At about the same time, in a pioneering American study, Frederick Herzberg (1966) asked employees about their best and worst work experiences. “Good feelings” stories featured achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and learning; Herzberg called these motivators. “Bad feelings” stories clustered around company policy and
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administration, supervision, and working conditions; Herzberg labeled these hygiene factors. Motivators dealt mostly with work itself; hygiene factors bunched up around the work context. Herzberg concluded that attempts to motivate workers with better pay and fringe bene!ts, communications programs, or human relations training missed the point. Instead, he saw “job enrichment” as central to motivation. Enrichment meant giving workers more freedom and authority, more feedback, and greater challenges.
Hackman and his colleagues extended Herzberg’s ideas by identifying three critical factors in job redesign: “Individuals need (1) to see their work as meaningful and worthwhile, more likely when jobs produce a visible and useful ‘whole,’ (2) to use discretion and judgment so they can feel personally accountable for results, and (3) to receive feedback about their efforts so they can improve” (Hackman et al., 1987, p. 320).
Experiments with job redesign have grown signi!cantly in recent decades. Many efforts have been successful, some resoundingly so (Kopelman, 1985; Lawler, 1986; Yorks and Whitsett, 1989; Pfeffer, 1994; Parker andWall, 1998; Mohr and Zoghi, 2006). Typically, job enrichment has a stronger impact on quality than on productivity. Workers !nd more satisfaction in doing good work than in simply working harder (Lawler, 1986). Most workers prefer redesigned jobs, although some still favor old ways. Hackman emphasized that employees with “high growth needs” would welcome job enrichment, while others with “low growth needs” would not. Organizational context also makes a difference. Job redesign produced greater bene!t in situations where working conditions were poor to begin with (Morgeson et al., 2006).
Recent decades have witnessed a gradual reduction in dreary, unchallenging jobs. Routine work has been increasingly redesigned or turned over to machines, robots, and computers. But signi!cant obstacles block the progress of job enrichment, and monotonous jobs will not soon disappear. One barrier is the lingering belief that technical imperatives make simple, repetitive work ef!cient and cheap. Another is the belief that workers produce more in a Theory X environment. A third barrier is economic; many jobs cannot be altered without major investments in redesigning physical plant and machinery. A fourth barrier is illustrated in the doll-manufacturing experiment: When it works, job enrichment leads to pressures for system-wide change. Workers with enriched jobs often develop higher opinions of themselves. They may demand more—sometimes increased bene!ts, other times career opportunities or training for new tasks (Lawler, 1986).
Foster Self-Managing Teams From the beginning, the sociotechnical systems perspective emphasized a close connection between work design and teamwork. Another in”uential early advocate of teaming was
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Rensis Likert, who argued in 1961 that an organization chart should depict not a hierarchy of individual jobs but a set of interconnected teams.1 Each team would be highly effective in its own right and linked to other teams via individuals who served as “linking pins.” It took decades for such ideas to take hold, but an increasing number of !rms now embrace the idea. One is Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain discussed in Chapter 5. The !rm cites “featured team members” on its website, and its “Declaration of Interdependence” pledges, “We Support Team Member Excellence and Happiness.”
The central idea in the autonomous team approach is giving groups responsibility for a meaningful whole—a product, subassembly, or complete service—with ample autonomy and resources and with collective accountability for results. Teams meet regularly to determine work assignments, scheduling, and current production. Supervision typically rests with a team leader, who may be appointed or may emerge from the group. Levels of authority and discretion vary across situations. Some teams have authority to hire, !re, determine pay rates, specify work methods, and manage inventory. In other cases, the team’s scope of decision making is narrower, focusing on issues of production, quality, and work methods.
The human resource concept of teams overlaps with the structural approach to teams (Chapter 5) but emphasizes that teams rarely work without ample training. Workers need group skills and a broader range of technical skills so that each member understands and can perform someone else’s job. “Pay for skills” gives team members an incentive to keep expanding their range of competencies (Manz and Sims, 1995).
Promote Egalitarianism Egalitarianism implies a democratic workplace where employees are an integral part of the decision-making process. This idea goes beyond participation, often viewed as a matter of style and climate rather than shared authority. Even in participative systems, managers still make key decisions. Broader, more egalitarian sharing of power is resisted worldwide (Heller, 2003). Managers have often resisted organizational democracy—the idea of building worker participation into the formal structure to protect it from management interference. Most U.S. !rms report some form of employee involvement, but the approaches (such as a suggestion box or quality circle) “do not fundamentally change the level of decision-making authority extended to the lowest levels of the organization” (Ledford, 1993, p. 148). American organizations make less use of workforce involvement than evidence of effectiveness warrants (Pfeffer, 1998; Ledford, 1993).
Formal efforts to democratize the workplace are more common in some parts of Europe. Norway, for example, legally mandated worker participation in decision making
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in 1977 (Elden, 1983, 1986). Major corporations pioneered efforts to democratize and improve the quality of work life. Three decades later, the results of the “Norwegian model” look impressive—Norway came in at number one on the 2017 World Happiness Report (Worldhappiness.report, 2017) and is regularly at or near the top of rankings for “best country to live in,” with a strong economy, broad prosperity, low unemployment, and excellent health care (Barstad, Ellingsen, and Hellevik, 2005; Gar!eld, 2015).
The Brazilian manufacturer Semco offers another dramatic illustration of organizational democracy in action (Killian, Perez, and Siehl, 1998; Semler, 1993). Ricardo Semler took over the company from his father in the 1980s and gradually evolved an unorthodox philosophy of management. At Semco, workers hire new employees, evaluate bosses, and vote on major decisions. In one instance, employees voted to purchase an abandoned factory that Semler didn’t want and then proceeded to turn it into a big success. “In a 10-year recessionary period in Brazil, Semco’s revenues still grew 600 percent, pro!ts were up 500 percent, productivity was up700 percent, and for the last 20+ years, employee turnover remains at an incredibly low 1–2 percent per year. They have no managers, no HR department, no written policies (just a few written beliefs) and no of!ce hours. Everyone works in small, self-motivated, self- managed work teams who make their own decisions regarding salary, hiring, !ring, and who leads the team for the next six months” (Blakeman, 2014).