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The Hawthorne Effect: Money or care, which one do employees value more?

  At work, if the company pays you enough, but the working environment is very bad and the relationship between colleagues is also very poor, would you choose this company?
  Paying more attention can help improve efficiency
  Now , think about these two issues in a more macro perspective. The first question, if you were an employee, under what circumstances would you be more willing to work hard? The second question, if you were a manager, what method would you use to improve the performance of your employees?
  The second question is a topic of concern to the management of almost all companies. In 1920, in order to improve the productivity of employees, the American Western Electric Power Company commissioned Professor George Elton Mayo of Harvard University to conduct research at the Hawthorne Plant. The Mayo team looked at many possible factors, including various external factors such as changes in lighting, the interval between breaks, and the length of work hours.
  In the end, it seemed that no matter what adjustments were made, employee productivity would increase. When the light is brighter, the efficiency is improved; when the light is darker, the efficiency will still be improved.
  Later, in the 1950s, based on the re-analysis of the experimental data, another scientist proposed that, in fact, what really worked was that during the experiment, the employees felt that they were being observed and received attention, so the efficiency would be improved. .
  This finding became known as the “Hawthorne effect”: when people realize they are being observed, they tend to change their behavior.
  However, the author believes that the Hawthorne effect is suspected of being exaggerated and misunderstood. Why do I say so? There are two reasons: first, the age of this experiment is very early, and its experimental design and data are suspected of being exaggerated; second, the conclusion of the Hawthorne effect only highlights what Professor Mayo did at the Hawthorne factory. One of them was called the “Lighting Experiment”, and the rest of the subsequent series of experiments were ignored.
  People are “social people”, not “economic people”
  In the widely circulated version of the “lighting experiment”, there is no mention of the fact that there were only 5 workers who actually participated in the experimental process. If we really want to do an experiment on the impact of such a working environment on employee behavior, the sample size of 5 subjects is really too small. Meanwhile, the experiments are carried out in the laboratory. Lab rooms are small, quiet, and have better ventilation, while real factories are very large workshops that are noisy and have poor ventilation. The researchers’ intervention made management friendlier and more polite to workers. In addition, the atmosphere of the laboratory is much better than that of the workshop, and workers have more opportunities to communicate with each other.
  Therefore, from these details, we can find that the original experiment at that time did not have a rigorous experimental control method at all. Not only that, but later scientists re-analyzed the first-hand experimental data and found that there was no statistically significant difference. Insignificant means that the difference in experimental results may be caused by random factors rather than experimental control, and the resulting explanation may be meaningless.
  After analyzing the “insider” of the first “lighting experiment”, let’s take a look at the overlooked part of the experiment. Professor Mayo’s research at the Hawthorne factory lasted for several years. In fact, he also tried many other aspects.
  In an experiment to study the effect of incentives on job performance, they found, surprisingly, that workers were less productive when incentives were in place.
  The experiment went like this: 14 male workers participated in the experiment, and their job content was to deal with telephone switching equipment. Then, some workers began to wonder: if their efficiency really improved, after the experiment ended, would the boss find an excuse to fire other workers? They’ll think: Management must feel that since we can get the job done more efficiently, they don’t need to hire so many people. Based on such speculation, they deliberately maintained their work efficiency unchanged, and even had some cases of sabotage, and their work efficiency decreased.
  It was in the social background of the Great Depression at that time, and this background also had an impact on Professor Mayo’s experiment. But he didn’t notice this at the time, and found another interesting result – informal organization within employees, and they place a high value on interpersonal care.
  Looking at it now, everyone will think, this is not common sense? When looking for a job, in addition to paying attention to salary, everyone will pay more or less attention to the company atmosphere, benefits and other conditions. And the reason why we say this discovery is remarkable is that it indirectly promoted the rise of industrial and organizational management psychology research, and even made it a comprehensive applied discipline, and gradually changed people’s ideas.
  So, when we combine the Hawthorne factory experiment with Professor Mayo’s series of studies, we can get some additional insights beyond the effects of lighting or other stimuli on employee performance.
  The first point is that people are “social people”, not “economic people”. In a work environment, everyone will have psychological needs and interpersonal needs. Humans cannot just work like machines without any external incentives. Monetary incentives are very important, but they can’t be motivated by money alone.
  The second point is that there are informal organizations in the enterprise. This kind of small group formed spontaneously among employees has meaning and value that cannot be ignored. It may affect our sense of identity with the company and our feelings about work pressure and motivation.
  Third, management should develop a new type of leadership, with a focus on the ability to improve employee satisfaction. Only in this way can the “morale” or “combat effectiveness” of employees be improved at work. For example, respect employees and meet their needs to vent their work pressure and negative emotions at work, and so on.
  How to improve employee motivation and efficiency?
  First, flatten management and increase benefits. Flat management has been proven effective for a long time, and it is now becoming a trend. At the same time, many recruitment advertisements and company introductions will also add that the boss is very friendly, do not clock in at work, free afternoon tea, birthday parties, regular travel, etc., as one of the advantages of the company to increase the attractiveness of the company, but also as a way to improve Important cultural tool for productivity. Employee benefits in these daily details can increase the happiness of employees at work, and work efficiency will naturally increase.
  Second, create an atmosphere of simple interpersonal relationships. Studies have found that healthy relationships at work also make employees happy, and that “health” is at the core of simplicity. The simpler the better.
  For example, many companies emphasize that their business is a “big family”, as warm as home, but the image of home itself may have complex interpersonal relationships in addition to warmth and love.
  The author believes that it is still necessary to return to a simple exchange relationship between enterprises and employees. In this way, employees will not invest too much emotion and energy due to complex relationships, so they can work more unburdened.
  Third, increase the degree of matching between enterprises and employees. This is especially important for knowledge workers who mainly contribute mental work. Because the higher the degree of consistency between the two, the more creativity of employees can be exerted, thereby increasing productivity.
  The consistency matching mentioned here mainly includes three aspects: first, the degree of matching between employees’ personal values ​​and corporate organizational values ​​or organizational culture; second, the matching degree between employees’ personal needs and enterprise needs; The matching between capabilities and general capabilities required for enterprise development. Among these three points, the matching of values ​​may be the most important point.
  At a seminar at Copenhagen Business School, executives of some multinational companies gathered to discuss the values ​​they value, and the five most important values ​​were honesty, love, beauty, peace of mind, and happiness. Instead, some companies are upholding the values ​​of success, efficiency, power, competitiveness and productivity. It can be seen that there is a big difference between the values ​​that executives value and the values ​​that companies value. This reminds the executives and bosses of many companies that they should focus on establishing their own corporate culture. At the same time, it also reminds everyone that when looking for a job, they should pay more attention to whether the values ​​of the company match those of the individual, which is related to the happiness at work.

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