A human relation is the relationship between human resources of the organization. It incorporates management-employees, employees-employees relationship. It also consists of relationship between the organization’s human resource & outsiders (such as clients, suppliers).
Human resource is one of the important assets of an organization. Hence, healthy human relations lead to increased productivity and efficiency. It also plays crucial role in growth and success of the organization.
The approach of human relations deals with the psychological variables of organisational functioning in order to increase the efficiency of organisations. It is the process of integration of man-to-man and man-to-organisations.
According to Mac Farland “Human relations is the study and practice of utilising human resource through knowledge and through an understanding of the activities, attitudes, sentiments, and interrelationships of people at work.”
Learn about:- 1. Meaning and Definitions of Human Relations 2. Brief History of Human Relations 3. Fundamental Concepts 4. Scope 5. Importance 6. Approaches 7. Contributions 8. Limitations 9. Suggestions to Improve.
Human Relations: Meaning, History, Concept, Importance, Approach, Contributions, Limitations and Improvement
- Meaning and Definitions of Human Relations
- Brief History of Human Relations
- Fundamental Concepts of Human Relations
- Scope of Human Relations
- Importance of Human Relation
- Human Relations Approaches
- Contributions of Human Relations
- Limitations of Human Relations
- Suggestions to Improve Human Relations
Human Relations – Meaning and Definitions Propounded by W. E. G. Scott, Keith Davis and Mac Farland
In the broadest sense, the term ‘human relations’ refers to the interaction of people in all walks of life—in schools, colleges, homes, business, government and so on. But when we talk of ‘human relations in industry’, then, in a wider sense, it signifies the relationship that should exist between the human beings engaged in industry.
However, in actual practice, the term signifies the relationship that should be cultivated and practised by an employer or a supervisor with his/her subordinates.
As a matter of fact, human relations is the art of getting along with people either as individuals or as a group. Good human relations are an effective instrument to motivate the personnel towards the achievement of individual as well as organisational goals.
It is perhaps for this reason that W. E. G. Scott has remarked, ‘Human relations are a process of an effective motivation of individual in a given situation in order to achieve a balance of objectives which will yield greater human satisfaction and help accomplish company goals’.
A human relation is the relationship between human resources of the organization. It incorporates management-employees, employees-employees relationship. It also consists of relationship between the organization’s human resource & outsiders (such as clients, suppliers). Human resource is one of the important assets of an organization. Hence, healthy human relations lead to increased productivity and efficiency. It also plays crucial role in growth and success of the organization.
According to Keith Davis “Human relations deals with motivating people in organizations to develop teamwork which effectively fulfil their objectives and achieves organizational objectives.”
According to Mac Farland “Human relations is the study and practice of utilising human resource through knowledge and through an understanding of the activities, attitudes, sentiments, and interrelationships of people at work.”
Keith Davis has also observed that from the viewpoint of a manager, human relations is the integration of people into a work situation that motivates them to work together productively, cooperatively and with economic, psychological and social satisfaction. Effective human relations depend on fulfilment of economic, social and psychological wants.
In literal terms, ‘human relations in industry’ is a term generally used for organisational behaviour. From the point of view of management, human relations is motivating people in organisations to develop teamwork spirit in order to fulfil their needs and to achieve organisational goals efficiently and economically.
The approach of human relations deals with the psychological variables of organisational functioning in order to increase the efficiency of organisations. It is the process of integration of man-to-man and man-to-organisations. Although land, labour, capital and enterprise are fundamental factors of production, without the willingness and cooperation of subordinates, it is not possible for management to produce anything.
The management can obtain their cooperation through the human relations approach. To follow the human relations approach in an organisation is a major form of motivation. Modern managers realise this fact very well that a business organisation is a complex form of human relations and certain social variables. It studies those positive aspects which invoke positive response in work behaviour.
Human Relations – History: Illumination Experiments, Hawthorne Effect, Interviewing Programme, Bank Wiring Room Experiment
In the 1920s and 1930s, observers of business management began to feel the incompleteness and short-sightedness in the scientific as well as administrative management movements. The scientific management movement analysed the activities of workers whereas administrative management writers focused attention on the activities of managers.
