While keeping your employees happy at work is important for morale, it isstaff commitment, and not staff satisfaction, that will help to maximise thebottom line performance of your organisationOnce again, the effects of an economic downturn are loomingover many organisations. For HR, this means a productive workforce is more crucial than ever, and, atthe same time, dealing with employees who can only look to the future with somenervousness. So what can employers do to get the balance right? To start with, theyshould forget about keeping employees ‘satisfied’. Employee satisfaction is, of course, a ‘good thing’, but does it haveanything to do with performance? There is now clear evidence that ‘satisfied’ employees are not necessarilyemployees who perform to the best of their abilities. Satisfaction can be perceived as rather passive – an internal, personalemotion that does not relate in any clear way to an organisational outcome. Sowhere is the benefit to organisations in employee satisfaction surveys? Organisations have to start thinking much more clearly about what kinds ofstaff attitudes actually make a difference, because ‘satisfaction’ is a redherring. Pioneering employers are coming to understand the need to rethink what theymeasure; a requirement for an organisational dimension to attitude surveys inaddition to the usual employee-centred measures. As a result, commitment, whichis sometimes translated as engagement, is increasingly becoming the focus of HRattention. At the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), we embarked on research witha major retailer to try to measure the difference between the two concepts ofsatisfaction and commitment. Using data from 65,000 employees and 25,000 customers, we found thatemployee commitment had a higher correlation to customer satisfaction thanemployee satisfaction. Importantly, commitment has double the impact of employee satisfaction oncustomers’ future spending intentions. A one-point increase in employeecommitment led to a monthly increase of £200,000 in sales per store and reducedabsenteeism. What exactly is commitment? It is evidently something wider than jobsatisfaction, although this forms an element of it. Commitment has several components: compatibility of values, pride in theorganisation, loyalty, job satisfaction and feeling fairly rewarded. Commitment must also be understood as a two-way street, involvingresponsibilities on the employer to develop and value employees. Admittedly, it may well be difficult for employers to promote employeecommitment at a time when business prospects are uncertain. However, taking noaction at all compounds the problem. Current research at IES, based on an overview of 14 recent datasets, showsthat employees with high levels of commitment express greater satisfaction withperformance management, the culture of the organisation, promotionopportunities and communication. With such a multi-dimensional concept, it is a profound mistake to thinkcommitment can be pinpointed by ‘the killer question’ approach, the way thatsatisfaction has often been. The traditional technique of judging employee satisfaction by asking ‘Pleaseindicate how satisfied you feel about working here on a scale of one to 10’needs to be rejected in favour of more subtle questions that provide a paththrough the different components of commitment. You may ask for ratings against statements like: ‘I find my values and theorganisation’s are very similar’; ‘I speak highly of this organisation to myfriends’; ‘I feel loyal to this organisation’; ‘My organisation inspires thebest performance from me’; ‘I get full credit for my work’; ‘The pay herecompares favourably with other organisations’ and ‘I do not often think aboutleaving’. The point of regular surveys (which should be conducted about once a year)is to provide the basis of targeted HR strategies in particular areas. Theseshould relate commitment to business outcomes, such as employee turnover,absenteeism and financial performance, for example. Commitment is the result of sustained good people management. This meanscommunicating organisational values clearly; ensuring support staff for linemanagers; training appropriately; managing fairly; paying equitably and so on.Use statistical techniques to highlight the importance of each of thesefactors. Then work out where HR action would have the most impact on businessperformance and outcomes. Satisfaction was a worker-centric measure. What is more important today isthe employment relationship, the basis of trust between employer and employee.Understanding and improving commitment is the key to maximising bottom lineperformance. By Sue Hayday, Research fellow, Institute for EmploymentStudies Staff commitment is the key to an improved performanceOn 10 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.