The shift in focus from “the work” to “the worker” began in the 1920s. TheBehavioral School of Management Theory sought to understand the human dimensions of work as a way to improve productivity and reduce worker turnover. One of the most famous experiments in business history, the Hawthorne Experiments, attempted to determine the effect of the human factor on the bottom line. The design was simple: The workers were moved to an isolated location of the plant and placed into two groups. One groupworked under a lighting level that was constant. The other group’s lighting level was changed to try to determine the best level of illumination to increase productivity.
The researchers were shocked to discover no relationship between the light intensity and productivity. No matter how the illumination changed in the working environment, productivity increased. After interviewing the workers, they concluded that increasedproductivity was attributable to the following factors:
*The test room was more enjoyable to work in than the regular factory.
*The relationship between theworkers and theirsupervisor was more relaxed during the experiment.
*The workers realized that they were part of an important experiment,and sobehaved differently because they were being observed.
*The workers developed a feeling of camaraderie from participating together in the experiment.
Taken together, these factors led to one conclusion: How workers feel about theirwork and theirsubjective belief about how management values them changes their productivity. The message for managers was that there is more to managing than analyzing production and bossing people around. People skills count!
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