Human Relations Case Study

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
Essay type: Case Study
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Human Relations Human relations can be defined as a study of group behavior for the purpose of improving interpersonal and social relationships in work environment. In order to improve work productivity, achieve successful teamwork and understand the importance of managing people, it is necessary for managers to develop appropriate ways how to do it. Human relations management has become a concern of many companies. To increase work productivity each company must create a way how to motivate their employees, see them as individuals and not machines, and provide them with good working conditions.

Since human being is the main key factor of the organization, managers should always be encouraged to seek for new opportunities for the company growth. Human relations movement approach was started and established by Elton Mayo - a Harvard professor who is most famous for the well-known Hawthorne studies experiment at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric Company in Chicago,USA. Mayo conducted and analyzed the experiment for several years. The intention of the experiment was to investigate the relationship between work conditions and productivity by examining environmental influences at workplace.

After a while experiment moved on to the psychological aspects as well. During this research, new approaches to motivation, social relations and employee care were developed in order to increase work performance and productivity. Experiment gave an opportunity to understand human behavior in groups and their needs in work environment. The experiment had four stages- illumination studies, relay assembly test room, interviewing process and bank wiring observation room. For the first stage, there were selected workers from the Hawthorne plant. Workers were separated in groups and placed under the eye of supervisor in separate test rooms.

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The idea was to research and determine relationship between illumination in workplace and employee work efficiency, by increasing or decreasing lighting in the test rooms. The final results were confusing and everyone thought that the experiment has failed, because despite of the increase or decrease of lighting-productivity has been increased or stayed the same at all times. Researchers tried to figure out different theories, why it has happened. The general conclusion was that illumination is not the most important factor of output. After this stage change in employee’s behavior was discovered, workers felt important and knew that the work erformance will be researched. Researchers decided to call this phenomenon as Hawthorne effect. This unusual effect is still noticeable in nowadays and it has a big role in human relations management. For example, clinical research organizations- when patients are randomized for the trial, organization is subordinating patients for the Hawthorne effect. Patient health is studied for a long period of time and special attention is received from many employees. Clinical trial organizations usually choose two randomization options for patients-giving the actual trial medicine or the placebo medicine, which is not a real treatment.

In most of the cases, clinical trial measures can result either in true or false improvement, which is caused by Hawthorne effect. In clinical research industry important factor is not only scientific, but also psychological effect, because without investigating human factors, finding necessary answers would be much harder, if the theory would be based only on scientific and medical impacts. The second stage of the experiment was relay assembly test room. Again there were selected people from the Hawthorn plant and divided in groups.

This stage was conducted to investigate importance of working hours, lunch breaks, rest periods, wages etc. There were numerous questions that needed to be answered in order to understand how to manage efficient working day. That is why researchers kept changing rest periods, work weeks, wages, supervisory practices etc. This stage had the same effect as the illumination stage- no matter what change researchers introduced; productivity either increased or stayed the same. After this stage the most important conclusion was that material gains are not as important as the social processes at the workplace.

Every company must pay attention to employee well being, in order to establish positive working conditions and improve employee motivation scheme. One of the most popular motivation programs in nowadays is the “Employee of the month” title. Organizations make effort to analyze employee’s accomplishments every month. That is a simple way how to say “thank you” for the effort that has been made and motivate for even more successful results by granting workers with the special title and, in some cases, even with material bonus. The third stage at the Hawthorne plant was interview process.

Over 21,000 of employees were interviewed by the time of three years to find out the reasons for the increased productivity in previous two stages. Questionnaires were about everything what affect employees working conditions. Workers were allowed to talk about anything, but not always the answers were truthful or useful for the experiment. During the interviews Mayo thought that he had spread his research too wide and too far, because many of the answers were too vague. At the end of the interviews, researchers were surprised by the unpredictable results again.

Investigators came to revelation that employees started to reveal more of personal facts, by the time of interviewing. Rather than giving direct answers, workers chose to speak about their personal life details and issues. After this stage became clear, that each person has their own individuality and important fact for the employers is to create certain trainings and interview processes-applicable for every employee. Also it is important to create surveys for employees and clients as well, to make sure that the company is moving forward, not backwards.

For example, worldwide hotel “Premier Inn” has created survey called “Your say” (Premier Inn, 2011), which is a short questionnaire for employees and guests. By asking questions about the guest satisfactory level, “Premier Inn” can summarize information and create a plan how to avoid from biggest mistakes and also consider guest recommendations. Survey is also for employees-to make sure every single employee is satisfied and after the survey there is possibility to organize meetings and discuss negative or positive outcomes of their responsibilities.

Most of the companies use these surveys in nowadays, to strengthen and improve their business. The last stage at the bank wiring room in Chicago was conducted to study behavior of the workers in informal groups, and research the social structure and its importance at the workplace. Overall conclusion for this stage: when humans interact with each other for a long period of time, various social structures are being created. Work productivity is affected by social processes at workplace, which is why important factor in every organization is communication.

Many companies use informal meetings to strengthen employees, by creating different team building programs, so employees doesn’t feel like that is a compulsory task to attend. Overall, the main characteristics of the Hawthorne experiment theory are still noticeable in nowadays. Motivation, social relations, employee care/needs in work environment and behavior of groups are the basics of the human relations movement. Elton Mayo’s experiment was a major historical event and even though Hawthorne studies received a lot of criticism, it was a huge step in human relations management.

While Scientific Management looked at technology and processes, Mayo found that the real key to high productivity lies within the people and "work units," or groups, in the organization (Odportal 2011). Human satisfaction will always lead to productivity, which is why communication at workplace is important factor to achieve positive results. Also motivated workers are always more committed to their job-this was one of the most important characteristics in Hawthorne experiment. Without human relations theory, working conditions would be slightly different nowadays.

Every person has their own individuality and needs, why it is important for organizations to take care of employees, make their own researches and seek for different options how to keep employees interested and motivated at all times. References 1. A Fast Learner’s Guide to Leadership. The Human Relations Movement. http://www. odportal. com/leadership/fastlearner/humanrelations. html -accessed 01/11/2011 [i. p. 1] 2. Guest Recommend Survey http://www. premierinn. com/en/why/contact_us/guest-recommend-survey. html - accessed 01/11/2011 [i. p. 1]

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Human Relations Case Study. (2017, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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