Companies take steps towards understanding employee commitment.

Your organization grows in spirals. It grows well for a certain period, and all visible signs of productivity, innovation, and customer orientation are good. Good employees are not leaving you, your deliveries are okay, customers are placing repeat orders to indicate their general comfort with you, and your stock is also doing well. But the industry and stock market sees you as an organization in the so-called tier 2, composed of mid-size IT firms growing either at the industry average rate or a tad lower. In other words, not a star, but not a laggard either.

Consulting assignment with two organizations that wanted to move from tier 2 to tier 1 in two to three years. During this assignment, we developed a tool for diagnosing employee commitment. Both firms wanted to use increased employee commitment levels as a major tool to catapult themselves into tier 1. One succeeded, and the other fared just about average.

Both of the organizations recognized that unless all the employees put their shoulders to the wheel, the movement into tier 1 was going to be difficult and would take much longer to achieve. Firm A was into niche segments and focused business on what could be called high-end IT and product R&D services. It developed embedded systems software, software tools, and mobile applications on technology such as WAP. It had more than 500 employees but with a relatively weaker marketing setup. It was led by a technical person and managed mostly at the executive level by people known more for their technical skills than their business skills. It had grown quite easily so far, due to its product and delivery differentiation. Firm B, with more than 600 employees and similar revenues to Firm A, was into the mass IT markets but focused on the enterprise applications market by going after implementations, systems maintenance, and high-end system integration work. It pushed toward on-site work due to the attractiveness of higher billing rates. It targeted three to four major business verticals and had a business/marketing savvy team at the helm.

Pillars of building commitment
Our experience and industry literature suggest that employee commitment can be measured by the two Rs: retention (whether the employee retains himself or herself in the organization due to positive reasons), and recommendation (whether the employee thinks highly enough of the organization to recommend to others that they join).

it was able to do an honest but superficial job. before you expect your employees to be committed to the organization's cause. The employees' evaluation of the development opportunities available within their organization is high. y y Lessons from the experience Here are conclusions that we drew after studying these two companies. Firm B ensured that this culture was part of all line managers' jobs. Companies achieve high levels of commitment not by telling employees what or how to think. That's not delegation. and allowing them to realize their creative potential. but Firm A expected the HR department to be a major catalyst in this process. but Firm B managed to communicate the "connect" of what employees were doing with the industry developments. The employees' judgment of whether they are sufficiently empowered to carry out their work effectively is high.We went about interviewing both firms' employees in informal settings. Others were lost in their own small but exciting technical "well. starting with the leaders. Employees are made to feel free to express their views or exercise their initiative. but an abrogation of your role. Since the HR department is not in a close working relationship with employees. Employees are keen to see who among the ranks top management or the middle managers talks about commitment. ." Some leaders think they can delegate their role in building commitment to the supervisors or managers below. High-commitment organizations feel free to vest authority in their employees. Employees want to see a connection between what they do and the larger realities in the industry. Employees want to see leaders who can walk their talk." which every few months would run dry. Building people is a line responsibility top management has to accept that expending energy is part of their job. Both firms provided opportunities for the employees to work on the latest technologies. We found that an employee is likely to be far more committed to a firm if the following three commitment pillars or engines are nurtured. their people invest in them. When companies invest in their people. There's no better way to do this than by providing them with opportunities to develop their abilities and skills. you display your commitment to them.on of your role. As a leader. but by listening to what they have to say. Firm A could communicate that to only a few people at the top who could see the commercial impact of the breakthroughs they were making. We realized that employee commitment can't just be built "bottom up. It's a two-way road. Convincingly holding forth the mission. y The employee's assessment of the quality of the company's leadership is high. trying to conclude what would be the engines for reaching high levels of retention and recommendation.

