Relational energy at work: Implications for job engagement and job performance

By: Wayne Baker, Kim S. Cameron, Dana McDaniel Sumpter, Bradley P. Owens

Owens, B. P., Baker, W. E., Sumpter, D. M., & Cameron, K. S. (2016). Relational energy at work: Implications for job engagement and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(1), 35-49. Doi:


Energy is emerging as a topic of importance to organizations, yet we have little understanding of how energy can be useful at an interpersonal level toward achieving workplace goals. We present the results of 4 studies aimed at developing, validating, and testing the relational energy construct. In Study 1, we report qualitative insights from 64 individuals about the experience and functioning of relational energy in the workplace. Study 2 draws from 3 employee samples to conduct exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses on a measure of relational energy, differentiating relational energy from related constructs. To test the predictive validity of the new relational energy scale, Study 3 comprises data from employees rating the level of relational energy they experienced during interactions with their leaders in a health services context. Results showed that relational energy employees experienced with their leaders at Time 1 predicted job engagement at Time 2 (1 month later), while controlling for the competing construct of perceived social support. Study 4 shows further differentiation of relational energy from leader–member exchange (LMX), replicates the positive relationship between relational energy (Time 1) and job engagement (Time 2), and shows that relational energy is positively associated with employee job performance (Time 3) through the mechanism of job engagement. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings and highlight areas for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)