Workplace empowerment and employee health and wellbeing

Authored by: Heather Spence Laschinger , Emily Read

The Routledge Companion to Wellbeing at Work

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138955943
eBook ISBN: 9781315665979
Adobe ISBN:


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The link between workplace empowerment and employee health and wellbeing has gained considerable attention over the last few decades as organizations recognize the benefits of supporting employees’ ability to accomplish their work in a meaningful way and, thus, contribute to organizational effectiveness (Bowen & Lawler, 1995). The notion of employee empowerment evolved from a change in management thinking from a top-down command and control model to greater employee involvement in conditions that affect their work (Bowen & Lawler, 1995). Over the last two decades, both structural empowerment, which refers to employees’ access to organizational structures needed to accomplish their work (Bowen & Lawler, 1995; Kanter, 1977, 1993), and psychological empowerment, which refers to employees’ internal motivational orientation towards their job (Spreitzer, 1995; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990), have been studied in a wide variety of organizational settings. Results from this body of research have consistently demonstrated the important role that workplace empowerment plays for employees and organizations alike. This chapter focuses in particular on the role of workplace empowerment in fostering employee health and wellbeing. In it we summarize research linking structural and psychological empowerment to both positive and negative workplace wellbeing and describe evidence-based empowerment strategies that can be used by leaders to ensure optimal workplace health.

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