The importance of the man behind the machine, the importance of individual as well as group relationships in the workplace was never recognised. The social aspects of a worker’s job were totally ignored; the emphasis was clearly on discipline and control rather than morale. The human relations theory (also called neo-classical theory) tried to compensate for the deficiencies in classical theory (scientific management and administrative management) modifying it with insights from behavioural sciences like psychology, sociology and anthropology.
This theory gained popularity after the famous studies of human behaviour in work situations conducted at the Western Electric Company from 1924 to 1933. These studies eventually became known as the ‘Hawthorne Studies’ because many of them were conducted at Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant near Chicago.
1. Illumination Experiments:
The Hawthorne researchers began with illumination experiments with various groups of workers. This experiment involved prolonged observation of two groups of employees making telephone relays. The purpose was to determine the effects of different levels of illumination on workers’ productivity. The intensity of light under which one group was systematically varied (test group) while the light was held constant (control group) for the second group.
The productivity of the test group increased each time the intensity of the light increased. However, productivity also increased in the control group which received no added light. The researchers felt that something besides lighting was influencing the workers’ performance.
In a new set of experiments, a small group of workers were placed in a separate room and a number of things were changed; wages were increased rest periods of varying length were introduced; the workday and workweek were shortened.
The researchers, who now acted as friendly supervisors, allowed the group to choose their own rest periods and to have a say in other suggested changes. Workers in the test room were offered financial incentives for increased production. Over the two-year period, output went up in both the test and control rooms (surprisingly, since the control group was kept on the same payment schedule) steadily regardless of changes in working conditions. Why?
2. Hawthorne Effect:
Part of the answer may be attributed to what has come to be called the ‘Hawthorne Effect’. The workers knew they were part of an experiment. They were being given special attention and treatment because of the experiment. They were consulted about work changes and were not subject to the usual restrictions imposed from above. The result of this special attention and recognition caused them to carry a stimulating feeling of group pride and belongingness.
Also the sympathetic supervision received by the members might have brought about improved attitudes toward their jobs and job performance. At this stage, the researchers were interested in finding out clear answers to the question – Why the attitudes of the employees had become better after participation in the test room?
3. Interviewing Programme:
Mayo initiated a three-year long interview programme in 1928 covering more than 21,000 employees to find out the reasons for increased productivity. Employees were allowed to talk freely (non-directive interviewing) and air their opinions in a friendly atmosphere. The point demonstrated by this interviewing programme is central to the human relations movement.
If people are permitted to talk about things that are important to them, they may come up with issues that are at first sight unconnected with their work.
These issues may be, how their children are doing at school, how the family is going to meet the ration expenses, what their friends think of their jobs, and so on. Taking about such matters to a sympathetic listener who does not interpret is therapeutic. When researchers began to examine the complaints made by the employee, they found most of complaints to be baseless.
Many times nothing was done about the complaint, yet, after an interview the complaint was not made once again.
It became apparent that often workers really did not want changes made; they mainly wanted to talk to an understanding person who did not criticise or advise about their troubles. Thus, for the first time, the importance of informal work groups is recognised. To find out more about how the informal groups operated, the bank wiring room experiment was set up.
4. Bank Wiring Room Experiment:
In this experiment, 14 male workers were formed into a small work group and intensively observed for seven months in the bank wiring room. The men were engaged in the assembly of terminal banks for the use in telephone exchanges. The employees in the group were paid in the regular way depending on the efficiency rating plus a bonus based on average group effort.
Thus, under this system, an individual’s pay was affected by the output of the entire group and by his own individual output.
It was expected that highly efficient workers would bring pressure to bear on less efficient workers in an attempt to increase output and thus take advantage of the group incentive plan. However, these expected results did not come about. The researchers found that the group had established its own standard of output and this was enforced by various methods of social pressure. Output was not only being restricted but individual workers were giving erroneous reports.
The group was operating well below its capability and was levelling output in order to protect itself. Thus, work group norms, beliefs; sentiments had a greater impact in influencing individual behaviour than did the economic incentives offered by management.
Pros and Cons of Hawthorne Experiments:
i. Man is not motivated by money alone; to motivate people, a healthy social climate is necessary.
ii. If treated well, human beings can expand their energies and show good results.
iii. Groups have more influence on workers than organisation rules.
iv. Friendly supervision ensures good results, better morale and healthy interpersonal relations.
i. Mayo overstressed experimentation and drew conclusions on the strength of observations about a small sample of employees.
ii. The experiments lacked a scientific basis. The choice of work, the employees, the work environment, etc. was not scientific.
iii. The conclusions of Hawthorne experiments were open to doubt as the sample was not sufficiently representative.
iv. Mayo exhibited pro-management bias by thinking that management knows what is best for workers (who are mostly driven by emotions, sentiments, etc.).
Human Relations – Fundamental Concepts Relating to Nature of Man and Nature of Organisations
The concept of human relations is a noteworthy social approach towards the establishment of interpersonal relationship between superiors and subordinates. As management is a social science and like every social science, the approach of human relations requires certain fundamental concepts revolving around the nature of man and the nature of organisations which are imperative to be understood. In brief, they are as follows.
As regards the nature of man, there are four basic assumptions which are as follows:
In business organisations, the work is done by the workers. According to the need theory, both normal human behaviour and his/her course of future action are caused by a person’s need structure. So, management can influence the behaviour of individuals in the organisation by influencing their needs. The management can create suitable environment in the organisation conductive to the fulfilment of individual needs within the overall structure.
2. Individual Differences:
People have much in common, but they also differ in many respects- psychology tells us that each person has his/her own world. So, management can get the subordinates motivated by treating them individually and differently.
Only one measure of motivation cannot motivate all. Some are motivated by money, some others by status and so on. Hence, an overall plan needs to deal with the subordinates individually. It is according to the saying that ‘the whole philosophy of human relations begins with man and ends on man’.
3. A Whole Person:
Some managers think that they have employed a person just for his/her labour, skill or brain. So, they are concerned with his/her labour and work only. They have nothing to do with his/her personality, personal life, knowledge and other things. But this thinking is one-sided.
Although a person’s different traits may be separately studied, in final analysis, they all are an integral part of one system making up a whole person. His/her skill does not exist separately from his/her background knowledge. His/her work life depends upon his/her home life.
His/her emotional conditions are based on his/her physical life and environment conditions. The functional idea should always be kept in mind by a manager that the whole person is to be dealt with, not a part of his/her personality.
4. Human Dignity:
Treating the subordinates as respectable human beings, appreciation of their skills and recognition of their personality are the basics of human relations. The commodity approach or a factor of production approach is not at all good for dealing with subordinates.
As a matter of fact, it is a normal policy that confirms that subordinates are to be treated differently from other factors of production, because they are human beings. They require and deserve human respect and dignity.
1. Organisation as a Social System:
Industrial organisations are social systems. Each organisation is a social group having a number of small groups. As people have needs, these organisations also have their needs, status and role. People working in organisations have relations of two types – formal and informal. An organisation should serve both the relationships.
2. Mutual Interests:
Organisation theory tells us about the mutuality of interest between individuals and organisation. Organisations are formed and maintained on the basis of some mutuality of interest among their participants. If this mutuality is lacking, no organisation can run for long.
So, the management should try to coordinate the common goals and individual motives in a nice manner because a member would like to continue within the organisation as long as he/she feels that his/her interests are being served by attaching to the organisation.
Human Relations – Scope of Human Relations Stated by Jack Halloran
Jack Halloran has stated the scope of human relations in the following manner:
1. Every person brings a unique set of talents, ambitions and work experience to a job. These personal attributes change over time, often as a result of the degree of success or failure the person experiences in the work world. Matching so many unique sets of personal qualities to a standardized technology can create problems.
2. The organizational aspects of a company, such as its size, geographic location, economic health, and degree of automation. These frequently arbitrary structural definitions often cause difficulties in human relations.
