Understanding the Psychological Contract

Activity Description:


To reflect on the psychological contract and to relate it to experiences of employment


Ask members of the class to interview other students in the class who currently have or have in the past had paid employment. The interviews can be in pairs, or several students could interview one person, depending on how many have students had paid employment experience.

The interviewers should explore questions, such as:

1. What sort of employment contract did/do you have? (permanent, temporary, part time, holiday etc). What were the official terms of employment?

2. What did your employer expect from you? Which expectations were explicit? Which ones implicit?

3. What did you expect from your employer? In general, and concerning work and family or flexibility?

4. Have you any experience of the employer violating your expectations? How did it affect your attitudes and behaviour at work?

5. Have you had any experiences where the employer did more than you expected? How did this affect your attitudes and behaviour?

6. Can you relate your experience to any of the forms of psychological contract described in the reading?

7. What will you expect from a future employer:

  • in general?
  • concerning work and family or flexibility?
  • Are there any gender differences in the experiences and expectations in this group? Why might this be?

8. Do you think the Psychological Contract is a useful way of looking at employment experiences and expectations?

Activity Source:

Content contributed by Janet Smithson as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity