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Releasing the pressure valve: workplace relationships and engagement in a context of disruption

Parkinson, A. (2023) Releasing the pressure valve: workplace relationships and engagement in a context of disruption. In: Troth, A. C., Ashkanasy, N. M. and Humphrey, R. H. (eds.) Emotions During Times of Disruption. Research on Emotion in Organizations (18). Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 61-91. ISBN 9781803828381

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/S1746-979120220000018005


Purpose I aim to understand how informal relationships at work provide a supportive context for individuals and contribute to their engagement in an environment of disruptive change when they are likely to be stressed. Design The research was conducted in three UK public service organizations during pre-Brexit disruption. An app was used to capture 400+ transient emotions, reactions, and diary entries of employees about their interactions with co-workers, colleagues, and close colleagues. This was followed by 25 interviews to reflect more deeply on those relationships documented in the app. Findings Interactions with co-workers, colleagues, and close colleagues are shown to contribute in different ways to emotions felt and different aspects of engagement. Closer relationships, less transactional and more emotional in nature, contribute to feelings of trust, significance, and mutual reliance. A typology of four close colleague relationship types also emerged variously driven by the depth of the relationship and sense of shared mutuality. Value This research documents employees' lived experience during disruption to show that relationships provide support for the meaningfulness, psychological safety, and availability aspects of personal engagement. It maps the process of developing supportive workplace relationships that form the relational context with four sub-contexts, distinguishing work, and personal engagement by their different foci. Practical and social implications are discussed.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:110532
Uncontrolled Keywords:workplace relationships, personal engagement, psychological safety, relational context, emotion, context of disruption
Publisher:Emerald Publishing Limited


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