3. Innovation in technology and production methods generally require the restructuring of job roles and responsibilities. Radical change in basic organization structure can cause severe strains between workers and management and create intense problems in human relations.
4. Promotion of individuals to positions of greater responsibility and authority generally creates a need for changed behaviour patterns between the new supervisors and their former peers which, in time can create human relation problems.
5. An experienced worker may not be able to perform their roles or tasks in work groups in a competent manner. The time they take to adjust cannot only create problems. With production schedules, but can also create particular kinds of human relations problems between them and their co-workers and supervisors.
No one single approach can create conditions for good human relations. Therefore, different kinds of programmes would be necessary for dealing with different sets of problems.
Human Relation – Importance: Performance and Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Decreases Employee’s Turnover, Reduction in Disputes, Innovation and a Few Others
The importance of human relations is as follows:
An employee’s performance and productivity partly depends upon the quality of relation that he has with management and co-workers. When the management takes interest in well-being of employees, it is reflected in the employee’s performance. Good human relation practices such as understanding needs and expectations of employees, providing comfortable work conditions, resolving conflicts between management as well as co-workers creates satisfied and motivated employees. It results in improvement in their overall productivity & performance.
An employee that has good relations with his team members and superiors tends to perform better than employee who has strained relationship with co-workers or seniors. Free flow of communication, unity and understanding between employees increases their job satisfaction level and morale. Job satisfaction ultimately results in higher productivity and performance.
Organization that takes interest in well-being and growth of employees helps in reducing employee turnover and absenteeism. Provision of comfortable work conditions, fair opportunities of growth, welfare facilities and assistance in career advancement of employees helps to create motivated and satisfied workforce.
Healthy relation between human resources is essential for smooth functioning of the organization. Misunderstanding or mistrust between them adversely affects the productivity of organization. Human relation practices help to reduce conflicts in the organization between superiors and subordinates, between two departments and so on. Managers who adopt human relations approach are proactive in taking actions to defuse conflicts even before they emerge.
Good relations at work place facilitate exchange of ideas and information. It enables employees to consider ideas and opinions of other employees with open mind. Such type of work environment motivates employees to come up with creative ideas, such as new designs / processes and so on. This in turn helps the organization to face market competition effectively.
Development of informal relationships between human resources of the organization reduces stress and work pressure on employees. Employees can freely approach their superiors for any work related problems. It also enables the manager to get the work done effectively.
Healthy relations with co-workers & superiors at workplace boost morale of employees. They are encouraged to actively participate in group discussions and decision making process. This helps in improving performance and productivity of employees.
Study of human relations help the organization to better understand attitudes, concerns, needs and expectations of employees. It helps in properly integrating personal, departmental and organization goals.
Healthy relation between management and employees facilitates growth of the organization. In order to build such relation, management has to understand the needs, problems & expectations of employees and try to find out solution for the same. The organizational assistance to achieve their personal goals, fair opportunities for growth motivates employees to give their best to the organization. As a result, they try to find ways in which various resources can be optimally used.
Healthy relations between the human resources enable the organization to improve corporate image in the market, to reduce wastage, to develop team spirit, to achieve long-term growth & development and so on.
Human Relations – Keith Davis Approach and its Main Features
Keith Davis has defined human relations approach as follows – ‘Human relations as an area of management practice is the integration of people into a work situation in a way that motivates them to work together productively, cooperatively and with economic, psychological and social satisfaction.’
Thus, Keith Davis views the human relations approach as humane treatment towards employees in the organisation. The problem of human relations is a moral and social problem, and its main object is to make ‘man-to-man’ and ‘man-to-group’ relations satisfactory. It is a process of integration between the organisational goals and individual motives.
The following are the main features of this approach:
1. Social Factors in Organisation:
An organisation is basically influenced by social factors. Elton Mayo has described an organisation as a social system of cliques, informal status system, rituals, and a mixture of loyal, non-logical and illogical behaviour. Thus, an organisation is more than a formal structure, and people are socio-psychological beings. These characteristics determine the output and efficiency in the organisation.
