Principles of the Human Relations Movement

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  • Topic: Organization, Management, Organizational studies
  • Pages : 5 (1510 words )
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  • Published : September 1, 2008
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In today’s successful organisations, the most important focus is managing individual employee satisfaction and motivation, apart from complying with formal rules and operating procedures, to maintain high qualityproductivity. Unlike the classical perspectives of management such as Scientific Management and Bureaucracy, “the importance of informal social factors in the work place such as co-worker relationships and group norms that influence employee motivation and performance is highlighted” (Macky & Johnson, 2003, p.82) under the ‘Human Relations Movement’. This essay will discuss how the Human Relations Movement has been adapted and carried out successfully in New Zealand by the restaurant chain, Starbucks Coffee. By focusing on the principles of maintaining a socialised natural group working environment and two-way communication between employees and managers, this essay will demonstrate how they became the most powerful and well-known coffee franchise restaurant in New Zealand market.

To start with, the Human Relations Movement firstly emphasises the importance of the working environment for employees as a socialised natural group in which social aspects for both employees and managers take precedence over functional organisational structures. Elton Mayo, who was called “the founder of both the Human Relations Movement and of industrial sociology” (Pugh & Hickson, 1989, P.152), had the basic idea that “workers had strong social needs which they tried to satisfy through membership of informal social groups at work place” (Nicholson, 1998, p.215). Opposing the classical perspectives of management principles of the Scientific Management and Bureaucracy, Mayo claimed that scientifically clarified rules, strict work procedure and incentive money payments were not the only stimulus to inspire workers and that they were “less factors in determining output than were group standards, sentiments and security” (Robbins, Millett & Waters-Marsh, 2004, p.815-816) after he proceeded an experiment, called the ‘Hawthorne Experiment’. According to the Hawthorne Studies, employees were motivated to work harder and efficiently when managers provided a more comfortable and informal working environment taking into account individual satisfaction and their personal needs rather than manipulating employees by way of higher remuneration. Mayo demonstrated that an organisation could not generate much beneficial output if managers “treat workers simply as economic individuals wanting to maximise pay and minimise effort” (cited Nicholson, 1998, p.215). As a result, “managers would no longer consider the issue of organisation design without including the effects on work groups and employee attitudes” (Robbins & Barnwell, 2006, p.47). They now see their jobs as dealing with human beings rather than simply with work.

One of the most well-known and influencing coffee franchise restaurants in New Zealand, Starbucks Coffee, tries its best to offer an informal and social working environment in which employees can enjoy themselves and be enthusiastic, in order to satisfy and motivate those employees at the same time increasing company sales. The company expects and encourages every employee to participate in developing plans, creating and achieving their goals. First of all, Starbucks Coffee, for example, treats every employee equally and they are all called ‘partners’. Therefore, those employees can feel more familiar and closer to their work place which could otherwise have been formal and difficult to feel part of. Also, Starbucks Coffee puts its effort into paying attention to employees, so as to satisfy their personal needs and wants. Managers schedule and allocate employees’ work hours and schedule time off with the needs of those employees being central. Additionally, employees, including part-time employees, for instance, are provided a number of benefits such as medical and dental health care coverage, vacations, discounts on merchandise,...
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