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The Employee Commitment Cube

The Employee Commitment Cube

By Frank Sonnenberg

What’s the Temperature of Your Workforce?

The stages of employee satisfaction, ranging from commitment to apathy, are as follows:


Committed. Every organization wants to strive for committed
employees. These individuals have moved beyond loyalty. They are so deeply moved by the organization’s values and purpose that they continually look for creative and innovative new ways for the organization to grow and develop. Their excitement, with its passion and sense of ownership, spills over onto others.

Loyal. These are employees who enjoy coming to work, believe that they are making meaningful contributions, acknowledge that they are fairly recognized and rewarded, but most of all care deeply about the organization. Loyalty, however, does not always encourage creative and independent thinking, stimulate initiative, or instill a sense of ownership.

Motivated. Management is doing a good job of keeping these employees happy. They are content with their present situation, but that feeling may be temporary. The things that motivate them today may be taken for granted tomorrow. At this stage, an individual may also care more about personal than organizational success. The result is that a better offer may be tempting.

Obedient. These employees do enough to get by. Whether they are acting out of fear or trying to avoid personal conflict, they are unwilling to do anything that would set them apart. They are good soldiers who follow orders, but they have little interest in doing anything to make the organization more successful.

Disgruntled. These individuals’ hopes, desires, and expectations are not being met. However, they still care enough to try to change the situation by voicing their discontent. They demonstrate their displeasure by telling you that they’ll do something “as soon as they can get to it.” If you’re listening carefully, you will know something is bothering them. If you don’t catch the signals they’re sending, they will either reach their limit and leave the organization or become apathetic.

Apathetic. These employees are commonly known as deadwood. Their behavior can be characterized as having a lack of interest and/or caring. They sit at their desks shuffling papers and watching the clock; they take every sick and personal day allowed. They never make a suggestion or volunteer for anything. They accept assignments and deadlines with little visible reaction and respond with a shrug when asked if there is a problem. This general air of lassitude and disaffection is as contagious as enthusiasm in an organization.

The obvious question is, “How do you inspire commitment?”