The New Social Contract for Work

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Since the pandemic began, how we look at workplace culture has dramatically changed. Pre-pandemic, the social contact was pretty standard and served as an unwritten understanding of what a company will provide for its employees; benefits, PTO, and other perks were the meat of the contract. However, in a new post-pandemic world, that has all changed. Employees are questioning organizations more about what their workplaces can provide in terms of flexibility, well-being, and mental health. This shift in the marketplace is a time for employers to reimagine what the new social contract means in today's world. 


According to Gallup's research, only 33% of employees in the U.S. are actively engaged in their work [21% globally]. Much of this has to do with how we see these social contracts and how they impact workplace engagement. With percentages decreasing since 2020, we must ask ourselves how we can co-create new social contracts that are mutually beneficial for both the employee and the employer. Here are three areas to consider to re-engineer a better, more conscious workplace. 


1. Be Clear on Expectations 


Communication is the most crucial step to creating an impactful relationship for leaders and organizations looking to grow in today's world. It is the first step to building a relationship and opens the lines to create a better understanding of how an organization will work with its employees on a day-to-day basis. Based on a recent study done by, as many as 74% of employees state that they miss out on company news and information. Communication is important and something employees today are looking for more and more. Gone are the days of surface-level communication. Open the lines, be clear, and let your team members know the goals and how you will reach them together.  


2. Create a More Collaborative Environment


With a younger generation starting to move into the workplace post-pandemic, one of the main things individuals look for today, now more than ever, is a collaborative environment. It's human nature for us to work together no matter how much we disagree; we naturally gravitate towards it. Even the historic philosopher Marcus Aurelius famously said, "Humans have come into being for the sake of each other." Employees today want to know that they have an environment they can grow in, and that means having a collaborative environment. Working together is the only way we can grow as individuals and as an organization. Let your employees know this is paramount when working within your organization. 


3. Ask How You Can Improve


Often we overcomplicate what it means to lead, grow and create an impactful culture. While thinking about what the new social contract means today, there's one way that can help you define what it means for your company. Just ask! Rather than guessing.  This can come in a multitude of different ways. One of the most effective ways is one-on-ones with your team members. This helps build a relationship with each employee and gives you clear insight into what matters most to them based on the feedback they give. Another effective way is by creating a cadence of gatherings with your team as a group. This informal environment brings us out of the typical work structure, allows your team to speak in a more comfortable setting, and helps them to collaborate. This gives you, the employer, a chance to align yourself and your values as an organization with the employees and define what the social contract means in a new ecosystem. 


What's Next?


Start implementing! Take action now to develop your work environment. We spent much time navigating the difficulties of work culture over the last few years. Now it's time to turn the ships into a direction of growth, but most importantly, one that seeks to build relationships with our teams. Work together to define what that looks like moving forward, and you'll begin to define what the new social contract means to your organization. The sooner you do, the more impactful a culture you'll have with employees that will adopt and impact others.

looking to re-write the social contract for your organization, consider revisiting your core values. Do they still apply, or do they need a refresh? DH has created our Core Values Refresh Workshop so that you can make your values relevant to the way you work today. 

Core values refresh workshop

About the Author

DJ Cardenas

DJ Cardenas, MSML, is a leadership author, speaker, and consultant who built his career within the hospitality industry. As an expert on hospitality, he quickly became well known in the Charlotte, NC market and quickly rose as a young director & executive. While growing his career, he has been highly recognized for his work with large teams, his leadership, and dedication to helping others become impactful leaders themselves. 

Connect with DJ,; @dj.cardenas;


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