Like the family and the economy, religion is a universal and pervasive phenomenon, a part of the cultural system, because it is assumed to meet some basic need of human being. Religion is an integrated part of human experience and shows remarkable continuity through time. Even in the modern secularized societies in the West, religion has persisted and still exerts a great influence in the lives of the people. Almost all known peoples in all places and times have some set of specific cultural patterns made up of beliefs and codes of conduct, tinged with emotional feelings, although not all people are religious. To those who subscribe to a religious view, an explanation or justification of human behavior and social organization regarding the distribution of power between the leaders and the governed, the moral code, the distribution of wealth, or the success of some and failure of others may be found in religion.
Religion is interwoven with the social, economic, and political life of the people. It is properly one of the areas of interest to a sociologist because of its influence on the individual and its functions in society. A sociologist’s main concern in the study of religion is not to establish the truth or falsity of a certain religion but to look into its structure, organization, and role and to observe how it affects and influences an individual or society. The sociological theorists aver that religion arises from society and societal needs and that through religious beliefs and practices, cohesion and continuity of the society are attained. Religion has great impact to every individual. It can surely change man’s view point. Nowadays, there are many problems arise between the employees and their employers. Some of these problems may regard to religious beliefs that contradict the rules and regulations of the company or vice versa. Since the employees are subject to their employers’ rules and authority, they tend to abide the set regulations though it is against their will and because of this case; several inevitable dilemmas arise that affect the growth of the organization.
A fundamental principle that must be kept in mind, here as in every aspect of life, is that the facts of organizational life look different to its many participants. A potent chemical may be seen by a chemical engineer as a useful base for a new and profitable plastic product, but to the worker who transports or manipulates the material, it may look like a deadly brew. To an executive, moving production to Korea may look like a good way to increase profits; yet, to the employees of the abandoned American plant, such a move looks like a threat to their livelihood. Unprecedented profits signal large bonuses to top managers; to union officials, these same profits look like a fund to be tapped to raise wages and benefits for the workers. These examples should serve to remind you that we can never be absolutely sure what the “real” facts are in any situation. We can be reasonably sure about how these are perceived by different individuals—whether executives, workers, union leaders, or customers—but each of these will see a different reality. This principle of perception defines a major part of I/O psychology. One must keep in mind at all times that “the real facts” depend on who is describing them.
The intents of this paper are to: (1) find out the organizational problems; (2) know how to get good employees; (3) have an idea in how to change employees (4) figure out how to change work settings; (5) be aware of motivation for employees; (6) know about the job satisfaction; (7) be knowledgeable about the occupational health and quality of work life and; (8) understand the organizational climate such as organizational diagnosis, development and theories.
A. Organizational Problems
The world of work is beset by a wide variety of human problems. If there are jobs to be done, workers must be selected who are most likely to be efficient and satisfied on specific job. If the task is complicated, training must be instituted to ensure that materials, equipment, and workers are not damaged. Emotions become involved; workers fear layoffs and disciplinary actions. People must be motivated to learn and to perform well.
Conflicts occur between managers and subordinates, between managements and unions, and even between executives within the same firm. For example, production executives feud with the sales managers about the budget; production wants new machinery, sales wants to spend more on advertising and marketing. People generally want to increase their importance by expanding the department to which they belong. One executive may issue an order that is countermanded by another executive. These disputes, in turn, create anxiety and insecurity at lower levels.
It is important to note here that the basis for these problems is not always a matter of increasing or maintaining organizational profitability as many would suspect. First of all, some organizations are public enterprises which do not seek to make profits. Secondly, organizational leaders in both the public and private sectors may have any number of different concerns in mind (e.g., increasing morale or commitment decreasing turnover or absenteeism). Generally, it is safer to say that the principal underlying interest is effectiveness that the principal underlying interest is effectiveness. An effective organization, whether public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit, is a system of individuals that achieves its goals. A problem, therefore, is any obstacle that prevents an organization from attaining the degree of effectiveness its leaders or members hope to achieve.
Today psychologists are being asked to solve organizational problems more frequently because it is now recognized that the application of psychological principles is often very potent in facilitating organizational effectiveness. Organizations are, after all, only as effective as their constituent parts—their people. Consequently, an organizational problem is usually a people problem that can be solved by adopting one or more of the following three approaches: (1) getting new people, (2) changing people, or (3) changing components of the peoples’ work settings.
