The Psychological Contract and Employee Engagement: In the ever-evolving landscape of the professional world, organizations frequently undergo transformations, be it reorganizations or downsizing. Such changes can have a profound impact on employees, and in this blog post, we explore the concept of the psychological contract and its role in managing employee expectations during times of uncertainty.
Understanding Employee Concerns:
Picture a scenario where a dedicated department director faces the looming possibility of their position being eliminated amid a major reorganization.
The emotional toll is evident – unease about the future, devastation at the thought of decades of service potentially coming to an abrupt end, and a profound sense of betrayal.
This scenario underscores the importance of addressing the often unspoken expectations that employees hold regarding their relationship with their employers.
The Psychological Contract:
The psychological contract is an implicit agreement between employees and employers, built on unspoken expectations. This contract operates in the background of our professional lives, influencing our dedication, work ethic, and overall engagement. The challenge lies in the fact that these expectations are often unconscious, making it crucial for organizations to bring them into the open.
Managing Expectations Proactively:
To prevent a breach in the psychological contract, organizations must proactively manage expectations. This can be achieved through various stages, starting from the initial hiring process, extending through onboarding, and reinforcing expectations during orientation and training. Regular check-ins throughout the year can also serve as a valuable tool in maintaining a clear understanding of both employer and employee expectations.
A Simple Exchange:
Simplifying expectations is a key component of managing the psychological contract. For instance, an employee may commit to giving their all – their expertise, experience, and knowledge – to the organization. In return, they expect a regular paycheck every two weeks. This straightforward agreement, communicated clearly and consistently, lays the foundation for a healthier and more transparent relationship between the employer and the employee.
Your Experiences Matter:
As we delve into the complexities of the psychological contract, we invite you to share your experiences. When did you feel a breach in your psychological contract?
How did it impact your engagement and relationship with your employer?
Your insights contribute to a broader discussion on managing expectations in the workplace.
In times of change, acknowledging and managing the psychological contract becomes paramount. By fostering open communication and setting clear expectations, organizations can build resilient and engaged teams even in the face of uncertainty. The psychological contract, when well-nurtured, can serve as the bedrock of a positive and mutually beneficial employer-employee relationship.
Thank you for reading, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on managing the psychological contract in your professional journey.
Maria is a local government and corporate alum with Fortune 500 experience, and academia adventures that constitute a treasure trove of colorful experiences over 20 years. With a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, Maria works with local governments to create workplaces that attract and retain the best talent. Yes, she is the author of Love-Based Leadership: The Model for Leading with Strength, Grace, and Authenticity – and no, it is not a book about Kumbaya, puppies, kittens, or rainbows. Her latest book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Power, Love, and Influence was released in June 2021. Maria is a classic rock and Motown junkie who hopes to learn drums from Keith Moon and Benny Benjamin in Rock-N-Roll Heaven.