Postgraduate Dissertation

COVID-19: What impact has the Pandemic had on the psychological contract of Head Office employees at the John Lewis Partnership?


This study aims to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the psychological contract of head office employees at the John Lewis Partnership. More specifically, it is the enforced move to home working that has the potential to disrupt employee and employer expectations that have been ingrained over many years. The pandemic has been considered a business experiment in terms of ways of working (Bartik et al., 2020). Therefore, it is relevant to understand what other costs there may be over and above improved financials (from an ability to reduce office space etc.), such as a deterioration in the commitments and obligations that form the psychological contract. Literature is reviewed to understand and critically analyse the concept of the psychological contract and a number of specific facets of its nature that give a picture of the value it can have. Additionally, literature is reviewed relating to working from home and covid-19, albeit the latter is limited due to the emerging nature of the pandemic. Research is then designed to understand what impact the pandemic may have had. A survey is conducted asking head office employees at the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) to access their employment relationship with JLP at two different time points: before the pandemic and during. Results are then analysed, and a conclusion is drawn that the research demonstrates that there has been an overall negative impact of the pandemic and home working on the psychological contract. With aspects such as loyalty, job stability and erosion of benefits most acutely impacted. There then follows four costed recommendations to improve psychological contract fulfilment, such as mental health awareness training and continued enhanced levels of communication. Finally, the limitations of this study are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.

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Burton, Simon


Rights Holders: Burton, Simon
Supervisors: Bernardi, Andrea

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School

Degree programme

MA Human Resource Management



© Burton, Simon
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