Getting new people is traditionally associated with industrial psychology (also known as personnel psychology) which came into prominence as a result of contributions made during and after the world wars. The country faced great pressures in classifying new recruits during the wars and selecting and placing veterans afterwards. Industrial psychologists devised new ideas and methods to alleviate the strains the nation faced. Because of the successes of those contributions, psychology secured a specialized role in recruitment, selection, and placement that continues today. These tasks are made difficult by the fact that individuals differ along a myriad of traits, abilities, skills and other attributes. For any organization to operate effectively there must be a good fit between job demands and personal qualities.
Changing people and work settings were traditional approaches of organizational psychologists. Industrial psychologists tended to focus their studies on characteristics of individuals in an attempt to match people with existing jobs. Organizational psychologists, on the other hand, focused on change by modifying jobs and interpersonal and organizational conditions. To change employees they have used training, education, development, counseling, or other strategies. Sometimes the change was simply a matter of orienting new employees to an organization’s general policies, benefits, and so forth. Other times, the task was more complex such as retaining older workers whose long held jobs have become obsolete or assisting employees who are dependent upon alcohol or other substances. If employees fail to grow or change, the organization itself may soon to be unable to adapt to the challenges of meeting its goals.
The issue of adaptation underscores changing organizations as well. For some organizational problems, the most expedient solution is to change the work rather than the workers. These changes may be as simple as providing up-to-date tools and equipment or as elaborate as redesigning jobs to give employees a chance to do work that is interesting and meaningful by using a variety of their skills. Or, the intervention can be even more global such as changing an entire organization’s structure by modifying division functions and lines of communication.
A. Getting Good Employees
One of the first applications of psychology to organizational problems occurred shortly after the turn of the 21st century in response to the need to choose new employees (Guion, 2000) and employee selection remains today as one of I/O psychology’s most recognized activities.
Choosing new employees is, however, only part of an overall approach to bringing good employees into an organization. The best candidates for a job do not always find organizations, the organizations must find them. Thus, organizations must frequently develop expensive and far-reaching recruitment strategies to fill certain jobs. Both research and common sense show clearly that the better the applicant pool in terms of the quality and quantity of job candidates, the better the odds of finding superior employees to handle the demands of available jobs (Schmidt et al., 1999). Different recruitment strategies have different effects on an organization’s applicant pool. Boudreau and Rynes (2001), for example, show that the use of a private employment agency can be far more beneficial to an organization than simple advertising and resume screening.
Having good job candidates available is one thing, making good hiring decisions is another. Fairly recent research has led to some rather profound conclusions about selection methods (see Lent, Aurbach, & Levin 1999). In sum, the findings suggest that some selection procedures are considerably more accurate than others. Consequently, it follows that each of the various methods may produce vastly different consequences for employers. Most employers are surprised too learn that the traditional interview method is one of the worst single procedures available (Hunter & Hunter, 2002). Other methods such as standardized cognitive and physical ability tests are much more accurate in identifying the top job candidates. An organization that picks the most superior applicants can expect the finest job performance which implies the organization as a whole will be more effective and productive. The same principles apply to promotions as well because these choices are basically internal selection decisions.
Job Analysis. Selection works best if it is for a specific job. Accurate placement is necessary if an organization hopes to maximize the match between an employee’s talents and a job. It becomes imperative, therefore, to know as much about a job as the capabilities of the persons who hold it. In truth, legal guidelines stipulate that all employment decisions (i.e., selection, training, performance appraisal, etc.) must be made on the basis of job-related information. This information is obtained from a job analysis.
v Job analysis procedures break jobs into their constituent parts for examination and description. Depending upon the specific job analysis technique, a job may be dissected a number of different ways (see Prien, 2000). Suppose, for example, a firm wants to hire some new assemblers for video games. The firm may use a job analysis method that involves identifying the movements made by the worker on that task, the materials handled, the equipment involved, and so on. For a light assembly job such as this, work may require handling lightweight components, using a screwdriver or a soldering iron, and so forth. The pieces are small and handled at close range, so, good near—vision acuity is important.
The psychologist then prepares a battery of tests to measure these and, if necessary, other aptitudes. Many I/O psychologists work full-time devising and evaluating new tests of abilities, skills, interests, and other attributes for their client and employers.
