Relational Energy & Employee Engagement: Role of Employee Voice & Organisational Support.

AuthorAmah, Okechukwu Ethelbert


Organizations require employees to do a lot of extra-role activities in order to be competitive in the 21st century business environment. This is because organizations cannot set and seal all that is required to achieve sustainable success in a constantly changing business environment. Hence, the need for the services of engaged employees who are willing and able to apply discretional efforts (extra-role efforts) aimed at helping their organizations to succeed. Engaged employees are very innovative because they apply their total self to their assigned job roles. They are interested and motivated to pursue the overall success of their organization. Engaged employees provide competitive advantage to their organizations, generate more revenue and total shareholders return, enhance the reputation of their organizations, and have low turnover, sick leave and industrial accident (Harter et al., 2002; Ugwu, 2013). Thus, engaged employees improve profitability by increasing revenue and decreasing cost of operations simultaneously. One major antecedent of employee engagement established by past studies is relational energy. Relational energy is generated and transmitted when employees interact with their supervisors or managers (Owen et al., 2016). It also serves as an organizational resource that helps engaged employees to manage the negative consequences of work-family conflict (Amah, 2016). Despite the efforts of past studies, the established relationship between relational energy and employee engagement is still low. For example, the study by Owen et al. (2016) explained only 7% of the variance in engagement. This implies that other variables may act as moderators or mediators of the relationship between relational energy and employee engagement. Organizational context is known to have major influence on how the interactions between organizational participants affect individual participant's performance, work attitude, and organizational outcomes (Amah, 2016; Anikan & Oyewole, 2014), and calls have been made for future studies to explore organizational context variables that can enhance the level of engagement of employees (Breevat et al., 2014; Wang & Hsieh, 2013). Hence, the current study considered culture that encourages employee voice and positive perception of organizational support as possible organizational context variables that can enhance the relationship between relational energy and engagement. The choice of these variables is based on two reasons. Engaged employees are very innovative and would need a favorable organizational environment to speak about changes required in their job as well as any obstacle to be removed to enhance their performance. Engaged employees would want to be sure that their organizations are willing to support them in their attempt to do what is right for the organization. Both employee voice and perception of organizational support have been established to moderate or mediate the relationship between organizational participants' interaction and employee attitudes (Amah & Okafor, 2008a, 2008b; Anikan & Oyewole, 2014). However, the authors did not find a study that reviewed the role played by organizational context in the relationship between relational energy and employee engagement. None was found that involved employee voice and perception of organizational support, relational energy, and employee engagement.

The current study makes the following contributions to both the engagement and relational energy literature; it determines and confirms the positive relationship between relational energy and employee engagement obtained by past studies; it explored the role played by two boundary variables, organizational environment that supports employee voice and positive perception of organizational support in the relationship between relational energy and employee engagement; and lastly, adds positively to the debate on how to enhance the result of the interaction between engaged employees and their leaders.

Theory & Hypothesis

Energy in the organizations can be positive or negative, it can be energizing or de-energizing, and can positively or negatively affect the performance of the employees (Quinn, Spreitzer & Lam, 2012; Schippers & Hogenes, 2011). Energy had not been explicitly discussed in organizational behavior studies, but is implied in most motivational concepts. Relational energy is a major component of organizational energy that arises from the interaction between organizational participants (Cross et al., 2003). It is a "heightened level of psychological resourcefulness generated from interpersonal interaction that enhances one's capacity to do work" (Owens et al., 2016:37). The aspect of relational energy in this study is that generated and transmitted through interaction ritual and social contagion theories (Collins, 2004; Owens et al., 2016), when employees interact with their leaders. Relational energy affects employee engagement and acts as a resource that helps engaged employee manage the negative consequences of work-family conflict (Amah, 2016; Owens et al., 2016).

Engaged employees are physically, mentally and emotionally present during the enactment of their assigned job roles. Kahn (1990) identified three states that employees consider in the process of engagement. Two of these states, psychological safety and availability, are particularly very useful in the context of the current study. Psychological safety is achieved when employees believe that exerting themselves to their job role and making or suggesting whatever changes required to be more effective will not be negatively viewed by the organization, and will not lead to negative consequence to their career. Psychological availability is when employees perceive that the organization will provide physical, emotional, and mental resources they need during the time they are engaged in the work role. Engaged employees will invest in any relationship that generates and transmits positive relational energy, and avoid that which generates and transmits negative energy. Thus, by the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964), and norm of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960), employees with positive relational energy will be more engaged in their job than those with negative relational energy. Thus, the following hypothesis is postulated:

H1: Relational energy is positively related to employee engagement.

Employee Voice, Perception of Organizational...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT