the work/life harmony. While a great deal of attention is being focused on the concept of work/life harmony and the management normally recognizes its importance, the practices being followed need review and adjustments in such a way that they accommodate the employees’ personal needs. Management generally gets benefited by doing so, considering the fact that the work/life harmony is being either the most or second-most important factor in taking a job.

Drivers of employee commitment

The following three drivers have been identified as the key factors influencing an employees’ commitment.

Fairness – Fairness implies the elimination of one’s feelings, prejudices and desires to achieve a proper balance between conflicting interests. The problem with fairness is that it is subjective. Again, perception is reality. To create a perception of fairness, management is to (i) pay competitive wages, (ii) create and administer policies which are unbiased, (iii) offer competitive benefits, (iv) provide timely, accurate and useful performance appraisals, (v) promote the most qualified employees, and (vi) develop employees by providing opportunities for growth. Affording employees the opportunity to voice their concerns, play an important role in ensuring interactional justice.

It has been seen that an unfavourable outcome, such as not receiving promotion because of certain measures, is better received by the employees when they are treated in an inter-personally fair manner such as being given an explanation for the decision. In such occasions, though the employees can feel that the decision is not distributively fair, they remain committed to the organization because they are treated with respect and fairly.

Trust – for nurturing commitment, management is to create an environment of trust. If the management desires to develop and maintain trust, it is to do what it says. It is to (i) be consistent, (ii) maintains confidences, (ii) be a role model of behaviour, (iv) encourage employee involvement, (v) allow employees to make decisions which affect their work and to make mistakes without fear or ridicule and, learn from mistakes, and not to punish scapegoats, (vi) explain reasons for major decisions, and (vii) act on the suggestions of the employees.

It is seen in some studies that the link between commitment and performance is largely non-existent and commitment to supervisors is more strongly linked to performance than the commitment to the organization. One implication of the outcomes of these studies is that human resource executives concerned with the employee performance are to focus their efforts on commitment to supervisors rather than commitment to the organization. Supervisors play a crucial role in the perceptions, employees form about the organizational supportiveness and the extent to which it can be trusted to look after their interests. Hence, the supervisors and the managers play an important role in building employees commitment. Effective supervisors and managers inspire loyalty, trust and admiration.

Concern for employees – Employees are to be regarded as people, not materials for production. Management is to provide job security as far as possible, train and develop employees, be flexible to accommodate employee issues, be open and honest and allow employees to have a life outside work. In one of the studies it has been seen that there is a relationship between human resource practices and organizational commitment. The human resource practices affect the relationship between perceived organizational support and organizational commitment. By relying on the social exchange theory, the study has shown that employees’ commitment to the organization derives from their perceptions of the employers’ commitment to and support of them. Recognizing this tendency to personify the organization, it has been predicted that positive, beneficial actions directed at employees by the organization contribute to the establishment of high-quality exchange relationships which create obligations for employees to reciprocate in positive and beneficial ways. Employees interpret the organizational actions such as human resource practices and the trustworthiness of the management as being indicative of the personified organization’s commitment to them. They reciprocate their perceptions accordingly in their own commitment to the organization.

Another important mechanism to manage organizational commitment is through substantial human resource policies and practices which are fair. Human resource practices can be classified as ‘control’ or ‘commitment’ practices. The aim of control practices is to (i) increase efficiency, (ii) reduce direct labour costs, (iii) rely on strict work rules and procedures, and (iv) base rewards on outputs. Hence, rules, sanctions, rewards, and monitoring regulate employee behaviour. In contrast, commitment practices aim to increase effectiveness and productivity and rely on conditions which encourage employees to identify with the organizational goals and work hard to accomplish such goals. The practices which represent a high commitment strategy include (i) selective staffing, (ii) developmental appraisal, (iii) competitive and equitable compensation, and (iv) comprehensive training and development activities. Overall, the employees have a strong sense of self-worth. They recognize their value, and want the management to recognize as well.  Organization which listens to the employees and builds a committed workforce has a distinct competitive advantage.

Relationship between fairness and commitment

One way that organizational fairness is communicated is through the development and enactment of specific policies and procedures which are and are seen to be fair. Fig 3 presents the link between human resource policies and practices with the organizational commitment dimensions. This link implies that the employees’ perceptions of human resource policies and practices lead to the development of a particular dimension of organizational commitment. Human resource policies and practices which are perceived to enhance employees’ self worth tend to lead to affective commitment to the organization. On the other hand, continuance commitment is due to perceived cost of loss in human resource practices, while normative commitment is due to the perceived need to reciprocate.

Fig 3 Link between human resource policies and practices with organizational commitment dimensions

The concern for fairness is reinforced by the presence of a fairness heuristic at work in employees’ cognitions regarding their relationships to the organization. Employees need to make decisions about the extent to which they constrain their own interests for the sake of the organizational interests and welfare. Exhaustive consideration of all relevant information is impossible in the contexts of real-world relationships between employees and the organization. Hence, employees inevitably rely on judgmental heuristics to determine whether to entrust their interests and identity to the organization and align their goals and behaviour with that of the organization. Among the factors affecting this decision, fairness concerns appear to be of great importance.

Fairness suggests to employees that their membership of the organization is valued and that the organization respects them and hence making commitment to the organization is a viable way of maintaining their identity and fulfilling their interests. Fair treatment indicates to employees that they are being respected as ends in themselves, and not merely as a means to achieving the ends set by others. Fairness judgments are formed quickly, easily become entrenched, and constitute a key heuristic basis on which decisions are made about the employees’ cooperation with and support for the organization, a basis more powerful, for example, than economic concerns.

According to a study, which has examined the relationship between perceptions of fairness and commitment, it is interesting to note that interactional impartiality has been found as the only source of justice to relate to commitment. One possible reason for this is that distributive and procedural impartiality referred to the organization as a whole while interactional fairness focuses on the degree to which the behaviour of the supervisor enacts the formal procedures in a fair manner. Employees’ impressions of the fairness of their interactions with their supervisors communicate more information to them about trust and equity than the presence or absence of fair procedures. The actions of the supervisor are probably the most effective and compelling communicator of the employees’ value. It has been seen that the procedural impartiality better predicts organizational commitment and trust in supervision than distributive impartiality. The main implication of different studies indicates that supervisors can directly influence employees’ commitment. The perception of fairness that originated from interactional impartiality is based on whether the supervisor correctly uses the procedures which are designed to promote fairness correctly and on the nature of the supervisor’s behaviour while enacting those procedures. If the management thus wants to increase employee commitment, it has to work to increase the fairness of its interactions with employees.

Advantages of employee organizational commitment

There are many positive effect of the employee organizational commitment. Committed organizational members contribute positively to the organization. Organization with employees having high levels of commitment shows higher performance and productivity and lower levels of absenteeism and sluggishness. This implies that employees with a high level of commitment tend to take greater efforts to perform and invest their resources in the organization.

Organizational commitment can result in a stable and productive workforce. It enables employees to release their creativity and to contribute towards organizational development initiatives. Employees who are highly committed do not leave the organization even in case they are dissatisfied and tend to take challenging work activities. Committed members are normally achievement and innovative orientated with the ultimate aim of engaging in and improving performance.

Other positive effects of organizational commitment include feelings of affiliation, attachment and citizenship behaviour, which tend to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Affectively and normatively committed employees are more likely to maintain organizational membership and contribute to the success of the organization than continuance-committed members.

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