Employee Competency and Organizational Commitment

Abstract

Many studies have highlighted the concept of organizational commitment and in most the cases; it has been related to employee performance, job satisfaction, and job involvement. This paper will highlight organizational commitment in relation to employee performance, job satisfaction, and job involvement along with employees’ level of skills and competency.

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Introduction

Organizational commitment has gained an increased importance in the field of organizational behavior and organizational psychology. Many authors have defined this term in various ways but most importantly, organizational commitment has been defined as the psychological commitment of an employee with his or her organization. Work-related attitudes of the employees including job commitment, and job performance are two factors that are connected to organizational commitment. These attitudes have been defined as the feelings of an employee towards his or her job (Spencer, and Spencer, 2008, p. 23).

Organizational commitment has been linked to job competencies exhibited by the employees. Job competency has been defined as the set of skills acquired by an employee in an organization to be successful in the job. These competencies include decision-making, creativity, flexibility, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, leadership, judgment, job motivation, and most importantly team building and teamwork. Thereby competence for any employee is an important factor in order to be more productive in his or her work in an organization. By this means, there is a direct relationship between job competency and job performance. Job competencies are inclusive of work-related factors as efficiency, promptness, and the ability to work. These factors decide if an employee is to be rewarded for better performance or not. Thereby there is an additional need to understand the relationship between job performance and employee’s competency as it can help the organizations in making the right decisions in terms of choosing an employee.

Most of the research has been conducted on work-related attitudes and job performance of employees. However recently more focus has been given to the relationship between organizational commitment and job performance. Lesser number of studies have highlighted the relationship between organizational commitment and job performance. However, it has been argued that global attitudes of employees towards the organizations, including organizational commitment, have a direct relationship with organization-oriented outcomes that also include employee performance. In many studies, it has been found that as compared to job satisfaction, organizational commitment was closely related to a greater degree to employee performance. Here it can be concluded that with an increase in the levels of organizational commitment, there is an increased improvement in job performance shown by employees (Van Dyne, & Pierce, 2004, p. 439).

Moreover, it has been added and asserted in studies that job satisfaction is a transitory factor as compared to organizational commitment. Thereby, global attitudes of employees towards an organization are more influential on work performance. Researchers including Walker, & Fox-Rushley, (2001) have argued that the factor of job satisfaction is transitory for better work performance. In other words, it can be argued that job satisfaction is related to shorter measures of job performance; whereas organizational commitment is related to long-time measures of job performance. Organizational commitment has been termed as a highly valuable factor that influences employee performance in a great manner. Thereby in an indirect manner, organizational commitment is related to performance levels of an organization. This improvement in performance in relation to organizational commitment stems from the fact that a committed employee will work in accordance with the values and goals that have been defined by an organization (Wallace, 2000, p. 21).

Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between morale of employees, their levels of competencies, and organizational commitment; leading to organizational success. In this case, it has been argued that if managers within an organization work on relationship-based leadership, there are chances of an increase in core competency levels of the employees throughout an organization. This strategy can in turn cause an improvement in employee retention rates with an increase in job involvement (Hosie, Sevastos, and Cooper, 2006, p. 56).

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It has been suggested by the social exchange theory that there is a link between attitudes shown by employees in times of organizational change, during employee-manager relationship; and trust with the organization; with the employees’ level of organizational commitment (Ajzen, 2001, p. 30).

With a continuous increase in globalization, an increase in the level of competition between the organizations caused an increase in pressures faced by employees in order to stay competitive. Thereby the only option that the organizations have is to make radical internal changes (Ratmawati, 2007, p. 557). Major organizations make changes that often include mergers, downsizings, and acquisitions and in some cases layoffs; as these changes are made in face of increasing pressures. On the other hand, it has been argued that these changes cause greater changes within an organization by changing working attitudes of the employees. It can be argued here that attitudes shown by the employees at an individual level could be of decisive nature based on the acceptance level of organizational change (Fretwell, 2002, p. 3).