" If you want employees to stay committed." It provided people with collaborative. The majority of Firm A's middle and junior levels felt that they would compromise their future in the industry if they committed too much of their present to the company. Employees don't want to climb "ant hills. Employees like to hear "let's figure this out together" before they commit themselves. Firm B realized early that packaging the company environment is as important as the content. Failures. Employees want to be told about what else they can do. and core values of the company is a necessary condition. exploratory workspaces. This caused a mindset divide between the "leaders" and the "led. The leaders constantly asked themselves what kind of company people would want to work for. and no one was made to feel that it was a personal failure. Firm B realized this. training was provided to allow the employee to do better. Firm B provided their employees with an open and clear roadmap about how they would do in the industry. often resulted in finger-pointing and responsibility fixing." Failures were openly discussed. Firm A was more orthodox in its approach and wanted people to specialize and become experts in one or two areas. which had a good effect on the overall climate. give them ambitious goals. Tell them they can do it. admitted. Tell them it's okay if they fail sometimes in the pursuit. They then feel assured that they can do much more. less-risky goal setting. How does the organization deal with the lack of employee commitment? Firm B developed a method of handling this. Employees lacking in commitment were counseled in a one-to-one setting. which was then escalated to small group briefings where polite censures were used. . The message was that employees need not commit themselves in blind faith. by saying that the firm was "with the market" on several engagements. Firm A was more into incremental. Firm A wrapped itself up in lobby-oriented handling of these less-committed employees. For instance. Firm B named one of the values as "transparency in all we do. They want to see that people around them are interested in them. but not sufficient. Tell them why they can do it. Firm B kicked off several job-rotation schemes. even if they left the firm. It should percolate in a top-down manner. Employees like to work for a "happening" company." Employees want to see how lack of commitment is handled. Firm A was People don't want to follow your culture they want to jointly contribute in building a culture. if skill or knowledge was a problem. Firm B realized that people don't want a place that has "figured it all out. All this time. So there was one rule for the senior group and another for the rest. especially when they happened at middle or junior levels. Building challenges and the ability to create constructive confrontation is essential. Employees don't want to trade their future for their present.

department. . For thetopic in question our focal interest refers to ´Commitment µ which can be described as attachment and loyalty.Employees like a good "take home.employee commitment. and visits.As Guest. and consider its strengths andweaknesses in determining why managers would want it in theirworkforce. 1987 indicated. In addition this essay will also highlight whether there isany cost-effective way to secure commitment. Individuals can display thisattachment and loyalty at a variety of levels: their job. flexibility and quality of workµ ." Employees commit themselves more to an organization if they're able to articulate their company's brand to their friends and family. Mowdray:Morespecifically. organisational commitment has been defined byMowdray. but it can be achieved in a gradual. 1992 as consisting of three components: ´identificationwith the goal·s and values of theorganisation. a desire to belong tothe organisation and a willingness to display effort on behalf of theorganisation. and honest manner. Firm B built a bond with a constant exchange of information.µ This essay will therefore analyse the notion oforganisational commitment. Realistically then. Employee commitment can be tough to understand. HRMpolicies are designed to ´maximiseorganisationalintegration. transparent. ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITTMENT The concept of organisational commitment has attracted considerableattention over recent years and has become a central objective ofhuman resource management. profession. merchandise. Firm A was more straitjacketed in this respect. commitmentmay therefore be diverse and divided between any of these. boss or organisation.

were necessaryfor companies to ´get their culture rightµ. Identification and Internalisation. which have had asignificant effect on the importance and development of commitment. since October. One can therefore questionwhether the concept of organisational commitment is now becomingredundant?People constantly fear their jobs and loose theirmotivation and commitment to work. For example. theneed for affiliation or achievement and the desire for meaningfulwork. This view recognises that people are motivatedby a complex set of factors that are interrelated. Their main focus was anemphasis on productivity through people. He suggested that workers respond best not when they aretightly controlled by management. Similarly Meyer & Allen have proposed a three-component model. such as the article written by Walton ´From controlto commitmentµ .The first one highlights the ´hard µ school of HRM. thousands of job cuts have been announced across all sectors of . which highlights affective commitment (individuals want to be attached to the organisation) . Taylorism:. This bond has three forms:Compliance.Contrary to this view is the´soft µ school of HRM.. Peters & Waterman Writers such as Peters & Waterman. 1982. placed in narrowly defined jobsand told what to do but instead when they are given broaderresponsibilities and encouraged to participate. the´job for lifeµ is no longer existent.e.Hard School and Soft School of HRM There are two schools of thought of HRM. People were seen as aresource to be spent like any other. Thesevarious types of commitment will have varying effects on theorganisation·s performance and a person can display aspects of all ofthem. (the culture-excellenceapproach) focused on 8 attributes. which they said. continuance commitment (individuals feel they need to be attached to the organisation) and normative commitment(individuals feel they ought to remain with the organisation). such as money. 2008. This view focuses on employees as potential talents and it is management·s responsibility to learn how best to attract and retainthese resources. Walton A shift in the thinking and values of managers during that periodwas coupled with various writers emphasising the importance ofcommitment i.Meyer & Allen The term commitment can be defined in various ways. Up until the 1980·s the main concerns ofmanagement were the organisation·s strategy and structure with an emphasis on the technical aspects of work. In today·s dynamic world and increased job insecurity. which has its origins in Taylorism.Walton saw a commitment strategy as a morerewarding approach to HRM in contrast to the traditional controlstrategy.

