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The impact on the psychological contract of differentiating employees into talent pools

Noko Seopa (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Sandton, South Africa)
Albert Wöcke (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Sandton, South Africa)
Camilla Leeds (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Sandton, South Africa)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

This research stems from the need by organisations to retain their key talent in the context of the change in the psychological contract manifested from the emergence of boundaryless careers. Many organisations have segmented their workforce to develop talent pools of high potential employees to meet the organisation’s current and future critical skills needs. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of inclusion or exclusion in the talent pool on the psychological contract.

Design/methodology/approach

The study presents findings from 195 employees from three different organisations, about 50 per cent of whom were in talent pools. Various instruments in the literature were used to measure the psychological contract and the other constructs of organisational citizenship behaviour, trust and turnover intention of employees in the talent pools in comparison to those not in talent pools.

Findings

The study shows that being part of the talent pool has a positive impact on the relational psychological contract and organisational commitment but does not necessarily translate into trust and the intention to stay with organisations.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted in three large firms with well-developed and entrenched talent management strategies. The results may be different in firms with less formal talent management strategies or those firms that do not use talent pools. Despite these limitations, the study is valuable in showing the differences in relationships between employees recognised as more important and those not recognised in the same way.

Practical implications

Talent strategy should not ignore employees not in talent pools as they have shown that they display an aspiration to build long-term relationships with their employers and could represent a future source of potential. It is recommended that organisations should continue to segment their workforce to determine who should form part of the talent pool.

Social implications

The results indicate the high complexity in understanding contemporary employment relationships and could be closely related to the previous findings on trust. Despite being identified as potential employees for development into linchpin and pivotal positions in their organisation, these employees were no different to employees not in talent pools when it came to trust and the intention to leave their organisation.

Originality/value

Employees in talent pools and those not in talent pools were similar in their intention to leave their organisations in circumstances where their expectations were not met. This finding is contrary to the expectation and indicates that relational psychological contracts do not have a moderating impact on the intention to leave where expectations are not met.

Keywords

Citation

Seopa, N., Wöcke, A. and Leeds, C. (2015), "The impact on the psychological contract of differentiating employees into talent pools", Career Development International, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 717-732. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-03-2015-0033

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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