Today, many public professionals feel estranged from the policy programmes they implement; that is, they experience `policy alienation¿. This is of concern as, for satisfactory implementation, some identification with the policy is required. We conceptualize policy alienation based on the sociological concept of work alienation, and show how this can be used in policy implementation research. Studying a Dutch case of professionals implementing a new work disability decree, we observe how NPM practices increase policy alienation because of a perceived dysfunctional focus on efficiency and results. A large number of policy changes and stricter implementation rules further increased policy alienation.