A 'new' psychological contract for nurses: some management implications

J Nurs Manag. 1996 Mar;4(2):79-83.


Changes within the health services are raising a number of employment issues for nurses. The idea that a professional qualification and a job will lead to security of employment and career development is rapidly changing. These assumptions, the 'old' psychological contract, is giving way to new expectations from employers and employees; the emergence of a 'new' psychological contract. A psychological contract is an implicit agreement between employer and employee that each party will treat the other fairly. Such contracts are maintained by virtue of all parties wanting to seek agreement on issues where possible and to maintain trust. While such a contract is not a legally binding agreement it is nonetheless a binding understanding between people. Changes to this psychological contract can have important implications for individuals and their employer in terms of work and organizational commitment. This paper will discuss some of the issues surrounding psychological contracts and the impact of violating them. It will also discuss, from a management perspective, how psychological contracts develop between employer and employee, and how to form a 'new' psychological contract based upon mutual benefit and shared values.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contract Services / organization & administration*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Personnel Loyalty*