Factors affecting employee commitment

Over the last ten years, the study of commitment has advanced in many different directions. A variety of disciplines have adopted the topic as a theme in their research and these have offered fresh and significant insights. These recent advances include new approaches to both the conceptualization of employee commitment and the particular human resource practices intended to increase it.

Current research concerning employee commitment highlights the pitfalls of viewing commitment as a one-dimensional construct that can be enhanced by a particular human resource policy. This assumes that a particular practice, for example offering flexible working arrangements or more training, will have a significant and beneficial effect on employee commitment. Unfortunately, in practice it is not that simple because there is no single solution. All employees’ wants and needs cannot be addressed by a single policy.

The effective functioning of an organization highly depends on the commitment of its

employees. In fact, the commitment of employees may be a key factor that

determines the success of a company in the modern world since, in the situation of the growing competition and the constant implementation of new technologies a company needs to have well-qualified and reliable personnel to maintain its position in the market. At the same time, the effectiveness and productivity of work of employees still remain the major factors that can contribute to the progress of the company. On the other hand, nowadays it is obvious that financial stimuli solely can hardly motivate employees to work more effectively and productively. In such a situation, employees commitment turns to be of a paramount importance since it is due to the high commitment of employees they can perform positive results of their work, increase its effectiveness and productivity, while low commitment leads, as a rule, to poor results of the functioning of the entire organization.



Meyer & Allen 2001 define commitment as is a stabilizing force that acts to maintain behavioural direction when expectancy/equity conditions are not met and do not function.

An obliging force which requires that the person honor the commitment even in the

face of fluctuating attitudes and whims. (Brown 1996)

The relative strength of an individual’s identification with and involvement in a

particular organization (Mowday et al 1979)

According to Salancik (1977) commitment is a state of being in which an individual becomes bound by his action to beliefs that sustain his activities and his own involvement

Allen & meyer,1990, commitment is a psychological state that binds the individual to

the organization.


It is the psychological bond of an employee to an organization, the strength of which depends on the degree of employee involvement, employee loyalty and belief in the values of the organization.

As defined by Poter (1974) Employee commitment is the relative strength of the

individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organization. It consists

of three factors:A strong desire to remain a member of the organization;

A strong belief in, and acceptance of, the values and goals of the organization

A readiness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization



This model of organizational commitment model was developed by Meyer and Allen. According to the model, organizational commitment reflects at least three general themes.

1.Affective commitment to the organization

2.Continuance Commitment – The perceived cost associated with leaving it

3.Normative Commitment- The obligation to remain with it.

Affective Commitment

It’s the employees emotional attachment to, identification with and involvement in the


Employees with a strong affective commitment continue employment with the

organization because they want to.

Continuance Commitment

The individual commits to the organization because he/she perceives high costs of

losing organizational membership including economic costs (such as pension

accruals) and social costs (friendship ties with co-workers) that could be incurred.

The employee remains with the organization because he/she “has to”.

I t refers to an awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organization. The potential cost of leaving an organization include the threat of wasting the time and effort spent acquiring non transferable skills, losing attractive benefits, giving up seniority – based privileges or having to uproot family and disrupt personal relationships.

It also develops as a result of lack of alternative employment opportunities.

Employees in this category remain because they need to.


Refers to a feeling of obligation to continue employment . Employees in this category

remain in the organization because they feel they ought to.

Organization can develop normative commitment by providing reward in advance e.g. paying college tuition. Normative pressures may also make an individual feel that they ought to remain within the organization.

Acknowledging these investments makes employees feel a sense of obligation to reciprocate by committing themselves to the organization until the debt has been paid .

One important point is that not all forms of employee commitment are positively associated with superior performance (Meyer & Allen, 1997). For example, an employee who has low affective and normative commitment, but who has high continuance commitment is unlikely to yield performance benefits. The main reason such an employee remains with an organisation is for the negative reason that the costs associated with leaving are too great.


This model embraces workforce commitment and identification with the organizations

values and goals. The main features of high commitment model are

1. Development of career ladders and emphasis on trainability and commitment as

highly characteristic of employees at all levels in the organization.

2. A high level of functional flexibility with the abandonment of potentially rigid job


3. The reduction of hierarchies and the ending of status differentials.

4. Heavy reliance on the team structure for dissemination of information (team

building) structure work and problem solving.


