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The relationship between nurses’ perceived pay equity and organisational commitment

Interaction of gender, mentoring, power distance on career attainment: A cross-cultural comparisonEgyptian research, June 2013

What drives organisational commitment? Is it what an employee thinks of their boss? And is it measured by the extent to which they are willing to go above and beyond for their organisation? And where does pay fit in? The answers matter as organisational commitment influences turnover, intent-to-leave, performance and absenteeism.

Before answering these questions, gaining clarity on the types of organisational commitment is a necessary precursor. Organisational commitment can be categorised in three ways:

  1. Affective commitment: An employee’s emotional attachment to the organisation and their willingness to exert effort for the organisation’s benefit 
  2. Normative commitment: An employee’s sense of obligation to the organisation, performing their required role because they feel they ought to do so
  3. Continuance commitment: An employee’s awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organisation, which can be economic or social.

So which factors have the greatest impact on organisational commitment per se, and do they impact all aspects of commitment equally? The answers are particularly critical in the Healthcare industry where qualified health professionals are in short supply, creating a distinct challenge in meeting the rising demands of health systems globally. Recent research by Dr Yaldez K. Zein ElDin and Dr Reem Mabrouk Abd El Rahman from Damanhour University in Egypt sought to explore perceptions of pay equity amongst nurses to better understand how it impacted, and could also improve, organisational commitment.

Aim

The aim of this research was to understand how perceptions of pay equity were related to organisational commitment.

Method

Nurses from the Damanhour National Medical Institute (n=151) completed a questionnaire designed to measure their perception of pay equity, their level of affective, normative and continuance commitment, as well as capture key demographics such as years of experience.

Findings

Overall, the study found evidence of a positive relationship between perceived pay equity and organisational commitment. In particular, findings demonstrated:

  1. Significant positive correlation between perceived pay equity and normative commitment, as well as total commitment across the three commitment dimensions 
  2. More experienced nurses perceived their pay as more favourable 
  3. More experienced nurses showed greater organisational commitment.

The authors acknowledge the correlation between pay equity and normative commitment could reflect the nature of employment in Egyptian Government organisations, where employees cannot leave their job at any time. This means there may be a perceived obligation to work for an employer, increasing as their pay equity becomes more favourable. Higher levels of overall commitment linked to higher perceived pay equity shows, as might be expected, that nurses who believe they have more favourable pay are more committed to the organisation.

However the link between pay and commitment is not as simple as it first appears. The authors suggest that an increase in favourable perceptions about pay amongst more experienced nurses is likely due to salary increases with years of service. Additionally the authors suggest that the increase in organisational commitment found in more experienced nurses could be due to social factors such as relationships forged with colleagues, as well as work-related factors such as job autonomy or holding positions of seniority. This could also mean more experienced nurses consider it difficult to leave for another job as they may lose such benefits, increasing their levels of commitment to their current organisation. Indeed this is consistent with other research in this field that shows increased organisational commitment associated with longer tenure, favourable work characteristics and well-developed group leader relationships.

Implications

The relationship between perceived pay equity and organisational commitment suggests the obvious answer of ensuring pay equity, and appropriate levels of pay, to increase employee commitment. Certainly this is a challenge in Egypt where salaries are low compared to other countries, and indeed increasing pay levels is not always an option for an organisation in any country. However, the study does suggest that perceptions of pay equity have the ability to impact an employee’s commitment to the organisation, and therefore could impact retention and turnover of key talent.

Looking at the factors that influence organisational commitment in more experienced employees, a key implication of this research could be for organisations to look at the non-pay related conditions that might increase commitment levels. This could involve more senior talent creating an improved social environment for junior employees and offering guidance and support. In addition, development opportunities could be offered through formal education programmes, with monetary incentives offered upon completion and allowing for wider career benefits such as promotions and improved pay, thereby increasing organisational commitment.

To read the full article go to Yaldez K. Zien ElDin, and Reem Mabrouk Abd El Rahman (2013) “The relationship between nurses’ perceived pay equity and organisational commitment” Life Sciences Journal, Volume 10, No. 2, pp.889-896 http://www.lifesciencesite.com/lsj/life1002/125_18157life1002_889_896.pdf

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