North Central Business Journal News
GETTING REALLY COMMITTED EMPLOYEES
(February 2001 issue)
by Sandra Kay Neal, Ph.D.
The labor market continues to be tight. Employers need to
retain good employees because finding new employees of equal ability is
difficult. To increase the likelihood of high retention, employers
have tried to increase the commitment of their employees to their company.
There are two types of organizational commitment. Continuance
Commitment means that employees feel obligated to remain with their
current employer because they need health care and/or retirement benefits.
Commitment means that employees have an emotional attachment to their
While both types of commitment increase the likelihood of employees
remaining with their current employer, only Affective Commitment is connected
to other aspects which employers value, such as high productivity, high
attendance, and willingness to do extra things that benefit the company.
Continuance Commitment is achieved by providing high levels
of health care benefits or invested pensions. These now-standard
perks help reduce turnover because employees cannot afford to leave their
company. But they do nothing to help achieve Affective Commitment.
In fact, many employees may stay with their company physically but not
provide the quality of work which employers desire. There are many
employees who, although physically present, are engaged in poor quality
performance or petty theft as means of acting out anger and irritation
at their employer. Increasing health care or retirement benefits
will not improve performance nor reduce employee theft.
To achieve Affective Commitment, employers need to help
their employees value participation in the company. Employees need
to feel pride in helping to achieve the company’s mission. Improving
Affective Commitment does not usually involve added expense to employers.
It requires a change in communication tactics. Companies need to
stress the broad goals for which the company is striving. The connection
between the tasks of employees and the goals of the company needs to be
strengthened so that employees can see how important their work is to the
total picture. Managers and supervisors need to go out of their way
to demonstrate respect for their employees. Recognizing exceptional
employees in a company newsletter, giving special rewards like close-in
parking spaces, or clothing with the company logo, or having an Employee
of the Month are useful tactics that increase the likelihood of developing
Affective Commitment. These tactics are most helpful if they are
intentionally publicized in connection with the company’s mission.
The more the employees value being part of the company, the more likely
they are both to stay with the company and to work hard for the company.
And then everyone benefits.
Sandra Kay Neal holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational
Psychology and has 19 years experience helping organizations solve human
resource issues.. Her company, Synergistic Organizational Solutions, specializes
in aiding small businesses. Dr. Neal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.