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If Affective Commitment Increases Retention, What Increases Affective Commitment? Research Says it Could Be Psychological Empowerment

In a previous article, we talked about how increased affective commitment, or how emotionally invested an employee is in the organization, is related to reduced turnover. In general, you can increase an employee’s affective commitment through support and opportunities for learning and growth. But what does research say about what specifically leads to affective commitment? According to the article The Influence of Empowering Leadership, Empowerment and Engagement on Affective Commitment and Turnover Intentions in Community Health Service Workers by Albrecht and Andretta, the answer may be something called psychological empowerment.

According to research, psychological empowerment is a construct that consists of four dimensions: meaning, impact, autonomy, and competence. Employees who feel psychologically empowered in their organization believe that their work is meaningful outside of the organization; that their work effects significant change (impact); that they have autonomy and can make important decisions about their work; and that they do their work well (competent).

Albrecht and Andretta wanted to find out if high levels of the four dimensions of psychological empowerment would predict reduced levels of turnover intention, or whether an employee planned to leave the organization in the near future and/or was actively looking for a new job.

Interestingly, their research showed that only three dimensions of psychological empowerment, meaning, impact, and autonomy, significantly predicted turnover intention. In previous research, increased levels of autonomy have been shown to generally have the biggest impact on reducing turnover intentions.

So does study mean that feeling competent at one’s job is not important? Not necessarily. First of all, this is just one study – it would take many, many more studies of this kind to determine the true relationship between psychological empowerment and turnover intentions. Second, it could be that feeling competent at one’s job does not really have much to do with whether an employee feels committed to an organization. In fact, you could argue that if a person is too competent at their job, they may become bored and decide to leave.

So what’s the takeaway? It’s important to consider different dimensions of employee satisfaction in order to prevent moral injury (a.k.a. burnout) and turnover. It’s not enough to feel like you are doing meaningful work, you also must feel like you have decision-making power and be able to see the impact that your work is having, both in and outside of the organization.

Learn More

Contact Human Systems to learn more about how to determine and increase your employees’ level of psychological empowerment and affective commitment.

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