What develops a new employee’s commitment to the organisation?  - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

What develops a new employee’s commitment to the organisation? 

organisational commitment

A paper just published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour looks at what makes a difference to new employees’ commitment to the organization.

  1. Organisational Commitment
  2. Older New Employees
  3. Skills
  4. Own Initiative
  5. Progression
  6. Summary
  7. Reference

Be impressively well-informed

Get your FREE organizational and people development research briefings, infographics, video research briefings, a free copy of The Oxford Review and more...

Powered by ConvertKit

Organizational commitment

Organizational commitment has been positively associated with a range of outcomes like productivity, intention to stay, engagement in organizational citizenship behaviours, for example. A number of previous studies have shown that new employees’ organizational commitment tends to decline significantly over the first few years. However a small number (about 30%) of employees actually strengthen their commitment to the organization over the first three years of their employment.

The question the researchers wanted to answer was what was it that contributes to the growth in commitment to the organization for this minority of people. Was it something that the organization was doing or has this phenomenon got more to do with personal characteristics and personality?

The researchers from universities in Brazil and the Netherlands looked at 154 new employees and followed their progress over three years.

Older new employees

The first thing they found was it was the older new employees that had a higher commitment to the organization at the end of the study, with the younger new employees tending to be the first to reduce their commitment to the organization. Not only that but it was also found, somewhat counter-intuitively, that older new employees also had lower levels of what is known as ‘work centrality’. What this means is that the older employees tended to view work as just a part of their life as opposed to work being a dominant force in their lives which is seen as a factor in growing organizational commitment.


The researchers also found that the more the person’s skills and experience matched the role (high person-job fit) and the more that the tasks and jobs undertaken challenged the skills of the individual the more likely their organizational commitment would grow instead of decline. However there is a balance to be struck because it was found that employees who feel overloaded and overwhelmed by the amount of work with no mechanism for managing the workload correlates with rapidly declining organizational commitment. This last issue, it was found, centered around their relationship with their direct manager. Good managers can have a significant impact on organizational commitment.

Own initiative

Next they found that people who are more likely to work on their own initiative (and where the organization allows them to do so), who make decisions and who feel that they can be productive are also most likely to develop a growing commitment to the organization.


Lastly people who have a sense of progression (promotion or specialization) also tend to have a strengthening commitment to the organization.


So if you are employing people who are in the 30% of employees who strengthen their commitment to your organization over the first three years go for someone:

1.    Who is older

2.    Who has outside interests and doesn’t live, eat and breathe work

3.    Whose skills fit the role closely and is likely to find the job challenging without getting overloaded and

4.    Who can work on their own initiative.

But you have to allow them to work on their own initiative and provide good management, not micro-management.

Reference – available to members

Be impressively well informed

Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published

Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...

Powered by ConvertKit
Like what you see? Help us spread the word

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page