B. Changing Employees
Finding, hiring, and placing employees gets the organization off to a good start, but some later modifications of employees’ skills and behavior are usually necessary. Thus, a second aspect of I/O psychology to be considered is how the principles of learning, memory, and feedback may be applied to affecting change within an organization.
Training. Training extends the process of fitting people to jobs. The term refers to any planned activities designed to produce a change in employee behavior. In order to train effectively, an organization’s trainers must give careful thought to content and method—what must be taught and how it will be communicated.
The first step in establishing a training program is to conduct a needs assessment. After all, why spend a lot of time and money on training unless it is specifically designed to address competencies that are truly needed? The needs assessment should provide a specification of the characteristics (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities) that are not available among current workers, but are needed to perform a given job or jobs. Again, the emphasis is on job-related information. Once training needs are identified, the content and methods can be better planned and developed.
Planning and developing training content and methods of instruction represents the most apparent point where psychological principles of learning and memory are applied. For example, if the trainees must learn how to perform a rather complex task such as repairing an automobile engine, the training will be most effective if spaced over time with different parts of the task presented a little at a time. Research has shown too that it is extremely important to incorporate plenty of opportunities for practice and feedback into the training. A frequently overlooked principle concerns state-dependent memory. Training is most effective if it occurs under conditions that are very similar to the situation that will be encountered on the job. This principle can be carried to an extreme by ensuring that all training actually occurs on the job (Houston, 2001). Unfortunately, on-the-job training tends to be rather spotty and unsystematic and thus some amount of formal instruction is usually necessary for jobs that require moderate high level skills.
In the last 20 ears, training has become an increasingly important activity for I/O psychologists and organizations largely far more complex. As a result, a large number of programs and techniques have been recently introduced without extensive testing and evaluation. Conducting a valid training evaluation is one of the most challenging tasks to any researcher or trainer. Some of the more promising techniques include computer-assisted instruction, role playing, and behavior modeling.
In computer-assisted instruction, (CAI), a number of potential actions to each step of a job task are outlined in a computer program. Popular children’s educational toys use the same technique. The principles of instrumental learning as described by Thorndike and Skinner are particularly relevant here. Trainees are required to interact with the program to learn the optimal course of action. As the trainees successively try to approximate the best set of responses to the total task, the computer system keeps track of trainee progress, provides feedback, and computes scores. Another important feature of CAI is that trainees are allowed to proceed at their own pace.
Role playing and behavior modeling are related techniques typically used in managerial training that also capitalize on a number of important conditioning principles (e.g., meaningful content, active learning, and peer influences). Role playing, also known as psychodrama, requires the trainees to adopt a role. For instance, in some human relations courses a white student may be asked to play the part of a black person and interact with other students in order to experience a glimpse of the realities of prejudice and discrimination. Behavior modeling emphasizes the principles of observational or social learning elaborated by Albert Bandura and others (Bandura, 1999b; Goldstein & Sorcher, 2000). Essentially, it presents trainees with live or filmed models who perform a given task. The trainees are then given the opportunity to practice the modeled task and receive detailed feedback on their performance. Ideally, the trainees are also monitored at work to determine whether their training transferred to their jobs, and to examine the extent to which change has occurred in job performance.
Performance Appraisal. If all jobs involved turning out pieces of a product that could be counted, performance would fairly obvious. However, most jobs are far too complex for that. A supervisor, for example, may produce nothing material, yet be an important link in the operation of the enterprise. A very common complaint we hear from both workers and mangers is, “I’m not told how I’m doing.” Low-level employees, especially, claim that they are never told when they are doing a good job; they are only scolded for something that went wrong.
In former years, employers were free to discharge an employee without giving any reason. This freedom has been severely limited by unions and, to some extent, by federal legislation. To prove that a worker has been doing unsatisfactory work, standard practice today is for the supervisor to have a formal session with the employee once a year (sometimes more often) to tell the employee what is good or bad about his or her performance. The motivation for such meetings, then, is often to maintain records to prove that some disciplinary action was justified. However, the results of regular performance appraisals have demonstrated many benefits. The employee becomes aware of what management expects in the way of output, and managers re motivated to observe more carefully what subordinates are doing. (Supervisors are appraised by their supervisors on how well they handle this function for their employees).
