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Psychological contract

Why a psychological contract is just as important as a written one

2 min read

You might not have heard of the term ‘psychological contract’. It’s an unwritten mutual agreement of expectations and perceptions between people and their employer (and vice versa).

The psychological contract can form because of initial conversations, the recruitment process, induction, and on-boarding, as well as general internal communication and discussions. 

It plays a huge role in the perception of mutual trust, respect, and appreciation within the workplace. It’s what makes up the relationship between companies, managers, and their teams. It’s also based on the joint obligation of fair treatment toward each other. 

Having a poor psychological contract can be detrimental

As with most relationships, if the actions or attitude of either party doesn’t positively align, trust is lost causing the relationship to break down. This can have an adverse effect on the motivation, productivity and even retentions of your team.

How to introduce and reinforce a positive psychological contract

First impressions count. So, it’s essential to ensure new starters receive a tailored and carefully created onboarding process; particularly during these remote-focused times.

A few ways this can be done is: 

  • Keep communication going: Particularly for those that have notice periods to serve, or a later start date, stay in contact by periodically checking in. This will provide a sense of security and instil greater trust. 
  • Get their work set-up sorted: This is even more important now so many of us are home-based and don’t have the resources the office brings. Ensure they have everything they need to show up on their first day. This includes physical equipment, virtual chat groups and important information (logins, emails, passwords etc.). 
  • Provide a warm welcome: Think outside the box to create fun interactions and remote-friendly social events. Having the opportunity to get to know, mix, and socialise with co-workers helps build and maintain a sense of belonging from day one.
  • Organise a personalised training schedule: Not just for the first day but an on-going basis with regular support sessions and wellbeing checks. Assign a mentor/buddy to help create a sense of the company’s values and culture; something that shouldn’t be neglected when working remotely.

Onboarding isn’t a one size fits all approach. Equipping people with the right knowledge, clarity, and support from the start, not only sets a positive tone and the foundation for mutual trust; it also means people have a clear understanding of their role and what’s expected of them whilst having the support and guidance to succeed.  

HappyHQ helps companies easily recognise, implement, and sustain important culture changes. We put people at the heart of your culture goals, because no one experiences company culture more than its people.

To find out more about our methodology, click here.