The influence of authentic leadership and empowerment on nurses’ relational social capital, mental health, and job satisfaction over the first year of practice


Aims: To examine a theoretical model testing the effects of authentic leadership, structural empowerment, and relational social capital on the mental health and job satisfaction of new graduate nurses over the first year of practice. Background: Relational social capital is an important interpersonal organizational resource that may foster new graduate nurses’ workplace wellbeing and promote retention. Evidence shows that authentic leadership and structural empowerment are key aspects of the work environment that support new graduate nurses, however the mediating role of relational social capital has yet to be explored. Design: A longitudinal survey design was used to test the hypothesized model. Methods: One hundred ninety-one new graduate nurses in Ontario with <2 years of experience completed mail surveys in Jan-March 2010 and 1 year later in 2011. Path analysis using structural equation modeling was used to test the theoretical model. Results: Participants were mostly female, working full-time in medicine/surgery or critical care. All measures demonstrated acceptable reliability and validity. Path analysis results supported our hypothesized model; structural empowerment mediated the relationship between authentic leadership and nurses’ relational social capital, which in turn had a negative effect on mental health symptoms and a positive effect on job satisfaction. All indirect paths in the model were significant. Conclusion: By creating structurally empowering work environments, authentic leaders foster relational social capital among new graduate nurses leading to positive health and retention outcomes