Job design as something management consciously does in order to provide

jobs which have a considerable level of intrinsic motivation.


A policy of no compulsory layoff or redundancies and use of permanent employee with possible use of temporary workers to cushion fluctuation in the demand for labour.

7. New forms of assessment and pay system and more specifically merit pay profit


8. A high involvement of employees in the management of quality.



O’Reilly and Chatman(1986) developed their multidimensional framework on the

basis of the assumption that commitment represents an attitude towards the

organization. For them, commitment takes on three distinct forms, which they labeled

1. Compliance

2. Identification

3. Internalization

Compliance occurs when attitudes and corresponding behaviors are adopted in

order to gain specific rewards. E.g being very considerate towards people so that

you get that promotion

Identification occurs when an individual accepts influence to establish or maintain a

satisfying relationship

Relationship / Internalization occurs when influence is accepted because the

attitudes and behaviors’ one is being encouraged to adopt are congruent with existing values. Employees thus become committed to organizations which they share value e.g. an organization that encourages integrity is likely to win the commitment of an individual who believes in integrity.


O’Malley (2000) contends that a review of the commitment literature produces five

general factors which relate to the development of employee commitment:

Affiliative Commitment:

An organization’s interests and values are compatible with those of the employee,

and the employee feels accepted by the social environment of the organization.

Associative Commitment:

Organizational membership increases employees’ self-esteem and status. The

employee feels privileged to be associated with the organisation.

Moral Commitment:

Employees perceive the organization to be on their side and the organization evokes a sense of mutual obligation in which both the organization and the employee feel a sense of responsibility to each other. This type of commitment is also frequently referred to in the literature as Normative Commitment.

Affective commitment:

Employees derive satisfaction from their work and their colleagues, and their work environment is supportive of that satisfaction. Some researchers (eg Allen & Meyer, 1991) suggest that this is the most important form of commitment as it has the most potential benefits for organizations. Employees who have high affective commitment are those who will go beyond the call of duty for the good of the organization. In recent literature this form of commitment has also been referred to as ‘engagement’ and is the form of commitment that is most usually measured by organizations.

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Structural commitment:

Employees believe they are involved in a fair economic exchange in which they benefit from the relationship in material ways. There are enticements to enter and remain in the organization and there are barriers to leaving. This type of commitment is also frequently referred to in the literature as Continuance Commitment.


The workplace is a dynamic field and to remain competitive, employee commitment

is important..The following factors affect employee comittemnt:

Workplace values.

If employees believe that their organization values quality products they will engage in behaviors’ that will contribute to high quality. If employees are convinced that their organization values participation they will be more likely to feel as though their participation will make a difference.

They will thus be motivated and be more willing to seek solutions and make

suggestions to contribute to the organization success.

Subordinate – supervisor interpersonal relationship.

Supervisors behavior include sharing appropriate information, allowing mutuality of influence, recognizing and rewarding good performance and not abusing the vulnerability of others . The extent to which the supervisor displays these behaviors will thus largely determine subordinate commitment level

Job characteristics.

The extent that a job is structured to provide regular feedback and autonomy as well

as a sense of task completion

An increase in perceived control strengthens emotional bonds with an organization. A heightened sense of personal control has a positive consequence for employee’s attitudes and behaviors’ at work.

When tasks are Intrinsically satisfying, employees tend to be more committed.

Commitment is low when employees are given repetitive routine tasks to complete.

A job that allows a high degree of autonomy and the absence of close supervision

increases commitment.



A range of demographic variables have been found to be related to employee commitment (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). For a variety of reasons, age has been found to be a positive predictor of employee commitment. As Mathieu & Zajac (1990) suggest, the older employees become, the less alternative employment options are available. As a result, older employees may view their current employment more favourably. Dunham et al. (1994) suggest older employees may be more committed because they have a stronger investment and greater history with their organization.


With regard to gender, a number of studies (eg Mathieu & Zajac, 1990) have reported women as being more committed than men. This is typically explained by women having to overcome more barriers than men to get to their position in the organization.