In the organisations, individuals tend to create groups. The group determines their norms of behaviour. Thus, management cannot deal with workers as individuals but as members of work groups, subject to the influence of these groups.
3. Integrating Process:
The process of human relations demands from the management a practice in leadership and communication in order to avoid conflicts among the group and individuals. Its main focus is on motivation. It involves the creation of a healthy and cooperative environment in the organisation. Democratic style of leadership is the best style which ensures cooperation and active support of subordinates.
The human relations approach is a socio-psychological human behavioural approach. It concentrates on the study of human needs and the social and psychological aspects of the work. The approach emphasises upon the fact that a person is diversely motivated, and psychological factors play a more important role in his/her motivation.
The other approaches to human relations are as follows:
a. Rewards, soft or weak approach – This approach is based on the assumption that the personnel in an undertaking are motivated to work to the extent to which they are rewarded. Reward and good working conditions play an effective role in making a worker work better and harder.
b. Fear and punishment or hard approach – This approach is based on Theory X. It is the use of force, threat, fear and tight control that makes a worker work. But this approach is no more relevant in the modern context when trade unions have become a potential force.
c. Carrot and stick approach – This approach is based on the assumption that people may be motivated to put in their best efforts either by rewarding or withholding rewards. The rewards are related to effective performance.
d. Path-goal approach – This approach is based on the assumption that people work harder when they perceive that harder work is a path towards the goal they seek for.
Thus, the essential feature of the human relations approach is the interaction of management people and subordinates. It is an optimum relationship between productivity of organisation and human satisfaction.
It is a problem of developing good relations in industry, to motivate subordinates and getting their willing cooperation for work. It is concerned with the problem of developing people and not techniques or skills. It tells the management ‘how to deal with people’ and to make them favourably responsive.
A. Contributions of Hawthorne Experiments:
Hawthorne experiments are an important landmark in the history of the human relations movement. The first intensive study of human behaviour in an industrial situation was made at the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company, Chicago, by Elton Mayo and his associates.
Professor Elton Mayo is generally recognised as the father of the human relations approach. He conducted these experiments from November 1924 with a group of psychologists and sociologists.
They conducted a series of experimental studies there between 1924 and 1932.
The perspective of Taylor and his lieutenants had its roots in the logic of engineering but in the Hawthorne experiments, there was applied a socio-psychological technique to managerial problems which gave impetus to development of a theory of human behaviour in organisations.
The series of experiments may be classified into three parts:
1. Illumination experiments (1924-27)
2. Relay assembly test room experiments (1927-32)
3. Bank wiring observation room experiment (1931-32).
In most of the experiments, the researchers proceeded on the hypotheses of scientific management. A relationship of physical and social factors with the level of output was examined. The illumination studies were conducted with the usual controls of scientific experimentation.
The original assumption was that there was a correlation between the intensity of illumination and worker output. Researchers found the difference in quantity and quality of production due to the change in physical conditions. Then they experimented with rest periods, shorter working days and wage incentives. They also tested the influence of fatigue and monotony on output.
The findings were very confusing because in most of the cases, when original conditions were restored, still the output showed an increasing trend. Then they made a study of the psychological factors also that seemed to exert a greater influence on output than the changes in rest periods, wages, hours of work and the like.
The Hawthorne studies provided evidence that an organisation is not merely a formal arrangement of people and functions. More than that, it is a social system which can be operated successfully only with the application of the principles of psychology and other behavioural sciences.
The researchers came to the conclusion that a factory is a social organisation. The non-financial incentives have much influence on their productivity and willingness to work in comparison to financial incentives. Subordinates cannot be compelled to cooperate. They can be better motivated through the human relations techniques.
The main contributions of Hawthorne experiments may be generalised as follows:
1. Social Factors:
These experiments proved that social factors play a more prominent part in determining the level of output. A business organisation is basically a social group. Elton Mayo has described an organisation as ‘a social system, a system of rituals and a mixture of logical, non-logical and illogical behaviour’. People are socio-psychological beings.
