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Workplace empowerment, incivility, and burnout: impact on staff nurse recruitment and retention outcomes


Heather K. Spence Laschinger
Distinguished University Professor and Associate Director Nursing Research
Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing
The University of Western Ontario
1151 Richmond Street
N6A 5C1


Aim  The aim of this study was to examine the influence of empowering work conditions and workplace incivility on nurses’ experiences of burnout and important nurse retention factors identified in the literature.

Background  A major cause of turnover among nurses is related to unsatisfying workplaces. Recently, there have been numerous anecdotal reports of uncivil behaviour in health care settings.

Method  We examined the impact of workplace empowerment, supervisor and coworker incivility, and burnout on three employee retention outcomes: job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions in a sample of 612 Canadian staff nurses.

Results  Hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses revealed that empowerment, workplace incivility, and burnout explained significant variance in all three retention factors: job satisfaction (R2 = 0.46), organizational commitment (R2 = 0.29) and turnover intentions (R2 = 0.28). Empowerment, supervisor incivility, and cynicism most strongly predicted job dissatisfaction and low commitment (P < 0.001), whereas emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and supervisor incivility most strongly predicted turnover intentions.

Conclusions  In our study, nurses’ perceptions of empowerment, supervisor incivility, and cynicism were strongly related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions.

Implications for nursing management  Managerial strategies that empower nurses for professional practice may be helpful in preventing workplace incivility, and ultimately, burnout.