October 24, 2016


Everyone has had an enthusiastic colleague or friend, who was excited by the challenges of his or her position, and imagined working towards a brilliant career with his or her employer, but who, after a few months or even years, admits being completely disillusioned, admits to doing only the bare minimum, and to even considering leaving the organization.

So what happened?

Organizational commitment is a psychological state stemming from the relationship between employee and organization, which influences the employee’s decision to make an effort for the company.

Organizational commitment is made up of three dimensions: affective commitment, continuance commitment, and normative commitment. Employees with high affective commitment remain within the organization because they want to. Those with high continuance commitment remain because they have no other choice (e.g. financial reasons, difficulty finding another job). Finally, those with high normative commitment remain with the organization because they feel indebted to it.

According to a number of studies, commitment—especially affective commitment—is directly related to mobilization and, consequently, to job performance, service quality, and corporate behaviour. According to Wils and Tremblay (2006), a committed person may be more inclined to willingly adopt roles with essential functions aiming to help others improve performance, improve social climate, and contribute to others’ well-being and the company’s continued existence. These discretionary or mobilizing behaviours are particularly desirable from the organization’s point of view, because they help to achieve the desired results while reducing the need to establish formal and expensive control mechanisms. However, according to a survey by Deloitte-Global Human Capital Trends (2014), 79% of organizations in 130 countries feel they have a significant problem with employee retention and engagement.

Why does an employee lose interest? Many reasons can explain this lack of engagement: changes in direction, employees no longer recognize their place within the new orientations; they no longer see the point in their tasks or in the roles they are assigned within the organization; lack of participation in the decision-making process, a lack of information; increased monitoring; a poor relationship with their immediate superior or their colleagues; lack of recognition of skills, achievements, or efforts; excessive workloads, salary freezing, few opportunities for advancement, geographic location, etc.

You can begin by:

  1. Sharing information

Sharing information means not only disseminating it, but also receiving it. Communicating organizational expectations, explaining the decisions to be made, listening to the employees’ ideas, opinions, and concerns, and trying to give answers will make employees feel mutual respect and consideration, and will likely motivate them to work harder.

  1. Sharing power means giving employees flexibility, consulting them, encouraging them to participate in the decision-making process, and recognizing their potential.
  2. Focusing on competency development sends the message that human resources are a competitive advantage.
  3. Rewarding means recognizing efforts, contributions, and the creation of added value (Lawler III, 1992, Tremblay, Guay and Simard, 2000).

“If you are leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” John Maxwell

Murielle Laberge
Professor of Industrial Relations
Université du Québec en Outaouais


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