with only 22%feeling secure in their jobs. Highly committed employees wish to remainassociated with the organisation and advance organisational goals. if employees withcontinuance commitment are staying in the organisation becausethey are not able to get jobs elsewhere this won·t help theproductivity of the organisation. organisations areincreasingly relying on ´outsourcingµ to meet their labour forcerequirements. by hiring temporary workers or independentcontractors. In . writers have cited various reasons why anorganisation would want to increase the level of commitment amongits members. RoyalBank of Scotland. otherwise they won·t exert as much effort in achieving organizational objectives. new ideas. In addition. whether it is theorganisation they were originally employed by or the place they arecurrently working.the UK economy. insurance giant Norwich Union. This insecurity is the root of lack of feelgood factor.e. In general. which ensures a return on the investment in carefulselection. This highlights a positiverelationship between the level of organisational commitment and jobtenure.. However having a low labourturnover is not always a positive factor. Employees need to be reassured that their jobs are secure. These include companies such as BAE Systems. Research has found that the more committed the employee is to theorganisation. the greater the effort exerted by the employee inperforming tasks. Furthermore Meyer & Allen have illustrated a positively correlated relationship between affective commitment and work attendance.It has been argued that having a committed workforceis seen as the key factor in achieving competitive performance .Lloyds Banking Group. nevertheless there will always be a core group of workers and it is important to retain theircommitment to the organisation. and more diverse thinking.This highlights further complexities. A climate of fear has been created for those people remaining.Numerical flexibility has been a predominant feature of recent years. concerning which company the employee is committed to i. However one must consider that even if organisationsare moving towards ´the flexible firmµ. In addition.with 'downsizing' and 'delayering' being an obsession of many largecompanies. For example in times ofchange some turnover is desirable to bring in new people. TelecomsCompany Nortel and many more. Furthermore commitment also conflicts with the notion of flexibility. training and development.and are therefore less likely to leave (employee retention is seen tobe highest with all forms of commitment). A study by the International Survey Research revealed that British staff are the most dissatisfied in the EU. Japanese electronics firm Toshiba.

Research undertaken by DeCotis& Summers. However in the presence of other studies. Even though the link between them is not very strong.. affective commitment could lead to negative consequences for life beyond the organisation. However one must bear in mind how reliable these questions are. Committed workers can be expected to exercise responsible autonomy or self-control.e.particular ´suspicious typeµ absences were lower i. which implies that employees will go that extra mile for the company. there seems to be a stronger association with extra-rolebehaviour and affective commitment. 87 displayed no correlation between performance dimensions and manager·s affective commitment. This has been positively correlated to self-reported measures of work effort and to adherence toorganisational policy. Therefore obtaining affective and normative commitment from employees may have positive effects for the organisation. The underlying assumption is that they will work harder at their jobs and perform them better than those with weaker commitment.e.16 On the personal level. Further. Further research has investigated the link between organisational commitment and the delivery of service quality. it is found that organisational commitment is strongly tied to role ambiguity and teamwork as antecedents of the service delivery gap17. working in an environment in which one is positive about has implications for reduced stress levels.. Therefore commitment in the workforce moves away from the traditional psychological contract of a ´fair days work for a fair day·s pay µ and instead to a contract. a committed worker will be more eager about their job and more motivated to dedicate a lot of time and effort to accomplish the tasks required. even though some of the magnitudes of the findings are not very high. Employees with strong affective commitment are more willing to engage in citizenshipbehaviour than those with weaker affective commitment. Hence. that simply ask the employee whether they were off work for voluntary or involuntary reasons? In-role job performance has been reported to be higher for employees with strong affective commitment. one must take into consideration that in times of organisational change. employees with affective commitment may be . there are benefits for strong affective commitment i. removing the need for supervisory staff and producing efficiency gains.these results may appear conflicting. Alternatively.Thus we can postulate that the association between performance and affective commitment is neither very strong nor is the effect on performance very large. However Meyer & Allen have refuted this claim.

