When employees get p*$$ed off. What the manager does next makes a difference...

When employees get p*$$ed off. What the manager does next makes a difference…


This is the first of 4 articles looking at what happens when people in organisations feel aggrieved and how the research shows, managers should deal with it.

Part 1 Psychological Contract Breaches & 3 Types of Employee Dissent (This post)

Part 2 The 3 Forms of Organisational Dissent

Part 3 The 5 Different Dissent Strategies

Part 4 Management Responses


In Part One I will look at the issue of psychological contract breaches and detail the 3 Types of Employee Dissent.

It is estimated that somewhere between 50 and 70% of employees, will, at some point in their employment feel that the organisation has wronged, mistreated or let them down in some way.

These issues are referred to as psychological contract breaches. This is where an employee feels that the organisation has failed to fulfil its obligations to them. Over the years there has been a considerable amount of research attention looking at these psychological contract breaches and their effect.

Be impressively well-informed

Get your FREE organizational and people development research briefings, infographics, video research briefings, a free copy of The Oxford Review and more...

Be impressively well-informed and up-to-date

Powered by ConvertKit

Previous research

Previous research has found that psychological contract breaches are a major trigger for employee dissent. What this means is that an employee perceives some form of inconsistency between what is happening right now and what they think should be happening. Psychologically people perceive this as a breakdown in their relationship with the organisation because the organisation has not met its obligations to them.
Research published in 2002 found that almost 70% of employees felt that their organisation had committed a psychological contract breach in the last 10 days by not meeting one of its promised obligations. Many research studies have found that psychological contract breaches link directly to negative employee attitudes and behaviours and, in situations where these contract breaches continue over a period of time, lead to heightened intention to leave. Psychological contract breaches also lead to cynicism, pessimism, and suspicion about the motives of the organisation, its leaders and its managers.

This study

A study has just been published in the journal, Management Communication Quarterly by researchers from universities in the Netherlands and South Africa in which they have looked at this issue, focusing particularly on the issue of employee dissent as a result of psychological contract breaches by organisations.

3 Types of employee dissent

Previous research has identified three different types of employee dissent:

  1. Personal advantage dissent
  2. Principled dissent, and
  3. Other focused dissent.

Personal advantage dissent refers to a situation where an individual feels that an action or decision by the organisation has put them personally at a disadvantage, for example, having to work extra hours or perform extra duties. This form of dissent is focused solely on improving his or her situation rather than that of fellow workers, which would be referred to as other focused dissent, or to make an improvement to the organisation generally, known as principled dissent.
A number of research studies have found that psychological contract breaches decrease job satisfaction, organisational commitment and reduce performance.

In the next article (Part 2) I will look at the 3 Forms of organisational dissent (not the same as the 3 types of employee dissent).



Members only

Be impressively well informed

Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published

Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...

Powered by ConvertKit
Like what you see? Help us spread the word

David Wilkinson