Affective commitment is a psychology term that causes many people to ask, “What is affective commitment?” This term refers to the tendency of a worker to stay at a company because of their emotional attachment to the firm. Understanding the parts of affective commitment could help an industrial or organizational psychologist provide improved services during their session with workers who are unsure of their futures, undecided about a new opportunity or frustrated with their current place within a business.
Engagement With the Company
People with affective commitment have an unusually high level of engagement with their company. They are likely to wear their work gear when not at work. They may attend all work-related events and social functions that take place outside of work hours. These employees are often the first to sign up or volunteer for additional training or responsibilities. The workers arrive early and stay to the end of all meetings. They are wary to say anything negative or critical toward their managers or the company.
Identification With the Business
A person with affective commitment identifies closely with the company where they work. If a stranger, potential romantic partner or the President of the United States were to ask them about themselves, they would likely state their relationship with the company before anything else. For example, the worker might say, “I am an accountant at XYZ firm. I handle their real estate transactions and have worked there for 17 years.” They might leave out the fact that they are an accomplished guitar player, avid gardener, parent or world traveler. They see themselves as an extension of the company when they are out in the community.
Internalization of the Company’s Objectives
Workers with affective commitment internalize the company’s objectives. They take it personally when the company does not meet objectives, and they feel that the company’s successes are equivalent to their own successes. They take company policies seriously. Their coworkers may think that they are overzealous or even too quick to agree with management when new rules or regulations are issued. Employees with affective commitment live to work instead of working to live.
Loyalty in the Face of Attractive External Opportunities
An employee with affective commitment will stay at their current place of employment even if they are offered a new, higher paying job at a different company. Even if the new job offers more prestige, better benefits or an improvement in work hours or conditions, the employee is likely to stay with their current employer out of a sense of attachment as well as obligation. According to Zachary Mercurio in the Human Resource Development Review, the employee’s perceived costs of staying where they are employed are less than the perceived costs of making a change. Repetitive actions may also play a role in affective commitment.
Becoming familiar with the signs of affective commitment, why it happens and how it impacts a worker allows a psychologist to optimize their counseling services. It also gives the psychologist an opportunity to help people who may be in a situation that is not beneficial to them now or in the future. Knowing the answer to the question of “What is affective commitment?” sets up an organizational or industrial psychologist to expand their range of services.