The key findings showed that only 9% strongly agree that their views and participation are valued by their organisation and that only 27% are strongly committed to help their organisation succeed.a barrier to change. It also shows that low levels of commitment are portrayed across all levels of staff: managers are only slightly more committed than non-managers to organisational goals. such as recruitment and selection. Similarly. 18 These are startling results. It is essential to reinforce a sense of self-worth within newcomers. This is done through various methods such as psychometric testing. After the initial recruitment of an employee. and show no more understanding of goals than their staff. it is hardly surprising that our respondents feel unvalued. also play an important role in gaining employee commitment (Meyer & Allen). 199121. Kevin Thomson quotes: ´With the one-way process of communication failing in many UK companies. Other HR practices. preentry expectations or organisational choice variables. due to personal characteristics. because if managers lack commitment how can they possibly be expected to manage and motivate others? Good communication and feedback between management and employees is a means to reduce these problems. applicants are better able to determine whether the job is appropriate for them. employees should feel valued and recognised by management. training is an important part of the socialisation process. which can be achieved through a supportive environment. If they are aware of the available choices. selection procedures try to identify those individuals who are likely to be committed to work. induction training andsocialisation are carried out. To stay committed. A positive relationship between communication and commitment was detected highlighting the importance for management to ensure that communication channels remain open to allow for better transmission of information. applicants will be more dedicated to the organisation that they opt for. By providing realistic job previews and accurate information. However organisations can increase employee commitment by providing them with fair and reasonable working practices in a rather cost-effective way. This is because they are committed to a single set of values and goals and won·t be able to cope with prevalent uncertainties and as a result may resist this change.µ. However all individuals vary in their propensity to become committed. which are vital in gaining employee commitment. A current survey highlighted that the majority of employees in Britain's biggest organisations feel undervalued and 1 uninvolved. According to Tannenbaum. He found a strong .

reward for training. (which is 100% owned by its employees) and Pfizer. But it·s much more difficult to provide evidence. tend to can also decrease affective commitment. it·s easy for organisations to say that people are our most important assets or the source of our competitive advantage. In conclusion. Huselid·s use of ´High Performance Work Practicesµ indicates a decrease in turnover and higher levels of productivity and corporate financial success. this factor should be increased to improve an employee·s systems or benefits. For example.This can be done by providing performance appraisals.24 However ESOP·s . which have implemented ESOP·s. Training should be continuous to give employees a Job satisfaction is said to have the largest effect on commitment. consideration needs to be given to these schemes. commitment to an organisation. which are perceived as fair and satisfactory. Finnigan. It is therefore possible for organisations to influence their employees· commitment through HRM policies and practices. This emphasises the importance for organisations to display fairness across all their practices and policies. the fairness in the decision making process is crucial for commitment. Since there is a positive relationship between satisfaction with performance appraisal and commitment22. which are by its employees).This method positively affects employee motivation and makes them feel owners of the company. Research suggests that companies. However the difficulty with these policies is that they don·t operate in isolation and need to be compatible with the overall business strategy. sense of recognition and the feeling that their development is valued Therefore. especially at a time boost employee productivity and sales growth. because they require employees to stay for a period of time to receive their contribution. Research undertaken by John E. management need to ensure that their performance appraisal systems is perceived by employees to be fair before they can expect higher commitment from them. British Petroleum. increasing costs to the organisation. Companies. indicates that perception of the organisations· values is the strongest predictor of employee commitment. In terms of assessment and promotion. The organisation should communicate clearly how decisions are made and why some people and not others did get promotions. But if done effectively they can produce positive results. In terms of pursuing a costeffective method.positive correlation between commitment and employee·s motivation by the organisation. Compensation programmes such as ESOP·s can create a sense of commitment within the organisation.

undertaking this method. are United Airlines (which is 55% owned when downsizing is so prevalent. keeping such an employee should be a high priority to the organisation. Advantages of gaining employee commitment have been perceived to be lower labour turnover. However by placing organisational commitment at the core of the definition of HRM is an attempt to ´win the hearts and minds of the workforceµ. better product quality and employee flexibility leading to the firms· competitive advantage. extra rolebehaviour. given the contribution that a highly productive trained employee can make to organisational productivity. We must bear in mind that the focus of commitment ´goes further than simple compliance:it is an emotional attachment to the organisationµ. Therefore the way people are managed has a major impact on their commitment and on organisational performance. increased participation. good communication. more supportive management and reasonable rewards. Organisations can secure this commitment by engaging in fair HR practices such as procedural justice. Thus. .