Marital status has also been shown to relate to commitment, with married employees usually showing more commitment (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990). However, it is suggested that the reason for this is because married employees will typically have greater financial and family responsibilities, which increases their need to remain with the

organization. Note, however, that this refers to structural commitment (or continuance commitment) in that the cost associated with leaving the organization increases commitment to the organization. As mentioned previously, structural commitment does not necessarily relate to increased performance.

Recruitment Procedures

O’Malley (2000) suggests that organizations need to pay more attention to addressing employees’ social need to affiliate and belong, in order to create commitment, the organization must have the right sort of employees in the first instance.

Employees’ feelings of belonging start to develop long before employees join the organization. The following information should be shared with employee to enhance commitment


share details about the organization


provide employees with help and support throughout the recruitment and

selection process


convey the interests and values that the organization shares with employees.

Organizations need to be attractive to the right sort of people; thus the initial contact

between the organization and the prospective candidate is very important.


As Troy (1998) points out, increasingly organizations are attempting to communicate

with prospective employees in a coherent manner by developing an employer brand

The brand should condense the basic nature of the organization, what its values are and what it would be like to work there. The principal purpose of the brand is to efficiently bring employers and employees together in order to establish a relationship. Thus, a good brand should convey both the unique benefits of the organizational environment and the type of person who is likely to do well in that setting. The organization must then ensure that it delivers these promises to its employees, or its efforts will have been wasted.

Employers should, therefore, devote a portion of the selection process to assessing

cultural fit.

Met Expectations

Employees will be more committed if there is a good match between what the person is looking for in a job, and what the job provides . Commitment will be greater when employees’ experiences on the job match their expectations. Unmet expectations are a source of low morale and dissatisfaction. Such expectations usually relate to the type of work employees are given to do and the opportunities they receive for training and development.

Factors affecting commitment. By Kochan and dyan as cited by Armstrong



Strategic level

-supportive business strategies

-Top management value of commitment

-Effective voice of HR in strategy making

Supportive business strategies may include activities that increase employee involvement thus reinforcing commitment. When top management is commited to its employees the employees too become commited. Fair human resource policies e.g a policy of promotion based on merit will also increase commitment


Hr policy level

-staffing based on employment stabilization

– investing on training and development

-continent compensation that reinforces cooperation

Training increases employees efficiency making them more commited because they

enjoy what they do.(Affective commitment)


Workplace level

– Selection based on high standards

-Job design and team work

-employee involvement in problem solving

-climate of cooperation and trust.

Selecting people with the right skills for a job will ensure that the employee remains commited as they will be efficient in their duties. Efficiency increases commitment. Designinh jobs e.g allowing flexi time,job enlargement,job enrichment and job rotation ensures that monotony is kept at bay and commitment is enhanced

Other factors that affect employee commitment by Purcell et al

(2003 in Armstrong ,2005) include


Received training last year


Are satisfied with career opportunities


Are satisfied with performance appraisal system

Think managers are good in people management (Leadership)


Find work challenging


Think their form helps them achieve a work-life balance


Are satisfied with communication or company performance

Benefits of employee commitment

High level of employee commitments means that employees are really enthusiastic about their job and, their performance will be better as well as the effectiveness and productivity of their work higher.

Employee commitment also evokes a profound interest of an employee to his/her work. This means that he/she enjoys the job he/she does. Consequently, the level of employees’ satisfaction will be high if they are really committed to their work. Employee commitment may be also cost saving since committed employees are highly motivated that means that they do not need increasing financial rewards for their work, though it does not necessarily mean that employees should not receive financial rewards at all, but the expenses of the organization at this point may decrease.

The performance benefits accrued from increased employee commitment have been

widely demonstrated in the literature. To list but a few, these include:


increased job satisfaction (Armstrong 2005)


increased job performance (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990)


increased total return to shareholders .


increased sales (Barber et al., 1999)


decreased employee turnover (Cohen, 1991) decreased intention to leave

decreased intention to search for alternative employers (Cohen, 1993)


decreased absenteeism (Cohen, 1993, Barber et al. 1999)

Employee commitment should be viewed as a business necessity. Organizations who have difficulty in retaining and replacing competent employees will find it hard to optimize performance. There are not only the immediate expenses of the recruitment process, but other hidden costs such as management time and lost productivity as new employees take time to become effective in their roles.

