What is it about?

This paper looks at how employees’ self-regulatory abilities in the form of mindfulness can mitigate their emotional and behavioural reactions to the experience of psychological contract breach – the perception of employees that their organization has failed to fulfil its side of the deal, in the workplace. We suggest that mindfulness may allow employees the response flexibility to react in ways that are neither passive/resignating (such as suppressing one’s frustration), nor active but potentially counter-productive (such as engaging in deviance). This opens up the possibility for more helpful interpretations and emotions to emerge.

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Why is it important?

Employee deviance is estimated to cost organizations billions and a staggering 90% of employees admit to engaging in deviant behaviors of varying severity, ranging from purposefully slowing down work and intentionally arriving late at work to ignoring supervisor instructions and producing poor-quality work. A common cause of employee deviance is a desire to get even after psychological contract breach. Our results suggest that more mindful employees are less likely to respond to breach with deviance. Given that mindfulness can be developed through practice, akin to a skill, organizations could consider offering mindfulness training that will help employees engage in self-regulatory processes to better cope with adverse work experiences. We, however, emphasize that mindfulness training should not be used as appeasement of employees so that organizations can keep breaching psychological contracts without fear of employee reprisals. Employees can be justifiably angry following a breach. However, some degree of negative experiences at work are unavoidable and to the extent that mindfulness practices can help employees face these experiences productively, it should benefit the employee as well as the organization.

Perspectives

We hope our research highlights the importance of mindfulness practices in helping employees face negative experiences productively – it should benefit the employee as well as the organization. One of the strengths of our present research is the triangulation through different study designs using both survey and experimental approaches.

Samah Shaffakat
University of Liverpool

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This page is a summary of: Mindfulness attenuates both emotional and behavioral reactions following psychological contract breach: A two-stage moderated mediation model., Journal of Applied Psychology, March 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/apl0000878.
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