Performance appraisal is a heavily researched topic in I/O psychology. In truth, I/O psychologists have never felt comfortable with the measures they have available such as supervisor ratings of subordinate job performance. Being their own worst critics, they go to great lengths to discover problems of validity and reliability in their techniques and to improve them.
The amount of attention employee performance appraisal continues to receive is understandable when one considers its possible functions. These measures provide the basic information and data psychologists need to determine the effects of their activities in organizations. How else can a selection or staffing procedure be evaluated? What other techniques will allow trainers to judge the merits of their programs? In what other ways might engineering psychologists or organizational development specialists discover the ramifications of their modifications of work conditions or procedures?
In the final analysis, performance appraisal is of utmost importance to both management and self-control. For management, it provides a means of monitoring, measuring, and changing the activities and outputs of sometimes diverse system components—the people that make up the collectives we call organizations. For employees, performance appraisals provide essential feedback or knowledge of results which enables them to discover how well they are performing their job. Information of this sort is often critical to improving our performance because it allows us to see our “hits and misses.”
C. Changing Work Settings
Most of the activities of I/O psychologists deal with attempts to assess or change people directly. However, there is one specialized branch, called human engineering (also known as engineering psychology, human factors, biomechanics, ergonomics, psycho-technology, and applied experimental psychology) that is more explicitly concerned with the environment characteristics, facilities, equipment, and tools with which people must interact (see Wickens, 2002). Specialists in this area do not generally overlap much with those already described. The human engineer is usually trained in experimental psychology and may know little of social or industrial psychology.
From the societal point of view, noise control is urgently needed; several studies have shown that school children is noisy home environments become educationally handicapped much more often than matched groups from quieter neighborhoods. It is not clear whether the main factor is distraction, interference with homework or stress.
Human Engineering. Human engineering is most frequently associated with human-machine systems. From the systems point of view, people are considered to be part of a larger entity that may also include a machine. The usual objective is to design or redesign the machine (or the job, work area, etc.) so that it is compatible with the cognitive and physical capabilities of its human operator, user, or inhabitant. The goal is, minimize input and maximize output). It is hoped that these changes will allow people to work smarter, not harder.
Like many of the activities of I/O psychology, this field also grew out of World War II. With increasingly complex weapons systems, the chances of human error multiply, and the disastrous consequences of an error are also magnified. Thus, for example, psychologists were asked to design the optimum dial display for an airplane cockpit (Chapanis, 1999), for tank controls, and so on. Crashes of military planes became less frequent as these designs were built into new equipment.
Another interesting example of human engineering involves the design of control levers. Sometimes, because of limited space, as in an airplane cockpit, two levers must be close together, but it is important that the operator move one and not the other. The solution developed was to put different knobs on the levers, one a sphere, the other a cube. Thus the operator, without losing sight of a target, would know at a touch which lever was which.
I/O psychologists, however, have taken a tip from human engineers and now talk of organizational engineering. This means modifying the organization to fit the needs of the persons running it. Consider, for example, a top executive who likes to deal only with a few close associates. The organization may provide an assistant who screens people and admits only those with important problems. Another example is that of a chief officer who is a brilliant technician but poor at human relations. An associate (perhaps a vice president) with complimentary skills, such as interpersonal skills for soothing individuals with complaints, may be chosen to solve the problem.
Working Conditions. Many organizational problems of the past focused on overheated, dirty, or hazardous work environments. Since passage of the 1971 Occupational safety and health Act, many of these problems have been dealt with successfully—the exceptions are toxic wastes and radiation hazards. On the whole, present-day engineers design factories for optimum safety by employing simple psychological principles (for example, color coding pipes to show which contain dangerous chemicals or focusing illumination on the work surface without blinding the worker).
A recent phenomenon causing some alarm is the possibility that some people usually new, almost air-tight structures that are hosts to a variety of contaminants and viruses which are continuously redistributed throughout the buildings by their ventilation systems. Another recent concern comes from office employees who are complaining of health impairments due to working with computers, word processors, and video displays. Numerous studies are under way to verify whether these hazards exist and, if so, to devise solutions. Mechanized office devices also seem to be triggering the increased unionization of white-collar employees. Typists using word processors, for example, know that the machine keeps a record of exactly how much time is spent per document handled. Thus, a much closer supervision is possible than was possible in the past.