An importance of organizational commitment has been thoroughly realized at an organizational level (Yang, and Xin, 2007, p. 89). Many studies have proposed a positive relationship between organizational commitment and employee performance (Chatterjee, 2009, p. 8).

These days, there is a great chance of losing jobs because of increased competition, increased financial pressures on the organizations as a result of globalization, thus there are greater risks related to job insecurity. Thereby one of the main factors that have to be taken into consideration is that employees are afraid of losing their jobs and this insecurity is in some cases reflective in their performance. Thereby one solution that has been proposed is that employees need to be assured of their jobs being secure. Otherwise as observed, in face of job insecurity, employees do not exert efforts to work and because of lower level of competitiveness shown in their work, they lose jobs. There is a need to increase competency in the employees; thereby there is a need that the managers to make sure that employees do not face fears of losing jobs (Riggio, 2002, p. 78).

On the other hand, another important notion that has been added to the concept of commitment of employees is ‘flexibility. This flexibility includes numerical flexibility that has been seen in case of major companies and these include downsizing and delayering. As a result of this, there is a constant sense of fear in employees left behind in the organization and this causes a great reduction in employee performance (Golembiewski, 2001, p. 67). Another main concept that has been included by many studies is that many organizations have started to outsource major portions of their business to other companies. Outsourcing has now been considered as an option as it provides the organizations with an additional labor force at cost-effective rates by hiring temporary workers and in some cases independent contractors (Mathis, and Jackson, 2008, p. 67).

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Literature Review

Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment has been often defined as an involvement and identification of an employee with his organization while having a firm belief on values and goals that an organization has; making efforts for the organization keeping in mind its success and most importantly, desire of an employee to remain as a part of an organization for a longer time.

Many studies have highlighted the relationship between work-related attitudes of employees and their job performance. Earlier studies and researches have focused on job satisfaction with work-related outcomes including employee turnover rates. Recent studies have started focusing on organizational commitment as an important predictor of job performance. Roles that are to be played by the professionals have received a great deal of attention over the past few years. It has been argued that professional level of commitment with an organization is the desired quality of an employee, required for the organizational success.

Here it is important to highlight the definition of commitment that has been commonly adopted by the researchers (D’Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, and Watson, 2004, p. 49). Commitment in its simplest form has been defined as the level of dedication or devotion of an employee towards his or her organization. It has been recognized that employees who are more devoted towards an organization, seem to be serious in remaining attached to their organization for a longer period by having intentions of their devotion and work being counted as a factor of success of their organization. On the other hand, employees who are less dedicated and devoted towards their organizations are least concerned and connected to values and goals set by their organization. Thereby there is a great deal of relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment. In case of organizational commitment, three models have been given (Cooper, 2003, p. 56).

  1. Effective commitment is reflective of an employee having positive emotional attachment towards his or her organization. This model has defined that an effectively committed employee is more attached to his or her organization and the work-related attitudes relate to goals and values that the organization has. Commitment of the employees towards their organizations is reflective of their personal wishes and desires to keep working for their organizations for longer periods (Staw, 2006, p. 59).
  2. An employee shows continuance commitment when there is a fear of losing membership in his organization, as the organizational membership can award an employee with some long-term benefits. These benefits include social and economic benefits that an employee can have while working for the organization. Thereby as compared to affective commitment, employee feels that he ‘has to remain a part of the organization.
  3. Normative commitment reflects an employee having an obligation towards an organization. Many sources of this obligation have been defined and these include an obligation towards the resources that were invested in an employee during his training.

Recently, as a result of development in the field of managerial sciences, a shift in management paradigms followed in the organizations has been suggested. Here it can be argued that an organization can be regarded as a successful organization if it has higher levels of intellectual capital, inclusive of employee competency and commitment to the organization. In this case, competency refers to the level of competency that the managers have in order to improve commitment levels of their employees.

