What do employees want and why? An exploration of employees’ preferred psychological contract elements across career stages
Employees’ psychological contracts comprise their beliefs about what they have to contribute to their organizations and what inducements they will receive in return. One recommended approach to attract and retain employees is to design psychological contracts that allow them to contribute in desirable ways and receive attractive inducements. However, we know little about the factors that affect psychological contract preferences. We present a qualitative study on the preferred psychological contracts of employees who are in different career stages. Our findings reveal that the roles and self-concepts that employees take on at a particular career stage may shape preferences for stage-relevant contributions and inducements. These findings advance psychological contract theory by highlighting the plausible link between employees’ career stages and their psychological contract preferences.