Another intriguing example concerns on how workers resent being controlled by a computer. A major auto maker introduced a new computerized procedure for inspecting finished car s coming off the line. The inspector climbed into the car and watched a video screen above the windshield. The screen would flash, “test the brakes”, the inspector would do so, and the computer would record that the brakes functioned properly. The horn, shift lever, and other functioning components were tested in similar fashion. A company psychologist warned that using this procedure would cause trouble, and it did. Within a week all the inspectors had refused to work under the computer control and an expensive installation had to be scrapped.
Most people make attributions about the behavior of others, sometimes judiciously, sometimes ineptly. We hear people say “He only did that to impress his wife”; “She has a lot of pent-up anger and sometimes it blows loose”; “He has a strong need to flirt with every woman at the party.” Such judgments are based on theories about motivation, although the average person would deny having a theory and most likely could not verbalize.
The theories about human behavior held by a person in business have a lot to do with smooth employee relations. Similarly, union officers have theories about the behavior of executives, and workers have theories about both. These popular theories are often in sharp contrast to those favored by experienced psychologists.
The motivation theories preferred currently by most I/O psychologists may be listed under the heading, expectancy theories (Miner, 2001). In general, the expectancy theories place emphases on an organism’s ability to form relationships between covert events such as cognitions, beliefs, expectations, anticipants, and overt events such as rewards, punishments, outcomes, behaviors. Thus, an I/O psychologist might conceive of an individual’s behavioral tendencies according to the following model:
B=M X A X V
B = Behavior – a tendency to behave a certain way or make a specific response;
M = Motive – an internal event that prods one to act;
A = Ability – the belief that one is capable of either producing a certain behavior or achieving a specific outcome;
V = Value – one’s preference for a specific response or outcome.
This model is helpful because it allows us to explore the various ways the separate facets of motivation are conceived. One should define at least two different ways. We include the view points that have attracted the most attention of psychologists. In the example that follows, we show how one psychologist might use the model.
To begin, the term motive (M) is used to refer to needs and/or drives. By most accounts, motives can be triggered by external events such as the sight of a cool drink on a blistering hot day and by internal events such as low levels of cellular fluids. The ability term (A) is considered to be the result of actual capabilities and competencies and one’s personal beliefs that these knowledge, skills, and abilities are sufficient to enable certain events. Some theorists assume the ability beliefs are best characterized as expectations that one is capable of producing certain behaviors. Other theorists propose that people form expectations about producing outcomes such as receiving an award. Remember, behaviors and outcomes, of behaviors are two different things. Some theorists, of course, assume both types of expectations are involved. Similarly, the value term (V) represents a person’s affective reaction to a possible behavior or a result— how favorable specific behaviors or goals appear to someone. For example, some people like to take a challenging climb up a rocky face of a mountain whereas others prefer a leisurely stroll along a mountain trail. Some people consider money an important possession yet others view it as an evil temptation. Theorists are split on how to best view this term as well.
Putting, all the terms in formula at once suggests that person’s behavioral tendencies are the multiplicative result of thoughts (A) and feelings (M and V), otherwise known as cognitive and emotion, reason and passion, head and heart. To illustrate, let us call Lisa’s problem in choosing a major. For the motive term, we may assume she has a fairly strong need for achievement since she is beginning to feel deeply concerned about her future career. The greater her hunger for success, the greater the magnitude of the M term in the motivation equation. But success in what? This is where the V and A terms become important because they serve to channel or direct her potential responses. If business were indeed her favorite type of work and psychology her second, the V associated with business would be higher and we would predict that she will declare a business major. However, she appears to be torn between the two and thus it appears that both business and psychology have equivalent values. As she becomes more familiar with I/O psychology she may find that it has even more appeal. Still, Lisa may find that she is unable to get grades in any of her psychology classes that are as high as her business scores. Hence, the possible higher V associated with I/O psychology may be offset by a lower A. A, what do you think will happen to Lisa? Time will tell.
