How to start building organizational commitment during the interview process?

Research suggests that if your employees are committed — if they see themselves belonging to your organization — they are much less likely to leave the company, but have higher productivity, and are all around happier. How can you make sure your applicants start off with the right foot at your company?

There are three ways your employees can be committed to you. It’s worth keeping these types of commitments in mind already during the interview process — this is when you will realize not only who is the best fit for the company, but also the ways in which you can make sure that the cooperation is long term.

  1. Affective commitment means that they identify with the work they do, and they feel integrated in the company. Affective commitment providesthe strongest incentive to stay with the company: it means not only that there is a belief in the goals of the company, but that the employees also want to keep associating themselves with these goals — so they feel a strong need to stay. During the interview process, if you want to gauge how much affective commitment you can count on from your applicants, it is worth asking about their values. What is important for them? What are the causes they care about?

Affective commitment is also positively associated with person-organizational fit. This is why it’s especially important that the interview process involves those people who will be the closest colleagues to your applicant. Is (s)he someone they could imagine welcoming to the company and fitting in?

This is kind of the way your applicant might look when he first hears your values align. It is possible — and they will be your most committed employees. Designed by Freepik

2. Normative commitment is feeling a moral obligation towards the company. This is something you might feel if your company hired you fresh out of school, with no experience to speak of. Normative commitment is also heightened by socially conscious workplace policies — for example, if a company is generous with its maternity leave policy, or if they are understanding about sick leaves, employees are much more likely to hold a sense of commitment to stand by the organization — even when they receive more lucrative offers. 

During the interview process, if you want to raise normative commitment, it is worth asking how the applicant imagines their “dream” workday.

Not ideal, but dream — what is it that they wish they could do while working, but feel impossible to happen. Is their dream to have free time to work on their project? To have the possibility of remote work? To learn new skills? If you have the answer, what is it that you can make happen from that dream?

Maybe have them work on a chosen project 20 percent of the time, have them work from home 2 days a week, or help them with their tuition fee, or ask a senior colleague to teach them something new? Any of these could raise your employees’ commitment — and make them a long term partner in your company.

3. Continuance commitment means that employees feel like there is a high barrier to cross to switch workplaces — even if they are not happy, they are not very likely to leave, simply because of the effort it would require. Needless to say, continuance commitment is the commitment most significantly associated with employee fluctuation — counting on the fact that your colleagues would leave, only if they weren’t so lazy, does not exactly enhance workplace morale.