These days there has been a major shift in human resources and from ‘dependable employees’, ideology has shifted to ‘empowered employees’ (Callaway, 2007, p. 78). Human resources are completely dependent on dependable employees working in accordance with all commands from the higher authorities. On the other hand, empowered employees use their skills, knowledge and innovation in order to accomplish tasks with better results without step-by-step and systematic guidance from higher authorities. Thereby, difference between these two categories of employees arises from their respective competency levels. There is a great difference between organizations working with dependable employees and the organizations working with empowered employees. Thereby organizational commitment is directly linked to employee competency that leads to an increased employee commitment (Clinebell, & Shadwick, 2005, p. 95).

Job Involvement and Organizational Commitment

Job involvement has been defined as ways in which an employee perceives his or her job in the light of relationship that exists between him, his working environment and how their work and life are interrelated (Cohen, 2003, p. 45).

In many studies, job involvement has been referred to as organizational commitment. Primary job of a manager of an organization is to analyze and predict working behaviors of the employees. Many observations and studies have indicated that managers within the organizations have tried to influence work-related attitudes of employees in order to bring desired behavioral changes (Leong, Huang, & Hsu, 2003, p. 362). These changes rely on a set of moderating variables. These variables include an importance of employee attitudes with its convenience and specific nature, and more importantly, awareness within the employees about their attitudes being linked to their work-related behaviors. This kind of attitude-behavior relationship has highlighted the fact that attitudes are the finest predictors of future behaviors taking into consideration the variables mentioned (Scandura, & Williams, 2000, p. 1249).

In some cases, it has been observed that managers have used different kinds of organizational and influential tactics in order to make changes in employees’ attitudes. Among all work-related attitudes, job involvement and organizational commitment have received most of the attention. Attitudes being important predictors of working behaviors, are inclusive of intentions of an employee to leave the organization, emotional and psychological attachment with the organization, level of professional commitment, ethical behavior is shown by the employee, decreased conflict and role indistinctness, and most importantly; acceptance for a change in the organization (Neider, and Schriesheim, 2007, p. 34).

Various categories of employees have been defined in accordance with the level of job involvement. In this case, it has been argued that employees having higher levels of job involvement have higher levels of caring attitudes towards their jobs and better performance-related outcomes are observed. Secondly, employees having an effective level of organizational commitment are more sincere, have a positive feeling about their organization and wish to remain a part of their organization for a longer time. Third category of employees has higher levels of job involvement and organizational commitment. These employees stand out as compared to the employees belonging to the other two categories, as these are behaviorally more motivated towards their jobs and organizations (Madsen, Miller, & John, 2005, p. 214). On an alternative end, it has been argued that working conditions within an organization can sometimes be alienating in which case; over-working employees may seclude themselves from work and organization, thus including themselves in unconcerned employees (Hirschfeld, & Field, 2000, p. 790).

Employees having lower levels of job involvement forget the main purpose of their jobs. Moreover, employees may end up feeling separated from their work having a distinct feeling of being separated because of having different perceptions towards life and work. Here it can be added that effective organizational commitment has a greater effect on employees’ attitudes towards work as compared to roles defined by job involvement (Bratton, and Gold, 2001, p. 67). Thereby organization managers can effectively work on strengthening organizational commitment rather than working on job involvement as these changes can bring in the most beneficial work-related attitudes. On the other hand, it has been argued that in the presence of negative influences on employee’s commitment to an organization, there are chances of dramatic changes in attitudes and work-related behaviors that can cause the employees to become apathetic towards their work and organizations (Freund, 2005, p. 17).

It has been observed and analyzed by the researchers that higher the level of commitment of an employee towards his or her organization, greater is the number of efforts exerted during task performance. Highly committed employees are observed to remain associated with an organization for longer periods and they wish to bring major changes within an organization by advancing an organization’s goals. This leads to increased rates of employee retention (Zingheim, Ledford Jr. and Schuster, 1996, p. 58). It has been reported in many studies that employees having higher levels of commitment have been observed to perform in a better manner in-role job performance. Here one important assumption shows that as compared to employees having weaker commitment levels, employees with higher commitment levels will perform better and will work harder. This has been reported to be correlated to self-reported measures of work efforts and adherence to the policies and goals of an organization. Strong citizenship behavior is seen in employees who are more committed as compared to their counterparts. Higher responsibility levels are reflected in committed employees when given an autonomy or self-control as compared to lesser-committed employees thus reducing the need for a supervisory staff and guidance (Hellriegel, and Slocum, 2007, p. 78).

