Employers stand to create a chain reaction of problems at their companies by breaking promises made to their employees.

Two researchers from the London School of Economics and the Durham University Business School found that an employer’s act of breaking a promise to an employee can adversely affect everything from employee morale to client interaction and overall productivity.

A broken promise, such as refusal to give a promised pay raise, can leave an employee’s mental energy drained, they write on the London School of Economics’ “Management With Impact” blog.

That employee’s “drained energy” is where the chain reaction begins. Next, an employee drained of mental energy might seek revenge or behave poorly to co-workers and clients. Co-workers treated poorly may also find themselves distracted from doing good jobs. A disgruntled employee might spend any remaining energy trying to figure out why a promise was broken, which may lead to sloppy work and recommendations with a client.

An unhappy client, in turn, is bad for business.

To counter this, managers must be transparent and try to clarify why they could not fulfill their promise to an employee or employees. Focusing on how the broken promise can be rectified in the future may also help.

Click on this link to read more of the researchers’ blog posting, which, in turn, carries a link to the authors’ research in the Journal of Applied Psychology.