What Is Organizational Commitment?

Malcolm Tatum

Organizational commitment is a concept that has to do with the degree of commitment and loyalty that employees exhibit toward employers. As part of this concept, determining the level of responsibility that employees feel toward an employer is important. The underlying idea is that if an employee is truly committed to the goals and aims of the organization, he or she will manifest that commitment in terms of individual work ethic, the support of company goals and generally be dedicated to the ongoing success of the employer’s business.

The level of organizational commitment can greatly affect employee performance, as well as day-to-day operations.
The level of organizational commitment can greatly affect employee performance, as well as day-to-day operations.

Within the scope of organizational commitment, there are several different levels that may be present in various combinations. One has to do with the degree of emotional attachment that an employee feels to the company. Sometimes referred to as affective commitment, this component of organizational commitment seeks to measure the positive feelings that the employee feels for the business and its operations in general. This type of commitment can come in handy when the business undergoes a stressful period, since employees with strong emotional attachments are likely to remain with the company and seek to develop and implement solutions that move the company back into a more desirable position.

Close friendships formed with co-workers outside of the workplace may strengthen a person's organizational commitment.
Close friendships formed with co-workers outside of the workplace may strengthen a person's organizational commitment.

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Along with affected commitment, continuance commitment is also an important component of organizational commitment. Here the focus is on how strongly employees see value in continuing to remain with the company. This often involves identifying the benefits that are enjoyed as the result of employment. The incentives to remain may have to do with wages or salary, benefits such as an attractive pension plan, or even intangibles like friendships that are developed within the company culture. A varied mixture of these incentives tends to motivate employees to remain with the company, at least until opportunities with greater incentives is presented.

A third component in the concept of organizational commitment is known as normative commitment. In this scenario, factors such as the loyalty employees feel are based on a sense of obligation or gratefulness for the role of the company in the lives of employees. For example, an employee may feel a commitment because the business helped to supply funds for obtaining a degree, or feel a strong attachment or gratitude because the employer provided a job during a period in which the individual was in dire need of a means of earning a living. In this situation, the employee feels an obligation to remain with the business, at least long enough for the company to receive some sort of return on its investment in the employee.

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.

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Discussion Comments


The article makes a good point in relation to employee longevity.

More companies should consider their long-standing, loyal employees when hiring for new positions.

Filling a more important position with an existing employee cuts down on training costs and turnover and gives the employer the peace of mind that he or she is hiring someone hardworking and trustworthy with an intimate knowledge of the business.


Affective organizational commitment and continuance commitment are often interrelated.

An employee working for a small company that he watched grow over the course of his time there will probably feel a closer connection to the company, management and other employees, especially those who have been there as long as he has.

As a result, if times are tough for the company, this employee is likely to remain loyal and offer to forgo raises and other benefits to help keep the company afloat. An employee in this situation will most likely feel a certain sense of ownership of his specific job or the company as a whole.

However, if the company begins to take advantage of the employee's loyalty and continues to withhold incentives or does not appear to be doing enough to change the situation, the employee may feel less motivated to stay.

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