Human Relations Movement definition

The human relations movement was founded by sociologist George Elton Mayo in the 1930s following a series of experiments known as the Hawthorne studies, which focused on exploring the link between employee satisfaction/wellbeing and workplace productivity.

Essentially the Hawthorne studies concluded that when employers take an interest in workers and make decisions based on their natural needs and psychological makeup, productivity increases. They also found that people work best when organised into groups, when they can have effective two-way communication with their leaders, and when leaders communicate and share information freely as part of an overall cohesive decision-making process.

The human relations movement is seen as the precursor of the modern human resources function. Before the human relations movement, workers were typically seen as replaceable cogs in organisational systems that put the ultimate value on higher output.