The Humanized Workplace: A Psychological, Historical, and Practical Perspective

The Humanized Workplace: A Psychological, Historical, and Practical Perspective

The Humanized Workplace: A Psychological, Historical, and Practical Perspective

The Humanized Workplace: A Psychological, Historical, and Practical Perspective


This is a holistic presentation of methods and problems involved in humanizing work. The comments will be of interest to practitioners dealing with work, and should give realism to debates concerned with alienation in the workplace. The theory is described, and the American system is compared with those in place in Western Europe and Japan. This work should be of interest to scholars, students and practitioners in industrial relations, labor problems, organizational behavior, and human resources in general.


take wanted by these workers. Yet a union election in New Jersey was won by a union because it promised workers they would have direct input on what went on in their jobs. Thus, both union and management have both won and lost over the same issue--individual freedom.

In 1935 the representatives of a union organizing committee, then engaged in a sitdown strike at the Bendix plant in South Bend, Indiana, and of the company engaged in bargaining discussions in a hotel room. What then happened is that they heard singing coming from a washroom. They opened the door, and they saw millionaire inventor Vincent Bendix and one of the leaders of the Socialist Party in America, their arms wrapped around each other, singing. A company representative suggested they be separated and brought back to their rooms so that bargaining could resume the next day. Somehow it would have been nice if things could have been done differently. There might be a lesson in this, or maybe a few.

In the working world you are constantly looking for equilibrium. The work is too tedious, or the co-workers are not congenial, or it's too far to commute, or there's not enough money. Because of the constant pressure of outside forces to which you adapt, but do not control, s situation where you are bored because you don't have enough to do can easily be replaced by a hectic rush. The constant planning of the business world to avoid such extremes can only modify this situation; it cannot prevent it. This is especially the case when, because of the costs involved, it is easier for the company to adapt you to the pressures of the job than the reverse.

Many factors can affect your bargaining power. One is how much in demand your skill is. Other factors determine how easily the company can pass on wage hikes to consumers. Large companies, companies in growth industries with products greatly in demand, companies whose products have no substitutes, companies without fierce competition, and companies whose labor costs are not a large part of the cost of the final product can afford to pay very well. Working conditions depend greatly on the technical nature of the work. The location of the place of work, whether there is a stable or a changing work force, and the operations, job content, and shifts are conditions that usually depend more on technical considerations than on personal preference. Some unions seem to think that what they do creates power, rather than coordinating power that is already there. That is a debatable point.

Because planning is limited by technical constraints, and not by goodwill, skilled and professional workers whose outputs are less easily . . .

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