Again, those who had reflected on what might have been were more committed to the company than those who merely recited history. As reported in the online version of the journal Psychological Science, these workers also had higher hopes for the company’s continued success into the future. But most important, it appeared that it was indeed a strong sense of poignancy—that strange mix of happiness and sadness in the same moment—that linked “what if” thinking with company loyalty. They also discovered, in a slightly different version of the study, that these “what if” thinkers felt their connection with the company was “meant to be”—inevitable, a matter of fate.
These findings have practical implications for organizations. To increase worker loyalty, the scientists say, an organization should simply tell its corporate story in a way that emphasizes its precarious origins. This strategy might at some point benefit the organization more than the worker, however: “what if” reflections could produce too rosy a view of the present and future, causing loyalists to stay too long on a sinking ship.
This article was originally published with the title The Midnight Ride Effect.