Empowerment, engagement and perceived effectiveness in nursing work environments: does experience matter?

Heather K Spence Laschinger, Piotr Wilk, Julia Cho, Paula Greco
Journal of Nursing Management 2009, 17 (5): 636-46

AIMS: We examined the impact of empowering work conditions on nurses' work engagement and effectiveness, and compared differences among these relationships in new graduates and experienced nurses.

BACKGROUND: As many nurses near retirement, every effort is needed to retain nurses and to ensure that work environments are attractive to new nurses. Experience in the profession and generational differences may affect how important work factors interact to affect work behaviours.

METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of survey data from two studies and compared the pattern of relationships among study variables in two groups: 185 nurses 2 years post-graduation and 294 nurses with more than 2 years of experience.

RESULTS: A multi-group SEM analysis indicated a good fit of the hypothesized model. Work engagement significantly mediated the empowerment/effectiveness relationship in both groups, although the impact of engagement on work effectiveness was significantly stronger for experienced nurses.

CONCLUSIONS: Engagement is an important mechanism by which empowerment affects nurses feelings of effectiveness but less important to new graduates' feelings of work effectiveness than empowerment. Implications for nursing management Managers must be aware of the role of empowerment in promoting work engagement and effectiveness and differential effects on new graduates and more seasoned nurses.

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