Commitment also has the following effects:

1. I t results in self directed( self initiave) application to do the job

2. regular attendance,

3. nominal supervision

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4. a high level of effort

5. it increases the intention to stay- loyalty


Low commitment of employees may lead to negative results and undermine the normal functioning of an organization or, at any rate, decrease the effectiveness of work of employees considerably. The low employee commitment has a number of disadvantages which deteriorate the work of each employee and the entire organization (O’Malley 2000).

Low commitment leads to the low level of interest of employees in their work. Consequently, if employees are not sufficiently interested in their work they will naturally work worse than they can. In other words, the low commitment decreases the effectiveness and productivity of work for employees are not really interested in

their work and its outcomes. Naturally, in such a situation, they can hardly be

interested in a positive performance of the organization they work for.


This can be done through an attitude survey, employee satisfaction survey, employee commitment survey and performance appraisals. Questioners are usually administered to collect relevant data that management later uses when deciding ways of increasing employee commitment.

Sample of a questioner attached(Annex 1)


Organizations can use various strategies to increase employee commitment. This

strategies include:

Induction and Training

The induction programme should be the final step of the recruitment and selection process. A good induction programme will make new employees more familiar with and more at ease within the organization. Employees enter the organization with an assumption of compatibility and should be welcomed.

Relationships with Managers

This refers to how the quality of the relationship between managers and their

employees relates to the development of commitment.

Employees’ commitment reflects their day to day contacts with their line managers

about their job, and the way in which objective targets are set. Effective

communication on job-related issues is a key ingredient in securing individual performance. To a great extent, individual line managers are responsible for ensuring that these maintenance behaviours occur.

With poor management, the most well developed organizational programme can

break down at the point of transmission.

Relationships with Colleagues

Emotional attachment to colleagues in the workplace is an important element of commitment, though It is not enough on its own. Unless there is occasion for frequent and rewarding interaction, stronger feelings of belonging that can bind employees to the organization are unlikely to emerge. Organizations that want to build high levels of commitment should look for ways to build this through group activities both in and out of work

Group Membership

To build commitment, being a member of a particular organization must not only satisfy employees’ social need to affiliate and belong, but must also create a sense of collective identity that differentiates the group from other organizations.

There are many situational features that contribute to a sense of group membership. The more exposure that employees have to these features, the more likely they will be to feel like a part of the group and to incorporate that membership into their concept of who they are.

Organizational Justice and Trust

It is also argued that employees evaluate their experiences at work in terms of whether they are fair and reflect a concern on the part of the organization for the well- being of the employees (Meyer, 1997). Treating employees fairly, communicates the message that management is commitment to the employees. This suggests that organizations wanting to foster greater commitment from their employees must first provide evidence of their commitment to their employees.

When there is trust, employees are willing to suspend judgement and defer to the authority of others. In addition, trust permits organizational flexibility because a payback need be neither immediate nor of equivalent value. O’Malley (2000) identifies four areas in which employees’ sense of trust in the employer can be increased:


Growth: As most employees want to be more proficient in their job, a good

way to instil trust is to attend to employees’ development needs.


Work-Life balance: Most employees would like organizations to allow greater

personal time when needed.


Individual accommodation: Acts of organizational flexibility or benevolence

toward employees.


Health and Safety: Organizations that are committed to protecting employees’

health and safety are more likely to be trusted


Policies and practices concerning promotion can also affect commitment. . Among those who are considered for promotion, the outcome of the decision is likely to have an effect on commitment.

But, for some, the perception of fairness in the decision-making process might be even more important. This suggests that organizations should communicate clearly how their decisions were made and why those who did not succeed were not suitable.

Work-Life Balance

A key issue emphasized by research, especially in recent years, is the extent to which employees perceive they are able to achieve the right balance between home and work. Organizations are beginning to recognize this, and are making more concerted efforts to introduce a host of programmes intended to ease employees’ burdens. These include initiative such as: flexible work arrangements; child care; time off policies; elderly care; healthcare; information and counseling; and convenience services to name but a few.

Job Satisfaction

How happy an employee is in a job has profound effects on behaviour and commitment. In relation to commitment, job satisfaction and work-life satisfaction are very important. Job satisfaction is an enormous area; however, to be concise a satisfying job typically has three properties:


It has intrinsically enjoyable features: Mathieu & Zajac (1990) found that the strongest correlation with commitment were obtained for job characteristics, particularly job scope (enrichment).


