The psychological contract: Is the UK National Health Service a model employer?

Sandra Fielden, Fiona Whitingy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The UK National Health Service (NHS) is facing recruitment challenges that mean it will need to become an 'employer of choice' if it is to continue to attract high-quality employees. This paper reports the findings from a study focusing on allied health professional staff (n = 67), aimed at establishing the expectations of the NHS inherent in their current psychological contract and to consider whether the government's drive to make the NHS a model employer meets those expectations. The findings show that the most important aspects of the psychological contract were relational and based on the investment made in the employment relationship by both parties. The employment relationship was one of high involvement but also one where transactional contract items, such as pay, were still of some importance. Although the degree of employee satisfaction with the relational content of the psychological contract was relatively positive, there was, nevertheless, a mismatch between levels of importance placed on such aspects of the contract and levels of satisfaction, with employees increasingly placing greater emphasis on those items the NHS is having the greatest difficulty providing. Despite this apparent disparity between employee expectation and the fulfilment of those expectations, the overall health of the psychological contract was still high. ©2007 Royal Society of Medicine Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-104
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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