Tag Archives: Social Contract

The Unspoken Rules of Work: Defining the NEW Social Contract

Bye-bye lifelong employment, gold watches and pension plans. Hello to a new set of work and career rules.

Our changing relationship with work is a central component in my new book. So, I’ve been doing a great deal of research trying to discover what’s in the new social contact – what exactly is expected by organizations and what can employees except in return. In short, what are the rules of engagement in this new world of work?

The New Social Contract

What to Expect in Your Career:

  1. You’ll have more jobs in a career: A 20th century taboo is evaporating before our eyes. Lifelong employment is a thing of the past. As companies have surrendered their commitment to their employees, we’ve become a job-seeking nation.
  2. Your career will likely span multiple roles and industries: Over the next generation, workers will be freed to switch functional roles and even transition to new industries with relative ease.
  3. More than ever before, organizations will focus on and value your ability to learn: Assessing a candidate’s ability to absorb information and learn new skills will be the most sought after competency for non-technical jobs. Let’s face it. What you are doing quite well today may not be a needed function in the future. Are you prepared to fill a new role?
  4. Your ability to effectively contribute and lead a team (especially ad-hoc or self-organizing teams) is fast becoming a critical success factor.

The research is pretty clear on what organizations want and need, but I’d like to hear from you on what employees want!

The following is a list of job characteristics mentioned in a number of surveys. Is there something missing? Is there some expectation of your job that’s not on the list?

What Employees Want and Expect:

  • Control (some)
  • Care (as a person)
  • Equitable compensation (vs. others)
  • Challenged (mind)
  • Nourished (soul)
  • Protected (healthcare, retirement, disability, unemployment)
  • Advancement
  • Recognition
  • Social component (work with great people)
  • Pride (self-respect)
  • Development opportunities (learning/insights/new skills)
  • Flexible workplace (physical or virtual facilities)
  • Adventure (variety)
  • Mission greater than ourselves (what I do matters/purpose)
  • Wow factor (brand or industry attractiveness)
  • Responsibility and empowerment (ability to make an impact)
  • Work/life imbalance/unbalance


Please share your thoughts with me by sending an email to:



Mackling & Jensen as paraphrased in Bass (2008). The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research and Managerial Applications.

Jobvite, The Polling Company, Inc.  Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study. (2014). Retrieved September 25, 2015, fromhttp://web.jobvite.com/rs/jobvite/images/2014 Job Seeker Survey.pdf