Employee Commitment

June 26, 2020
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President

In recent months given the COVID-19 pandemic, the result has been a staggering unemployment rate within a very short period of time.  This has resulted in greater fear of job insecurity and likely lower organizational commitment.  The type of commitment that an individual inherently feels toward the company can help determine the degree of success that an employee will have in their role and subsequent level of productivity the organization will yield.  John Meyer and Natalie Allen (1991) developed a model that defines three types of organizational commitment and associated characteristics include: (Meyer, J.P. and Allen, N.J. (1991), A Three-Component Conceptualization of Organizational Commitment, Human Resource Management Review)

  • Affective commitment (AC)– refers to the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization.  (Job challenge, job scope, opportunity for self-expression, job satisfaction, etc.)
  • Continuance commitment (CC)– refers to commitment based on the costs that the employee associates with leaving the organization. (Age, tenure, specificity of skills, pension contribution, seniority, etc.)
  • Normative commitment (NC)– refers to the employee’s feelings of obligation to stay with the organization. (Internalization of normative pressures such as familial or cultural socialization felt prior to hiring, and organizational socialization felt after hiring.)

There is a correlation between the three types of commitment and employee ratings of performance and promotion ability as viewed by the first line supervisors.  According to previous studies, affective commitment was seen as more positively correlated with employee ratings of performance and promotion ability, and continuance commitment was seen as more negatively correlated as was normative commitment.  Meyer and Allen (1991) suggest that “…those wanting to belong [perform through affective commitment] are more likely to exert effort to perform than those needing to belong [perform through continuance commitment] or those obligated to belong [perform through normative commitment].” (Retrieved from the World Wide Web on June 5, 2020, found here.

Meyer and Allen (1991) conclude that the “nature of the link between commitment and on-the-job behavior is likely to be dependent on the implications of that behavior for employment.” There are ways that employers can increase the level of affective commitment and reduce continuance and normative commitments– especially as a way to counteract the fear of job insecurity being felt:

  • Link employee goals to organizational goals as a way to establish value alignment and encourage skill development
  • Provide regular positive recognition of contribution to the organization’s success
  • Create and maintain a healthy work environment- especially during a time when employees who may have been teleworking are now be hesitant to come back to the office. Check out phccweb.org/preparedness for resources to include those from the CDC and OSHA.


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