These characteristics determine the output and efficiency in the organisation. Financial incentives have a limited role in motivating the people. Non-financial incentives affect significantly the behaviour of workers and their productivity.
In the organisations, individuals tend to create groups. Workers often tend to react as members of groups and not as individuals. The group determines their norms of behaviour.
If a person resists a particular norm of group behaviour, he/she tries to change the group norm because any deviation from the group norm will make him/her unacceptable to the group. Thus, the management cannot deal with workers as individuals but as members of work groups, subject to the influence of these groups.
Leadership is important for directing group behaviour. Leadership cannot come from superiors only as held by the scientific management approach. There may be informal leadership as is clear from bank wiring experiments. In some cases, an informal leader is more important than formal one as in the experiments, the supervisor could not exert pressure on the work group about the production norms because he/she was under considerable pressure to accept the group norm of which he/she was the in charge.
However, a supervisor is more acceptable as a leader if his/her style is in accordance with the human relations approach. In this context, the democratic style is the best which provides greater satisfaction to workers.
The Hawthorne experiments show that communication in the organisation is very important. Through communication, workers can be explained why a particular course of action is being taken; participation of workers can be sought in the decision-making process related to the matters of concern to workers.
The conflict is generated in the organisation because of the creation of groups with conflicting objectives. Thus, groups may be in conflict with organisation, though the creation of groups sometimes helps to achieve organisational objectives. Similarly, a conflict may arise because of maladjustment of individual and organisation. Thus, a conflict arises the problem of adjustment of individual to the organisation.
The supervisory climate also has an important role to play in determining the rate of output. The friendly to the worker, attentive and genuinely concerned supervision affects the productivity favourably.
For example, in the bank wiring room, an entirely different supervisory climate existed—friendlier to the workers and less use of authority in issuing orders—which helped in productivity, while in regular departments, supervisors were used to maintain order and control, and this type of supervisory arrangement produced inhibiting atmosphere.
The Hawthorne experiments opened a new frontier to the study of management which has been followed by many behavioural scientists later on. About the Hawthorne experiments, Henry Landsberger had observed that a most spectacular academic battle has raged since then, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that a limited number of gunners has kept up a steady barrage, reusing the same ammunition.
The beleaguered Mayo garrison, however, has continued its existence behind the solid protection of factory walls. Besides the Hawthorne experiments, other contributions to human relations have come from Bakke and Argyris—fusion process and integrating individuals and organisation; McGregor— human side of enterprise; March and Simon—problems of organisation; Likert—management system, theory of motivation; Humans—human group; and so on.
However, a few people still cling to the idea that human relations is a fad and have interpreted this demise of the age of human relations as the death knell of the whole subject; that is, the ‘happiness boys’ are on the way out. However, the fact remains that human relations is not almost finished; it has just started and its future is highly promising.
B. Some Classic Contributions of Human Relations:
The human relations’ movement has made and is still making a number of contributions to our understanding of the behaviour that goes on in organizations and organizational complexities. The practitioners are turning to human relations’ researchers for answers to their complex organizational problems. Lippitt lists the influence of non-economic factors, motivation, and leadership.
Communication, change processes, group dynamics, personality studies, individual behaviour, inter-group relationships, social system approach to organizations, decision-making process, and self-development processes are some of the major areas of contributions under the human relations or behavioural science movement.
William Foot Whyte studied work flow and group behaviour in the restaurant industry. His study shed some light on work flow, sources of conflict, status hierarchy, and communication patterns. In another study Whyte analysed the background of those who conform to the norms of the group and those who do not conform. Those who conform to the norms belonged to various social groups, tended to be extravagant, strived to fulfil social and security needs, and had urban family backgrounds. Those who do not conform to the group norms were mostly loners and belonged to rural backgrounds.
