Employee Support Programs Can Improve Organizational Commitment

woman working on computer
Topic(s): job attitudes, organizational commitment
Publication: Academy of Management Journal
Article: Giving commitment: Employee support programs and the pro-social sense-making process.

Authors: A.M. Grant, J.E. Dutton, B.D. Rosso

Reviewed by: Benjamin Granger

Due to the changing nature of work and employer-employee relationships (e.g., work from home programs, more autonomy), it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to foster “affective organizational commitment.” This term refers to a psychological or emotional attachment that helps bind employees to their organizations, and allows them to feel like part of an extended family. 


Employees who are affectively committed to their organizations perform better at work, show decreased absenteeism, and are less likely to turnover. Basically, affectively committed employees are great for organizations.

Recognizing the value of fostering affective commitment in the workplace, many organizations have begun implementing employee support programs such as various employee aid programs, or work-family programs that may include childcare or elder care.

Interestingly, researchers (Grant, Dutton, & Rosso, 2008) found that these support programs can also foster affective commitment by giving employees the opportunity to help others. In two studies of employees from a Fortune 500 retail company, the researchers found that giving can lead to increased affective commitment on the part of the employee.


These findings imply that employee assistance programs increase employee commitment, partly due to the opportunities they give employees to help fellow employees in need. In many such programs, fellow organizational members are given the opportunity to help others and give to others within the organization (e.g., financial donations under hard times). Thus, the act of giving leads to affective organizational commitment!

The researchers also found that when employees give to others within the organization (through a support program), they are likely to feel that both they and the organization are caring. This fosters the organizational commitment that management desires.

Grant, A.M., Dutton, J.E., & Rosso, B.D. (2008). Giving commitment: Employee support  programs and the prosocial sensemaking process. Academy of Management Journal, 51(5), 898 – 918.