Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the moderating influences of empowerment and professional development on role stress-commitment relationships, while examining and confirming the effects of role stress on organisational commitment. Design/methodology/approach: The results are drawn from a cross-sectional survey of 184 front-line employees (FLEs) from a travel service organization. Multiple and moderated regression analyses were employed to test the hypothesised direct and interaction effects. Findings: The results show that role stressors influence affective organizational commitment in FLEs negatively. Role ambiguity did not, unexpectedly, influence continuance commitment positively, but role conflict did. Professional development and empowerment are important management tools that can be used to combat the detrimental effect of role stress on organizational commitment. The paper finds empowerment to be particularly useful in combating the dysfunctional effects of role ambiguity on affective commitment, while professional development is a key tool that helps to combat the dysfunctional effects of role conflict on affective and continuance commitment. However, there are caveats associated with the implementation of these management tools. Practical implications: It is important for management to understand role stress from the FLE perspective, and strategically use intervention tools to help moderate the effects of role stress on organizational commitment components. Originality/value: This study adds further support to the literature that role ambiguity and role conflict should be studied as distinct components of role stress because treating role stress as a single construct may result in suboptimal outcomes for managers, and misleading findings for researchers. In this context, the paper contributes to literature by investigating the moderating impact of empowerment and professional development on the role stress-affective commitment/continuance commitment relationships. The findings suggest that different managerial strategies are required to combat the effect of each of these role stressors on the affective and continuance components of commitment respectively. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.