In your day-to-day work life, have you ever stopped to wonder why you continue to come in to work every day? Why the PSAP life? More specifically, why you are an emergency services telecommunicator?
Bills, boredom, family to support, or just getting out of the house? Could it also be service to others, comradery, working as a team or family, benefits, or the love of what you do? One of the primary reasons may be due to the commitment you have to your PSAP. Your PSAP is more than just the job: it is the people surrounding you, the policies that you adhere to, and hopefully the difference you make on a daily basis. Bass and Riggio (2006) wrote:
There is a commitment to the broader organization, to the workgroup or team, and the leader. There is a commitment to the task and one’s career. There is also a moral commitment to one’s own beliefs and values, to the values of others in the organization, and the values of the organization as a whole.1
An organization should be committed to its employees, and employees should be committed to the organization. Organizational commitment can be defined as a subordinate’s identification with the mission, goals, and vision of the organization. Another aspect is the degree of employee involvement in the job. This includes the employee’s faithfulness to and loyalty toward the success of the organization. A committed workforce has a lower rate of absenteeism, higher retention rate, and exerts a higher energy level in jobs.
Mowday, Steers, and Porter (1979), stated organizational commitment has three components: (a) a strong belief in and acceptance of the organization’s goals and values; (b) a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization; and (c) a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization.2
Research suggests public sector employees have higher levels of commitment to their jobs and their organizations due to intrinsic values and role functions. Keeping organizational commitment levels in emergency services telecommunicators high is an essential aspect of organizational success. Organizational commitment is a critical factor in the possible prediction of organizational outcomes like improved organizational performance, increased knowledge sharing, decreased turnover, higher levels of organizational effectiveness, increased organizational citizenship behaviors, and lower absenteeism.
Business Insider (2013) surveyed almost 750 different professions and created the 2013 jobs-rated report, which lists the most stressful jobs, and emergency services telecommunicators are listed in the top 14.3 The report pointed out that emergency services telecommunicators often work irregular hours due to mandatory overtime and manage life-and-death calls as well as experience typical office conflicts.
The PSAP is more than just a job. You are part of an organization that works as a team. When one portion of that team is not committed, then all parts suffer. The PSAP community must understand that organizational commitment is a two-way street between the telecommunicators and the leadership. If either street is blocked, the negative effects of the stressors build. When this happens, the cost to the PSAP will be hard to recover from.
Let’s find ways in our PSAPs to reduce the stressors, burnout, turnover, and low job satisfaction. Working toward higher levels of organizational commitment will increase efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. Be committed, get involved, and let’s make your PSAP the best it can be.
Now that we have looked at leadership styles and what organizational commitment is, my next article is going to focus on the relationship between leadership and organizational commitment. This information is based upon a recently completed study using PSAPs in northern Florida. Stay tuned.
1. Bass B, Riggio R. Transformational leadership. Second Edition. Psychology Press; New York, NY. 2006.
2. Mowday R, Steers R, Porter L. “The measurement of organizational commitment.” Journal of Vocational Behavior. 1979; 14 (2): 224-247.
3. Giang V. “The 14 Most Stressful Jobs in America.” Business Insider. 2013; Nov. 12. businessinsider.com/ most-stressful-jobs-in-america-2013-11 (accessed Jan. 8, 2021).