It provides an opportunity for growth and development.


It makes employees feel effective in their roles (that they can positively

influence organizational outcomes).

Pay and Reward

As mentioned previously, employees may remain with an organization because there are constraints against leaving and incentives for staying. It is important for organizations to structure the economics of the relationship in a way that will not obstruct commitment. One of the reasons to stay in a relationship is because it makes sense economically. Pay makes continuation of the employment relationship worthwhile because there is mutual dependence.


Schein cited by (Armstrong 2005) defines commitment as attachment and loyalty

Psychological contract is the degree people are committed to the organization

(Schein 1965). It depends on


The degree to which their own expectations of what the organization will

provide to

them and what they owe the organization in return matches what the

organization expectations are of what it will give and get in return

The nature of what is actually to be exchanged e.g. money in exchange for time at work , social need satisfaction and security in exchange for hard work and loyalty

Armstrong (2004) defines psychological contract as a system of beliefs which encompasses on one hand the actions employees belief are expected of them and what response they expect in return from their employer and on the other hand the behavior employers expect from their employees. It is implicit and dynamic




During recruitment interviews present the unfavorable as well as the favorable aspects of a job in a realistic job preview.- This will enable the candidate have a clear and achievable expectation of the organization and thus avoid setting very high expectations that the organization is unable to meet,leading to low / decreased commitment


In induction programmes communicate to new starters the organizations personnel policies and procedures and its core values indicating to them the standards of performance expected – this enables them to remain committed in achieving the expected performance


Issue and update employee hand books and intranet entries which

reinforce the message delivered in induction programmes.


Develop performance management process plans which spell out how continued improvement of performance can be achieved mainly by self managed learning


Use training and management development programmes to underpin

values that define performance expectations.


Ensure thorough manager and team leader training that managers and team leaders understand their role in managing the employment relationship through such processes as performance management and team leadership – managers should be very committed so as to pass the same message of commitment to employees.

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Encourage a maximum amount of contact between managers and team

leaders and their team members to achieve mutual understanding.


Adopt a general policy of transparency ensuring that on all matters which affect them employees know what is happening and the impact it will make on their employment


Develop personal procedures covering grievance handling, discipline , promotion and redundancy. Ensure they are implemented fairly and consistently.


Develop and communicate personnel policies covering the major areas

of employment, development, reward and employee relations


According to Armstrong 2005 the following ten (10) practice contribute to increase of

employee commitment.

1.Advise in methods of communicating the values and aims of management and

achievements of the organization, so that employees are more likely to identify

with it as one they are proud to work for.

2.Emphasize to management that commitment is a two way process employees

cannot be expected to be committed to the organization unless management

demonstrates that it is committed to them.

3.Impress on the management the need to develop a climate of trust by being

honest with people, treating them fairly justly and consistently, keeping its word and showing willingness to listen to the comments and suggestions made by employees

4.Develop a positive psychological contract by treating people as stakeholders

rely on consensus and cooperation rather than control and coercion and

provision of opportunities for learning and career progression.

5.Advise on and assist in the establishment of partnership agreements with

trade unions which emphasize unity of purpose, common approaches to

working together and the importance of giving employees a voice.

Recommend and take part in the achievement of single status for all

employees so that there is no an “us and them “culture.

7.Encourage management to develop a policy of employment security and

ensure steps are taken to avoid involuntary redundancies

8.Develop performance management process that provide for the alignment of

organizational and individual objectives.

9.Advise on means of increasing employee identification with the company

through rewards related to organizational performance (profit sharing or gain


10.Develop job engagement: identification of employees with the job they are

doing through job design process that aim to create higher levels of job



A commitment strategy is based on the high commitment model described in

chapter………….. It aims to develop commitment using the following approaches.

1. Developing ownership.

I t involves involving employees in those decisions that affect them so that they feel they own, i.e. Create a feeling of ownership among employees, listening to their ideas. Employees should feel they are genuinely accepted by the management.

