The Role of the Human Relations Movement in Changing Management

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Human Relations Movement: How It Changed Management

Management is not something that comes automatically to everyone. It is a very precise business procedure and is dictated by company policy, business theory, and other such factors. Therefore, you need to be updated about the best management theories. This will help you incorporate the best methods in your management, and get the most out of your employees. You need to work these methods into your management standards and your talent acquisition strategies.

There are numerous theories in the business world. The Human Relations Movement is one of these and is changing how businesses think of employee management. It differs from the standard Human Resources practices and incorporates some new ideas into the mix. This movement is aimed at improving employee satisfaction and productivity, leading to more revenue for you. Here is a basic breakdown of what this movement is, and how it is helpful for you.

What Is the Human Relations Movement?

The Human Relations Movement dates back to the Hawthorne studies. That was done between 1924 and 1932. Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger wanted to see how certain physical conditions such as lighting impacted worker productivity. However, they came to the unexpected conclusion that worker productivity is affected by whether they feel they are being observed.

Simply put, employees work better when there is a relationship between them and management. If they get positive feedback from management, then their motivation goes up. This is known as the Hawthorne Effect.

In addition, workers’ motivation also rose when they felt they were part of a group or had a specific role in the group. In these cases, employees are aligned with their cohort’s goals and feel that their work is valuable for these common goals.

How is it Different from Human Resources?

The main difference between Human Relations and Human Resources is how these theories view employees. Human Relations considers the personal and relationship factor, while Human Resources simply see employees as resources.

Human Relations takes personal wants and needs into account. It also focuses on employee satisfaction and happiness. This theory talks about the human connection between managers and employees. Therefore, it is a more employee-focused approach, with the aim to maximize employee satisfaction and motivation.

On the other hand, Human Resources is more focused on the business’s overall goals. It doesn’t really take the human element in consideration and simply considers employees as cogs in the machine. In addition, it focuses on minimizing company risk. This goal may sometimes be in contradiction with employee happiness, so Human Resources and Human Relations may sometimes be at odds with each other.

What Were its Results?

When Human Relations became more commonplace in business management, then there was a notable shift in employee motivation. It contributed greatly to the employee management styles of today. You’ll see that numerous companies have practices like town hall meetings and forums to discuss employee issues. They also offer facilities like recreational areas for employees to improve morale.

These companies don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. Such practices are good for their end goal. If employees are motivated, they are productive and contribute to the company’s goals in a positive manner.

What are Theory X & Theory Y?

A few decades after the Human Relations Movement first emerged Theory X and Theory Y was created by Professor Douglas McGregor.  He created these theories to show two opposing perceptions related to employee motivation. Here are a few basics you should go through.

Theory X

McGregor identified common practices which have a negative outlook on workers. He identified these as Theory X. These practices include:

  • Managers focus on the economic ends.
  • Management controls workers, changes their behavior, and directs their actions.
  • Management is expected to punish, persuade, and control workers to counter resistance and passivity.

Theory Y

On the other hand, Theory Y has a positive outlook on employees and helps them be more productive and satisfied parts of the organization. Its practices include:

  • Management organizes business components for economic interests.
  • Managers instill motivation, development potential, and responsibility in employees in an organic, coordinated manner.
  • Managers focus on creating an environment where employees help meet company goals, and also achieve their own development goals.
  • Passiveness or resistance is not punished but is addressed in a mutually satisfactory manner, within reason.

How does Human Relations Management Affect Performance?

When Human Relations became the primary way to handle employees, then there was a marked change in performance and productivity. Employees were more engaged with company goals, and were also able to meet their own personal and career goals. Here are a few ways in which this shift helped improve productivity and employee satisfaction.

  • Employees treat work as a natural state and exercise their skills more efficiently.
  • Employees feel more involved in the overall business and are more motivated to perform better.
  • Employees feel empowered and independent, and make decisions that ultimately benefit the business.
  • When companies invest in employee skill development, employees feel valued and perform accordingly.
  • When employees are rewarded and appreciated for their good work, they are more likely to perform at their best.

In conclusion, the Human Relations Movement had a positive impact on how businesses think abut employee productivity. New developments in this theory add to this productivity and lead to healthier workplaces.