Models of human behavior such as the one just described are interesting, but their real importance stems from their usefulness. For those interested in finding people for a given job, the current model suggests one should compare the candidates’ desire and competencies against whatever the job offers (e.g., recognition, big benefits, and interesting work) and demands (e.g., eye-hand coordination, communication skills, and knowledge of bookkeeping principles). For those interested in changing a setting, the model specifies how the characteristics of the operators should be considered while designing an office, a machine, or a tool. The prudent engineering psychologist considers operator feelings as well as abilities.
Our motivation model has further usefulness in that it helps to illustrate a number of additional important points. First, behavior is purposeful; there is a reason or goal for everything we do. Ultimately, we seek to reduce our needs and drives even though we may not be aware of it. Second, although the recent theories about motivation place considerable emphasis on cognitive factors, people in real life do not use these capabilities as fully as they could. All of us, and that include psychologists and managers, tend to be cognitive misers in the sense that we do not really take the time and energy to examine the range of possible behaviors and goals that are available to us in any given situation. In keeping with the principles of conditioning, we tend to do what we have done in the past or imitate behaviors we have seen others use in similar situations. Aside from consistencies in our needs and abilities, this observation accounts for much of the apparent unchanging nature of our personalities.
Third, and finally, the model helps us appreciate the need to view people as individuals. People enter work settings with a myriad of differing motives, abilities, and values. At the same time, the organizations for which they work have their own inherent goals, capacities, and customs which partly explain why it is often difficult to achieve or maintain a match between people and work situations. Essentially, by choosing and changing people or by changing organizational situations, the I/O psychologist attempts to improve the goodness of fit between individuals and organizations. For now, suffice it to say that it is exceedingly difficult for any psychologist organization to develop a single motivational strategy that can be effective for all employees.
As noted above, an important concern of many employers is the satisfaction of their employees. I/O psychologists have examined satisfaction and its relationship to performance and absenteeism and turnover) for several decades. Now, after thousands of studies, the evidence is converging on the view that there appears to be a relationship between the two only in very special instances such as among some older workers or among the few persons who hold high level jobs. Consequently, many observers question the belief that making a worker happier or more satisfied will necessarily make that employee more productive, punctual, or longer lasting (see Hackett & Guion, 2000).
As we go up the organizational ladder, satisfaction steadily increases. Managers not only receive higher incomes than workers, they also get more satisfaction for motives such as power, prestige, and self-expression.
Motivation is important to job performance and job satisfaction. Performance can be achieved by negative motivations, such as fear of hunger or pain (slaves will work if threatened with punishment). Performance, then, is not tied directly to satisfaction. The average employee will put up with some discomfort on the job because it is the only way to obtain money, which in turn is the only way to get food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities of life.
Job satisfaction studies confirm the popular belief that the most frustrating job category is that of working on the assembly line. One other point should be made regarding surveys of job satisfaction. These surveys usually point up one outstanding issue that demands corrective action—perhaps supervision, promotion policy, or shift assignment. Management may take corrective steps (e.g., supervisory training) and find next year that this facet is indeed more satisfactory but that some other issue is now salient. Top executives may react to this by saying that workers are never satisfied, and, to certain extent, this is true. It follows from the concept of motivation you have already studied. When one motive, hunger, for example, is satisfied, it weakens and ceases to dominate behavior. But some other motive immediately takes over to influence one’s actions. The person involved may then seek sexual gratification, or prestige, or some other goal. Humans simply do not stay in a state of complete satisfaction for very long. We all have many motives and seek to satisfy as many as possible.
Despite criticisms, satisfaction surveys are here to stay. Neiner (1999) found that most of the 375 life insurance companies he surveyed reported that they used these surveys either occasionally or often. A striking 98% agreed with the statement, “Employees appreciate the opportunity to express their opinions and attitudes in an employee attitude survey.” By contrast, 87% rejected the proposition that, “Employee attitude surveys create more problems than they solve.” Thus, it appears that in companies where this psychological technique has been used, managers overwhelming favor it.
Some popular writers use the term morale as equivalent to job satisfaction, but I/O psychologists make a distinction between the terms. Job satisfaction is an individual phenomenon; even efficient workers may be dissatisfied. Morale, on the other hand, is a group phenomenon. An employee, for example, might have low morale relative to the company (thinks it a lousy place to work), but have high morale relative to the union (the members really stick together). Thus, the preferred usage is to treat morale as a feeling of belonging to a group and striving to make it a success. Managers are likely to have high company morale; they identify themselves with the firm and take pride in its success. Union officers are more likely to have high union morale. Interestingly, there are some firms where union officers also have high company morale. This is possible only where labor relations flow smoothly.