Bales interaction analysis is another significant contribution. Two major leadership functions were identified, each being positive and negative.
i. Human Relations Positive (Ex. shows solidarity)
ii. Task-oriented Positive (Ex. gives suggestions)
iii. Task-oriented Negative (Ex. asks for opinion evaluation)
iv. Human Relations Negative (Ex. disagrees)
Kurt Lewins field theory, a model showing the relationship between individual behaviour and the environment. Bakke views the organization as a Fusion Process. The fusion he talks about is between the individuals and the organizations, each trying to achieve their own goals in this process. Maslow suggests hierarchy of Human Needs. These needs include physiological, security, social, self-esteem, and self-realization or actualization.
McGregor’s two sets of assumptions are labelled as Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X includes assumptions which are more traditional and theory Y includes assumptions which are modern.
Human Relations – 5 Major Limitations: Philosophy, Scientific Validity, Short-Sighted, Over Concern with Happiness and Anti-Individualist
Limitation # i. Philosophy:
Several economists claimed that by encouraging workers to develop loyalties to anything but their own self-interests, and by preaching collaboration instead of competition, human relations would ultimately lead to reduced efficiency. No wonder, trade unions ridiculed it as a form of ‘cow psychology’, which transformed factories into unthinking places of comfort. Interest in human relations is equated with tender-mindedness, sentimentality and unrealistic desire to make everyone happy.
Critics also charged that the human relations movement, built as it is on a philosophy of worker-management harmony, is not only antithetical to a viable capitalistic system but impractical as well.
Limitation # ii. Scientific Validity:
The research carried out by Mayo and his associates had many weaknesses of design, analysis, and interpretation. Whether the researchers’ conclusions are consistent with their data is still the subject of lively debate and considerable confusion. With respect to the relay assembly test room studies, for example, Alex Carey pointed out that there was no attempt to establish sample groups ‘representative of any larger population than the groups themselves, and that no generalisation is therefore legitimate’.
Limitation # iii. Short-Sighted:
The very fact that the human relations research is concerned with operative employees bears ample testimony to the short-sightedness of the research findings. Further, the approach lacks adequate focus on work. It tends to over emphasise the psychological aspects at the cost of structural and technical aspects. It tends to neglect the economic dimensions of work satisfaction.
But as we all know, economic motivation is exceedingly strong and quite often economic explanations are appropriate for understanding human behaviour. It is small wonder; it is labelled as a short-sighted ventilation therapy.
Limitation # iv. Over Concern with Happiness:
The Hawthorne studies suggested that happy employees will be productive employees. This, of course is a native and simplistic version of the nature of man. Studies have failed to show a consistent relationship between happiness and productivity. It is quite possible to have a lot of happy but unproductive employees.
Limitation # v. Anti-Individualist:
The human relations movement is anti-individualist. Here, the discipline of the boss is simply replaced by the discipline of the group forcing the individual to sacrifice his personal identity and dignity. The individual may not find his truce self and gain a stimulating feeling of personal freedom by completely losing himself in a group. Further, there is no guarantee that groups will always be instrumental in distributing satisfaction to members.
Criticisms like these are not without merit, and it is probably true that the Hawthorne researchers and their critics overstated their case. Yet, it would be a mistake to disregard the Hawthorne findings as worthless scientifically. By stressing social needs, the human relationist improved on the classical theory, which treated productivity almost exclusively as an engineering problem. They introduced the idea of the organisation as an open system in which the technical and human elements are closely intertwined.
They emphasised the importance of employee attitudes in an era when wage incentives and physical work conditions were often viewed as the only requirements for high productivity. They spotlighted the importance of a manager’s style and thereby revolutionised management training. More and more attention was focused on teaching people management skills as opposed to technical skills. Their work led to a new interest in the dynamics of groups.
Managers began thinking in terms of group processes and group rewards to supplement their former concentration on the individual worker. Much of the aforesaid criticisms can be effectively countered by emphasising the fact that man is a social being. Human relations philosophy as such is not the culprit. A humanistic approach to organisational problems does not imply total negation of performance requirements of workplace. It is the use and practice to which it is put that account for most of its serious limitations.
