Social Contract Theory and the Workplace: What Hiring Managers and Employees Should Know

Whether you are a hiring manager looking to build a thriving team or an employee seeking a fulfilling work environment, understanding the principles of the social contract theory can make a world of difference.

Workplace social contract puts particular focus on the mutual responsibilities and obligations that exist between employers and employees.

Social Contract: Meaning

Social contract theory is a philosophical idea that examines the relationship between individuals and society. In a workplace context, this theory refers to the tacit agreement outlining employers’ and employees’ rights, responsibilities, and expectations.

It lays the foundation for the employment relationship and forms the interactions and dynamics within the organization.

Read Also: Importance of Human Resources Management Courses for HR Managers and Employers

Elements of the Social Contract in the Workplace

There are three main elements of a social contract in the workplace;

  1. Consent

The idea of consent is crucial to the social contract theory. Consent refers to the voluntary agreement between employers and employees to enter an employment relationship. Both parties consent to follow specific guidelines, expectations, and standards. In cases of any breach of agreement, the defaulter faces the consequences of their actions.

  1. Rights and responsibilities

The social contract theory recognizes that each employee has organizational duties and rights. Employees are entitled to equitable treatment, a secure working atmosphere, and fair compensation in the workplace. They must also carry out their work responsibilities, help accomplish the company’s success, and abide by the set rules and policies.

While expecting workers to meet performance standards and operate in the company’s best interests, employers are also responsible for providing a supportive work environment, reasonable wages, and opportunities for development.

  1. Mutual Benefit

In the workplace, the employment relationship should benefit employers and employees. Employees benefit from job security, earnings, and career advancement opportunities, while employers gain from their employees’ skills, knowledge, and input.

Features of the Social Contract Theory

  1. Voluntary agreement

Employee willingly enters into a contract to create a build a life. This agreement hangs on the knowledge that being a part of an organization offers advantages and protections that the employee cannot obtain independently. Hence, employers and employees should understand their roles and be ready to fulfill them willingly.

  1. Communication and transparency

The social contract hypothesis proposes good communication and transparency between the people involved. Employers should keep channels of communication open with employees and make sure that expectations, goals, and changes are made clear.

Employees can better trust administrators because of open communication and transparent decision-making processes, which also help them comprehend the motives behind organizational policies and practices. Besides, communication and transparency also improves workplace culture.

  1. Trust and cooperation

Trust in the workplace is essential for an efficient and effective working environment. Employers must have confidence that workers will do their jobs well, and workers must have faith that employers will treat them fairly and give them opportunities to advance. The accomplishment of common aims and objectives is made attainable by cooperation between employers and employees, and such cooperation build personal and organizational integrity.

  1. Equality and fairness

Equality and fairness refer to equitable opportunity for all workers in the workplace, regardless of their upbringing or individual traits. Consistently applying policies, using fair decision-making procedures, and giving awards and recognition are all manifestations of fairness.

Read Also: Information Management: Meaning and Benefits in Organizations

What Hiring Managers Should Know about Social Contract

The hiring manager’s position is crucial in maintaining the social contract. HRs are in charge of identifying, selecting, and onboarding employees who align with the company’s objectives and values. They are to ensure that expectations, wages, and perks are all adequately explained in terms of employment. However, the following will give insights into what employers should know:

  1. Creating a positive work environment

By encouraging a culture of trust, fairness, and open communication, hiring managers can help to create a healthy work environment. Employee participation in decision-making processes, feedback gathering, and contribution recognition can all help to achieve this.

Hiring managers can improve work happiness and loyalty by treating staff with respect and offering them professional development opportunities.

  1. Maintaining the social contract

The HR should uphold the workplace social contract throughout the job relationship. Maintenance of social contract includes supporting the agreements reached, paying workers fairly, fostering a secure and welcoming workplace, and immediately and appropriately resolving any complaints or issues.

Frequent performance reviews and helpful criticism help maintain responsibility and ensure that both sides meet their obligations.

  1. Employee recognition and incentives

To recognize and value the efforts and accomplishments of their staff, employers should put in place an employee recognition and incentives system. Recognizing workers’ achievements can strengthen a supportive workplace environment, improve morale, and raise work satisfaction.

Verbal acknowledgment, employee awards, performance-based bonuses, or chances for professional progression can all help with this. Employers should work to foster a culture of appreciation and make sure that rewards are equitable and open.

  1. Opportunities for professional development

To assist their employees’ growth and advancement, employers should offer their employees opportunities for professional development. Training courses, seminars, workshops, mentorship relationships, and tuition assistance for higher education all fall under this category.

Enhancing an employee’s abilities and knowledge while showing an interest in their long-term success and contentment are two benefits of investing in their professional development. Employers contribute to the social compact by establishing a learning environment that allows employees to realize their full potential.

Read Also: What is Human Resource?

  1. Clear communication and transparency

When dealing with employees, employers should place a high priority on clear communication and transparency. Regular updates on changes in the organization, strategic goals, and any other pertinent information that can impact employees’ work are part of this.

Transparent decision-making procedures promote fairness and inclusivity while helping to increase trust. Employers must ensure that communication channels are open, welcome suggestions and criticism, and promptly and openly handle employee grievances.

What Employees Should Know about Social Contract

As an employee, understanding the intricacies of your workplace can empower you to navigate workplace challenges seamlessly. Hence, you need to;

  1. Understand your rights and responsibilities

As an employee, you should be aware of your rights and duties in the workplace. Understanding corporate policy, employee contracts, and relevant labor laws are part of this. Employees aware of their rights may advocate for fair treatment and ensure that their opinions are recognized.

  1. Fulfill your duties

You should perform your job responsibilities to the best of your abilities. It would be best to contribute to the company’s overall success by working diligently and satisfying performance standards. Learn to be proactive, accept responsibility for work, and strive for continuous improvement.

  1. Develop professionally

You must utilize the potential for professional development and progress that employers provide. You can raise your worth to the organization’s expectations, perform better and advance your career by developing relevant skills and knowledge.

A commitment to the social contract is shown by actively participating in training programs, asking for feedback, and setting personal development goals.

  1. Embrace ethical conduct

Strive to uphold ethical conduct in the workplace, including being honest, respectful and maintaining confidentiality when necessary. Ethical behavior fosters trust among colleagues and contributes to a positive work environment. It is essential to adhere to ethical guidelines and company values in their interactions with coworkers, clients, and stakeholders.

  1. Collaborate

You must understand how crucial cooperation and great teamwork are to accomplishing company objectives. You can assist and contribute to a cohesive and high-performing team by cooperating successfully with coworkers, sharing information and resources, and being supportive of one another.

Collaboration entails speaking up during meetings, being constructive in communication, and being open to hearing diverse viewpoints.

  1. Be accountable

You must be personally responsible for your choices and behaviors. Where necessary, you should admit mistakes and take action to address any unfavorable effects. Fulfilling agreements, following deadlines, and taking responsibility for your actions make you accountable. You will contribute to a culture of trust and dependability by exhibiting personal accountability.


The social contract theory offers a valuable framework for comprehending rights and freedoms in business. However, it is crucial to remember that the contract’s specifics can differ across various African nations, cultures, legal systems, and organizations.

Both employers and employees must agree to create a fair and sustainable business environment if they continue to work together.


“Did you enjoy this article? Connect with us on Twitter or follow our Linkedin page for more exciting insights” 

Chidubem Gabson
Chidubem Gabson
Chidubem Gabson is an experienced content writer. She has written several articles across lifestyle, business growth and personal development. Her storytelling technique is top notch and she does not fail to deliver engaging and useful content.

Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here