Employees who give feel more committed to their organization.
Researchers Adam M. Grant, Jane E. Dutton, and Brent Rosso investigated the link between employees who give money or time to employee support programs and their positive feelings (or affective commitment) towards their organization. The researchers found that employees who give feel more committed to their organization. Through helping coworkers, these employees saw themselves and their organization as more caring.
While today’s virtual business environment creates new opportunities, it means traditional relationships between employees and organizations are weakened. Arrangements like telework may have employees feeling less physically attached to their employer. This leaves some managers in search of new ways to grow commitment.
Formal employee support programs provide aid (e.g. counseling services or financial grants) to employees in need. Employees on the receiving end of such support can obviously benefit and have a more positive outlook of their employer. However, employees who help colleagues in need by giving time or money through this program may also experience increased commitment to their organization.
By allowing employees to help colleagues, support programs may improve the quality of experiences for the employees who give. This increases their positive feelings and commitment toward the organization.
Donating to the support program causes employees to think of themselves and the company as caring.
The program seems instrumental in facilitating employee giving behaviour and, in turn, positive feelings. Employees interviewed said that before the implementation of such a program they felt motivated to help coworkers and give their time, but lacked a reason-or means-for doing so.
Implications for Managers
Beyond first designing a program, a number of important steps help achieve these benefits:
Communicate to employees the ways they can give time and money to the program;
Demonstrate the credibility of the program; and
Highlight your organization’s contributions to the program.
Implications for Researchers
This research sheds light on the process through which employee commitment is cultivated, and visions of self and the organization are developed. Authors note that other causes may drive employee commitment; for instance, those employees who are committed initially may be more likely to give time and money, and be committed after support programs are in place.
The authors use survey and interview data from a Fortune 500 retail company to investigate the link between organizational commitment and employee giving via employee support programs.
Grant, Adam. M., Dutton, Jane. E., & Rosso, Brent. D. (2008). Giving commitment: Employee support programs and the prosocial sensemaking process. Academy of Management Journal, 51: 898-918.