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The One Thing That Happens To Employees Before They Quit.

Regardless if someone gives notice or quits on the spot, one thing universally happens to employees before they quit.

They lose emotional commitment.

In this article, I'll break down:

  • What is emotional commitment (EC)?

  • How your company retention, turnover, and success of your culture company depends on its emotional commitment.

  • How to ensure you are doing what you can to honor the emotional commitment of your employees.

Emotional Commitment Overview:

Note that this is a linear example.

Emotional commitment ebbs and flows. The contributing factor to an employee deciding to quit comes down to:

  • How many low points of emotional commitment vs. high points.

  • Timing of opportunities presented, for example, does an opportunity present itself during a low point or high point of emotional commitment?

  • What is the contributing factor to each point of emotional commitment, regardless of its high or low? For example, did their closest colleague leave, did a manager speak harshly to them, or did they feel appreciated after a project?

  • Did the company do something ethical or unethical?

There are micro factors that lead up to the macro experience.

When does emotional commitment begin and end?

It starts the second someone applies for a job - they have shown some level of emotional commitment. It can start in one or two places when someone applies for a job with your company or when they connect with your brand/mission/product/service.

Emotional commitment ends before someone quits. What typically happens is they are just doing what they need to get by because they are no longer emotionally committed to the job or aspects of the work, but rather a fact that being employed provides, whether it is money, time, or security until something else comes along.

Side note: Great managers and leaders have been able to intuitively sense when someone is losing emotional commitment and can have an open conversation about what people are experiencing.

What’s tied to emotional commitment?

While this is not the complete list, these are some core areas that emotional commitment yields and what could be missing if it starts to fade:

  • Energy: the amount of energy one puts into something

  • Creativity: the creative flow someone has to offer

  • Dialogue: the amount of conversation one is willing to have

  • Ideas: the number of ideas someone is willing to share

  • Problem-solving: the desire to find a solution to a particular problem or situation

  • Perspective: offering a different perspective on a situation

  • Collaboration: the willingness or ability to collaborate with others

  • Engagement: similar to energy, the amount of involvement one has

  • Attention / Being Present: the desire to give prime attention to something

Think back to when you hired someone - chances are more than half of these unspoken or spoken qualities were part of the decision to bring them on. When emotional commitment is low, these qualities are compromised.

4 Ways To Create Emotional Commitment

We experience many emotional touchpoints in an hour, day, week, and month. Because of that, creating or establishing emotional commitment can be a bit tricky, however consistent with the following makes a huge difference:

Use Humanity: All humans want to be treated like human. They want to be seen, heard, and witnessed. They desire a level of kindness and grace to be given. This is key.

Show Appreciation: This is the start of emotional commitment. Going back to where emotional commitment starts at the job posting and often your company brand. Somehow you've captured a feeling of that person feeling appreciated enough for them to engage.

Build Trust: I've spoken about this in my Culture 101 Crash Course. There are two sure ways to build trust as a leader and possibly a brand. (1) Do what you say you are going to do consistently and (2) Show you care about others outside your direct sphere of influence. While it sounds simple enough, our humanity offers some complications.

Show Emotion: You get what you put out there. You see this a lot in commercials and ads, trying to grab some point of emotion. While you might dislike a specific commercial, it doesn't matter - they received an emotional response, and emotional responses are memorable.

Showing emotion showcases that it is safe for others to show emotion. Now there will be times this manipulated; however, combining the other three areas mentioned above, and folks will be able to put all the pieces together.

Final thoughts

Every employee at a company has a certain level of emotional commitment, and that commitment elevates or lowers depending on factors that may or may not seem relevant.

The lunar component of humanity exists within the workplace.

Humans are always the variable that business plans, strategies, and evaluations never see coming.

The ultimate goal with emotional commitment and where true success lies is before someone is hired and after leaving. They shine such a positive light on their experience and time there that it attracts the next wave of humans that work together to achieve a mutually satisfying goal. When that happens, you create a legacy company where the true significance that someone brings is honored beyond their time there and lives on long after.

Thank you for reading.

What would you like me to write about next?

Drop an idea in the comment or message me directly - I’d love to hear from you.

Want me to come to speak at your company or event about emotional commitment? Click here.


Charisse Fontes


I'm Charisse Fontes, human.

I write, speak and create things around humanity, company culture, and philosophy. My intuitive vibe provides practical and tactile guidance for humans and companies. In short, I connect “the woo” and the work to amplify workplaces, home spaces, and communities.

I'd love to connect with you on Linkedin.

Here are some links if you're interested in learning more about what I do:



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