The Social Contract


I am participating in the Foundations of the Social Age MOOC and as a way of making sense of what I am learning I am reflecting in this blog space.

Over the past week or so I have explored the evolving relationship between employee and employer and how that is changing in the social age.   We now not only have a legal contract with our employers, we also have a social contract.

According to Julian Stodd, founder of SeaSalt learning in his YouTube video explaining concept:

The social contract is about the bond between the formal organization and the individual that works in it.  I am not talking about the legal contract.  It’s not something written down on a piece of paper. Legal contracts govern things like the job that we do, our pay, how much holiday we have. Legal contracts are important but social contracts are about the emotional bond between organization and employee.  It’s about things like loyalty and trust.

We were asked at the conclusion of this discussion to think about what the social contract meant to us.  For me, the social contract is Trust.

Trust me to do my job. Which in today’s social age means (for me):

  • The ability to collaborate and co-create with not only the people within my organization, but those outside my organization to help solve the challenges that we face.

What I find interesting about the notion of the social contract is that it I believe it can be different for different individuals.  What keeps me loyal/engaged/productive maybe different than what keeps you.

Julian mentions in the Social Age Handbook that:

The Social Age requires a Social Contract between employer and employee, based upon fairness, values, integrity and support . . .

I think if a company has these things well defined, truly lives it values, acts with generosity and fairness in all that it does, supports its people and creates a sense of shared purpose than it inherently has the ability meet the needs of individual employees . . . and when it can’t it knows how to let them go.

I learned of a good example of this  from a fellow participant, Donna Hewitson.  She shared an article written by Yummy Pub Company – The More You Love Them The More You Need to Let Them Go.

She explained:

It (the article) sums up their thinking around people, development, careers and what they can do if people chose to say stay or not.

To me, it is the perfect example of the “new” social contract and one that I personally want to have with my organization.

So what does the social contract mean to you?  Let me know in comments below.


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