Propositions

Organizational Commitment and Employee Competency

If organizations need to increase the level of organizational commitment in the employees, one of the most important factors that are in a need to be considered is the employees’ needs. Needs of the employees can have a direct link with the employees’ level of competency and commitment towards work and organization. Four main groups of employees’ needs can be included and highlighted here.

  1. ‘Acceptance’ can be regarded as an employee’s need. It is to be considered that the employees need to be a part of their organization on a greater level so that there is a development of identification with written and unwritten rules (Drummond, & Chell, 2001, p. 187).
  2. ‘Appreciation’ can be highlighted as the need of receiving positive feedback for all the handwork that has been done, being counted as a factor of success of the organization. Employees within the organization are to be rewarded and appreciated for their hard work and efforts.
  3. Apart from above needs, an important need that can be included here is the need for proper guidance. With the help of ‘proper guidance’, employees can feel safer in case of what to do and in what ways can the tasks be achieved in order to get results.
  4. ‘Self-fulfillment’ can be included as the fourth category of need of employees. This category can be inclusive of the employees who are more aware of level of competency and skills that they have and when these can be used to successfully achieve the goals of an organization (Griffin, and Moorhead, 2009, p. 67).

Thereby to increase competency level in the employees, it is obligatory that the organizations define strategies that can channel energies, skills and competencies of employees for successful achievement of corporate success. These strategies can help find a link between employees’ competencies and an increase in employee satisfaction. Observations can be made by the organization managers in case of satisfaction level of employees as there might be a possibility that the employees are more satisfied and competitive when they are mobilized and challenged in their workplaces by having clear directions from their higher authorities.

Employee Attitude and Organizational Commitment

There can be a direct link between employees’ attitudes and organizational changes. If changes within an organization are positive as better progress, increased output/customer satisfaction/sales volume and market shares, positive changes can be seen employees’ attitudes, which possibly can cause an increase in the level of organizational commitment. Along with an improvement in employees’ work-related attitudes, these positive changes can also accompany improvement in the relationship between manager and employee along with an increase in trust with higher authorities.

Employee Performance and Organizational Commitment

There can be a direct link between performance of an organization and organizational commitment. This is because an employee who is more committed towards his or her organization will be performing in accordance with values and goals that are set by the organization. There is a likelihood of a positive relationship between organizational commitment and employee performance. This positive relationship can be dependent on many factors and these possibly can be inclusive of the level of efforts exerted by the employees during performing tasks. Positive outcomes for an organization can be numerous but important ones because better organizational commitment can include greater rates of employee retention, lower turnover rates, improved work attendance, a possible increase in willingness to work harder in order to engage in citizenship behavior and better service quality.

Employees are an important asset of an organization and they are the only source of success and better competition. Organizations must place commitments at the core of definition of better employee performance and human resource management strategies.

Conclusion

Higher authorities in many organizations must bear in mind that commitment should be more focused on going a step ahead than simple compliance, as commitment is much more than an emotional attachment towards an organization. Thereby an important factor that plays role in increasing job performance and organizational commitment is the way in which these employees are controlled. There are many advantages of gaining employee commitment for an organization and these mostly include increased role behavior, lower turnover rates, enhanced performance, better product quality and enhanced employee flexibility. These factors lead to an improved competitive advantage held by an organization. Thereby it should be realized that a trained and productive employee can bring major changes in an organization and these employees should be on the priority list of these organizations if improvement in success levels is desired. Keeping a highly productive employee will mean that an organization has secured the level of commitment that can be reflected by a productive employee. In addition to this, activities that can promise an increase in employee commitment and an increased work performance include increased communication between employees and higher authorities, increased procedural justice in the workplace along with better participation with supportive managerial level management and rewards for harder work.

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