2. Communication programmes

Commitment can only be gained if people understand what they are expected to

commit to. Thus in sufficient attention should be paid when delivering messages so

that right information is passed. Proper use of newsletters, briefing groups videos

and notice boards should be emphasized.

3. Leadership development.

Commitment is enhanced if managers can gain the confidence and respect of their teams. Management training should therefore be used to increase the competence of managers thus making them efficient enough to cultivate a sense of commitment in their teams.


Developing a sense of excitement.

Concentrating on the intrinsic motivating factors e.g. achievement, responsibility and recognition creates job excitement, which leads to commitment. Management should thus give their staff the scope to use their skills and abilities and design jobs which encourage creativity and innovativeness, avoid monotony

5. Use of career development program

They help employee develop caters related skills and recognize the developmental need they posses. If used effectively if creates commitments it send the signal that the employer cares about the employee career success and thus deserves employee commitment.


Having examined the concept of employee commitment our group gave the following recommendations that would enhance the commitment of employee in the workplace.

Fair profit shairing based on an established policy that seeks to make employees feel that the management is commited to them, regular team building activities and designing jobs so that there is flexi time for those employees who may not be in a position to work between 8am – 5pm.

Providing such incentives e.g. Medical scheme, housing scheme, car loans, furniture loans, pension scheme and increasing the number of year’s employees can work in an organization even after reaching the retirement age sends the message that the organization is committed to its employees and so the employees in turn will seek to be committed to the organization.

Another way of enhancing employee commitment is by conducting exit interviews, since the interviewee will be leaving the organization it is believed that they will reveal loopholes in the management or job design that contribute to low morale among employees. The management can then use the information to put necessary measures in place to enable employees develop commitment in their work.

Management should also ensure that confidentially is practiced especially where there is sensitive information concerning employees. Such information may include health status, marital issues,financial position of employees among many others.

The following values should also be practiced.



It implies the elimination of one’s feelings , prejudices and desires to achieve a

proper balance between conflicting interest



To nurture commitment employers must create an environment of trust. If employers wish to develop and maintain trust they should do what they say will do, be consistent ,maintain confidence ,be a role model of

behaviour,encourage employee involvement, allow people to make we decisions that affect their work, allow people to make mistakes without fear or ridicule, learn from mistakes.

3. Concern for employees.

Employees should be regarded as people not factors of production. Employers should provide job security train and develop employees, be flexible to accommodate employee issues , be open and honest and allow employees to have a life outside work.

Today’s employees have a strong sense of self worth- they recognize their

value and want their employers to as well

8.0 Summary

This paper has presented a review of the current thinking about defining and creating employee commitment, which is an evolving topic currently receiving considerable attention. It has been identified as a multi-dimensional concept which has important

impacts on an organization through its effects on employee performance, turnover

and absence, and via its influence on customer attitudes to the bottom line.

Commitment can be divided into five components, each of which are created by

different factors. These are defined as follows:

Affiliative: The compatibility of the employee’s and the organization’s interests and


Associative: The employee’s perception of belonging to the organization.

Moral: The sense of mutual obligation between the employee and the organization.

Affective: The feeling of job satisfaction experienced by the


Structural: The belief that the employee is engaged in a fair economic exchange.

Job satisfaction is an important component of commitment, but should not be perceived as equivalent to it. Commitment has more positive outcomes for the organization in terms of employee performance. Job satisfaction can be promoted by making work as enjoyable as possible, providing growth and development opportunities and making provisions for staff to assist them in balancing their work and personal lives.

Once established, commitment has to be maintained by ensuring staff have clear roles and responsibilities, and an understanding of what is required of them in their jobs. Good communication and openness throughout the organization is vital, especially in times of change. The role of line managers should be recognized and positively supported, as it is a vital component in the creation and maintenance of employee commitment.

9.0 Conclusion

It is possible to conclude that employee commitment is a very significant factor contributing to the positive organizational outcomes. It may increase productivity, effectiveness of work and motivation of employees, while low commitment leads to the opposite outcomes. At the same time it is necessary to maintain high level of employee commitment through leadership, development, empowerment, and supervision.

.Radical organizational changes often lead to reduced commitment caused by

increased job insecurity, increased stress, decreased trust and job redesign. Since organizational commitment has strong correlation with job performances it is very important to reinforce it by applying the right human resources polices

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