From a practical point of view, it really is of little importance whether the studies were academically sound or their conclusions justified. What is more important is that they were significant in stimulating an interest in human factors. As lvancevich et al., pointed out, “If it did nothing else, it stimulated an interest in the human problems on management and thereby provided the necessary impetus for the present-day behavioural sciences emphasis in management theory.”
Human Relations – Top 27 Suggestions to Improve Human Relations and its Policy
The resolution adopted at the 4th Session of Metal Trades Committee of the ILO highlights certain factors that go to make up a human relations policy. Some other writers have also pointed out a few suggestion which can lead to improvement in human relations.
Some of such suggestions are as follows:
1. A sound organisational structure clearly specifying –
a. Duties, functions and responsibilities,
b. Authority and
Of every one engaged in the organisation so that everybody in the organisation knows who is who, who is to do what and where, what is the relationship between two individuals and so on. For this, there should be an organisational chart.
2. Adequate conditions of employment such as –
a. Fair wages and
b. Good working conditions.
3. Suitable policies for –
a. Scientific and methodical recruitment and selection,
b. Placement and
4. Education, training and development programmes for all.
5. Real and equal opportunities for advancement to all.
6. Promotion from within as far as possible.
7. Suitable policy for job termination.
8. Respect for the personality of workers—treating the subordinates as respectable human beings, appreciating their emotions and sentiments, and recognising their personality. The commodity approach or a factor of production approach has become outdated. It is now a well-accepted fact that subordinates deserve human respect, and their dignity should be maintained by the management.
9. Personal knowledge about the subordinates.
10. Fairness, impartiality and frankness in the management’s approach.
11. Frankness in dealing.
12. Direction without commanding.
13. Keeping promise.
14. Understanding other’s point of view.
15. Equal weightage for both workers and employers.
16. Employers must have a reputation for complete honesty, intelligence, flexibility and consistency of purpose.
17. Adequate provision for incentives and fringe benefits.
18. Positive approach towards collective bargaining, WPM, profit-sharing and labour co-partnership.
19. Development of personal and social forces – The Hawthorne experiments have proved that socio-psychological variables play a more prominent role in increasing efficiency and motivating the employees. The management should try to create a friendly atmosphere, exercise democratic style of supervision and emphasise the need of goal congruence.
20. Due recognition to groups and informal relations – In the organisations, individuals tend to create groups. Often workers tend to react as members of groups and not as individuals. The group determines their norms of behaviour.
The management cannot deal with workers as individuals but as members of work groups, subject to the influence of these groups. Hence, the management must give due recognition to the group, norms and informal organisation structure existing within the organisation in order to maintain good human relations.
21. Communication – The Hawthorne experiments have proved that communication in the organisation is very important. Through communication, workers can be explained why a particular course of action is being taken. Participation of workers can be sought in the decision-making process concerning the matters of their importance and problems faced by them.
22. Personnel counselling – The management can establish a system of personnel counselling in the organisation. The workers should be provided timely guidance in their personal matters and difficulties. An expert can be appointed in the HR department for this purpose. This will also help in maintaining good human relations.
23. Supervision – The supervisory climate also has an important role to play in determining and improving human relations. Friendly, attentive and genuinely concerned supervisors affect the human relations favourably. The management should always keep in mind that team work is essential for cooperation and sound organisational functioning.
24. Introducing suggestion scheme – The suggestion from the workers can be invited relating to various problems such as production process, difficulties in production and facilities. This practice will involve them in the decision-making process and develop their interest and creativity. Good suggestions should also be remunerated financially, and they should be implemented too.
25. Mutual faith between management and workers.
26. Positive role by trade unions.
27. Suitable state policy towards labour.
Thus, we find that a large number of factors go to make up a human relations policy. The human relations approach is a complex and typical object. It is a philosophy which requires a complete change in the attitude of the management towards the workers. The managerial personnel cannot be trained in the human relations approach through any scientific training programme.
What is required is the continuous practice of this philosophy. Although the human relations approach has been criticised by many experts on various grounds, even then it is a challenge for the modern management. Subordinates cannot be forced into cooperation. Strategy for some, psychology for others and understanding for a few have to be substituted for force in human relations.