Article: Hawthorne effect: Can it help to make the employees productive

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Hawthorne effect: Can it help to make the employees productive

How does the observation of employee change his/her behavior? Is it an apt mode of inducing behavioral change in employees? Read on to find out.
Hawthorne effect: Can it help to make the employees productive

Hawthorne effect can be described merely as a change in a person's behavior on knowing that they are being observed or studied. The name Hawthorne has been derived from studies which were performed at the Hawthorne Works near Chicago. The experiment was to check if the level of light in the building affected the productivity of employees. The researchers found that the level of light had nothing to do with productivity, but employees performed better when they were under observation. 

The behavior of employees instantly changed when one or many variables like workplace were manipulated and the change in levels of light did not affect the output. The logical explanation for this behavior or output was that the employees felt tremendous and pleased to be singled out and resulted in a more significant outcome and optimized productivity.

“We must understand that the Hawthorne effect was not successful due to change in surroundings, but also because they felt they were important and the presence of researchers had a motivational impact. Hawthorne practice will have a substantial effect if any organization takes interests in an employee’s experience during work hour, implement feedbacks and observe the challenges faced by them.” 

Incorporating Hathorne effects in your company

Behavior at a workplace can get monotonous due to the same surrounding and environment being experienced by the employee every day. We must understand that the Hawthorne effect was not successful due to change in surroundings, but also because they felt they were important and the presence of researchers had a motivational impact. Hawthorne practice will have a substantial effect if any organization takes interests in an employee’s experience during work hour, implement feedbacks and observe the challenges faced by them. Elton Mayo, the lead researcher at Hawthorne, had described the increase in productivity as a result of a sensitive and compassionate work environment.

There are two easy steps which can make an employee feel wanted and improve their work quality.

Everyone gets excited during festive seasons, and the only reason is the energy that all emit during any festival. Change in the work environment like a change in the seating arrangement, bring a plant to work or decorate your aisle or wall can deliver the same effect. The positive energy at workplace will reflect the productivity of work.

Observing how your employees are functioning and if they require any help. Try and connect with them to understand their challenges and provide solutions to things that can be improved. The simplest factor in providing support and understanding can enhance an employee’s performance.

Benefit or harm of Hawthorne effects?

Hawthorne experiment has always been a debatable conversation as some researchers feel that the effects of this practice do not bore fruits. While others argue stating it is demand effect where the subjects subconsciously change their behavior according to the environment and to achieve the expected results. 

However, four conclusions can be drawn from using Hawthorne effects:

  • The aptitudes of individuals are not perfect predictors of performance. The employees give some indication of improved physical and mental ability. However, the performance is profoundly influenced by social and external factors.

  • Informal organization affects productivity. Hawthorne experiment tends to create a group life among workers. A supervisor's relation with employees influences the productivity levels.

  • Work-group effects productivity. Work groups tend to conclude or have an opinion at norms like what is a fair day's work. However, they provide the best productivity and systematic description of Hawthorne effect.

  • A workplace is a social system. The employees develop an emotion towards workplace and consider any organization as a social system which is designed to be interdependent.

The effects of incorporating the Hawthorne effect cannot be concrete, as the results may vary without 100 percent behavioral assurance of how a person will react to different changes. However, all the fields understand the effects of social science and how it can impact productivity and human behavior. A team manager or a leader can use Hawthorne to their benefit in uplifting a team struggling with efficiency and productivity. The experiment can prove to be a low hanging fruit.

“The Hawthorne effect can prove to be beneficial with the involvement of all employees and employer. It can cause change by making a person feel essential or assigning individual roles to all. What you do does not matter; what matters is how you do it.” 

One can never be sure of anything until and unless they experiment and try new ideas to improve their productivity and keep employees engaged. The Hawthorne effect can prove to be beneficial with the involvement of all employees and employer. It can cause change by making a person feel essential or assigning individual roles to all. What you do does not matter; what matters is how you do it. The productivity of each employee can be optimized by appreciating their work or just promoting new ideas and encouraging employees to come up with new ideas.

Just like a coin, Hawthorne effect has two sides. An organization can benefit immensely by implementing the ideology of Hawthorne effects or collapse. One of the main factors of Hawthorne effect is workgroup which can make or break any company. It is critical for the leaders to ensure positivity in the groups to get maximum productivity as these groups have an incredible effect on all the members of the group and affecting all in the organization. We can conclude that Hawthorne effect can and cannot be considered nor diminished as not beneficial. The conclusions depend on what and how you implement the methods.

Topics: Life @ Work, Employee Relations

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