What is affective commitment?
Affective commitment is an employee’s emotional commitment to the organization they work for. When employees feel strong affective commitment, they will be more loyal, engaged and will work harder to realize organizational goals.
This type of commitment is often a direct result of organizational management practices. When the organization is able to create an environment where employees feel like they belong and feel supported in their wellbeing, their affective commitment will be higher.
Affective commitment is one of three components of organizational commitment, together with normative commitment and continuance commitment. Normative commitment is the feeling of moral obligation employees have through moral duty and indebtedness to the organization. Continuance commitment is the cost the employee associates with leaving the organization.
Why is affective commitment important?
Affective commitment indicates dedication and loyalty to the organization they work for. Employees with high affective commitment identify with the organization, feel like they belong, and are willing to pursue the organization’s goals.
This increases their involvement in organizational activities, boosts their engagement and productivity, and makes them more likely to remain with the organization long-term.
How to increase affective commitment
Organizations can increase affective commitment by creating a better employee experience in multiple ways like:
- Providing support to employees
- Ensuring good management practices
- Rewarding employees fairly
- Creating procedural justice
The ways to improve affective commitment are specified in the table below. Do note that it is all about how the employee perceives things, not how things objectively are.
If the supervisor thinks they care about the opinions and wellbeing of employees, but employees don’t have that perception, affective commitment will remain low.
|Organizational support||Management practices|
|- Caring about the employee’s wellbeing and treating them fairly|
- Considering employee’s goals and values
- Helping when employees need a favor or have a problem
- Forgiving mistakes
|- Supervisor cares about employee’s opinion|
- Supervisor cares about employee’s wellbeing- Supervisor considers employee’s goals and values
- Supervisor shows concern for employee
|Procedural justice||Rewarding fairly|
|- Decisions are communicated transparently|
- Employees are involved in important decisions
- Employees feel heard
|- Good work is recognized|
- Opportunities for advancement
- Opportunities for high earnings
Affective commitment interventions
Example interventions that will drive affective commitment include:
- Management training. High-quality management practices will build affective commitment. Great managers care about employees’ opinions and wellbeing, and strive to align the employees' goals and values with the organization's goals.
- Increasing transparency. More transparency will help to create a perception of procedural justice. Employees will better understand why decisions are made and will feel decisions are communicated transparently.
- Increase employee involvement and autonomy. When employees feel they can influence key decisions, they will feel more involved, and, as a result, commitment will increase. This can be done by involving employees in major decisions or granting them the autonomy to make certain decisions themselves.
- Fair rewards. Employees feeling rewarded fairly for their work will increase their affective commitment. Organizations can do this by offering opportunities for career advancements and increases in earnings. A great example of this is career pathing.
- Supporting employees and building resilience. Many ‘traditional’ good HR practices like caring for employees and their wellbeing, helping employees, and seeing mistakes as learning opportunities are also highly effective in increasing affective commitment.
Organizations should not see affective commitment in isolation, as organizational commitment comprises two other components, all of which impact each other.
Measuring affective commitment
Affective commitment is measured as part of the three-component model (TCM), which measures normative, affective, and continuance commitment. This scale was developed by Meyer, Allen, and Smith and revisited by Jaros. Example items measuring affective commitment include:
- I am very happy to be a member of this organization.
- I enjoy discussing my organization with people outside it.
- I really feel as if this organization’s problems are my own.
- I think that I could easily become as attached to another organization as I am to this one. (Reversed)
- I do not feel like ‘part of the family’ at my organization. (Reversed)
- I do not feel ‘emotionally attached’ to this organization. (Reversed)
- This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me.
- I do not feel a ‘strong’ sense of belonging to my organization. (Reversed)