E. Occupational Health
Generally speaking, work is full of potential stressors (e.g., project deadlines, noisy workplaces, demanding bosses). We say potential, because of the considerable individual differences in susceptibility to specific threats, changes, pressures, conflicts, and other events. Of course, some jobs always seem to have more potential stress than others.
A classic investigation of the mental health of factory employees is that of Kornhauser (2001). Using skilled interviewers, Kornhauser obtained extensive information on the duties as well as the complaints of several hundred automobile workers. When the interviewers were analyzed, it was clear that assembly-line workers reported more anger, worries, depression, and family conflicts that did skilled or maintenance workers in the same plant. Kronhauser interpreted the findings as resulting from the fragmented, repetitive nature of assembly-line tasks.
It should be noted, in this connection, that the myth about executives being especially likely to develop ulcers, hypertension, and other symptoms of executive stress, is just that—a myth. The frequency of these psychosomatic disorders, which are linked actually increases significantly as one goes down the organizational scale from executives to shop workers. Perhaps, as one cartoonist put, “Executives don’t get ulcers; they give other people ulcers.”
In the face of widely reported stress research findings, employees in the U.S. are making health-related concerns an increasingly important issue. People from all walks of life are very familiar with the potential effects of stress and the trends show that workers are becoming more sophisticated about both disease prevention and treatment. With or without the support of unions, employees are asking for less stress in their work. They also expect their employers to provide good health care benefit packages. Indeed, because national evidence shows injured employees are beginning to seek large occupational disease claim rewards in the courts, employers are compelled to find ways to reduce employee stress and provide health care benefits (see Rust, 2001).
F. Quality of Work life
Because it makes better sense to try to prevent rather than fix job dissatisfaction, low morale, and poor physical and mental health, employers are receptive to suggestions from psychologists. In most cases, this means seeking to modify situations to reduce employee stress or low morale, as opposed to helping employees after they have burned out from it. The quality of work life (QWL) movement, which started in the United States in the 1970s, is a cooperative venture by some mangers and union leaders to improve satisfaction and morale through changes in psychological aspects of the work environment.
A common form of QWL program involves upward communication. Workers have often complained that nobody listens. A potential remedy, then, is to institute regular meetings at which workers are encouraged to voice complaints and make suggestions for improving the situation. A psychologist is often involved in getting such a program started, to assure the employees that no one will be punished for criticizing the supervisor or for revealing improper activities at the workplace. When employees really open up, many good ideas for improving operations are often discovered. Members of top management may visit these shop floor meetings on a random basis to get a feeling for what workers have on their minds.
Some companies, and a few unions, report approval of QWL programs. Morale is said to be higher and efficiency equal to or better than before the program began. Other reports are less encouraging. Some firms have discontinued the program because costs went up and productivity did not keep pace. A few unions have effectively abolished QWL projects because, in their judgment, they were being used to speed up production without any visible benefit to the employees.
The failure of some QWL programs may traced to a number of causes. Often is due to lack of commitment from top management or a refusal to listen to or implement subordinate proposals. In other cases failures are due to misplaced emphases on worker participation in management decision making. Some employees do not want to participate and feel distressed because they think they must. These findings offer still further illustration of the previous discussion of motivation. Employees enter employment situations with a variety of needs and capacities; QWL is enhanced when these factors are explicitly considered.
G. Organizational Climate
As the forgoing discussion indicates, I/O psychologists have gradually expanded their territory to include studies of an entire organization, as opposed to the focus on individuals that characterized the field. The expansion has occurred as it become clear that work at the level of the individual manager or worker may be useless unless organizational environment can be modified.
One of the concepts that illustrates this development is organizational climate, defined as the nature of the work environment with regard to clarity of rules, nature of organizational structure, and personalities of the workers involved. In keeping with the previous discussion of the differing realities of organizations, it should be noted that some psychologists prefer the term, psychological climate, when the emphasis is on the perceived nature or inhabitability of the work environment (see James & Sells, 1999).
Organizational Diagnosis. Obviously, one phase of the expanding role of organizational psychology is organizational diagnosis. As the term implies, this means a thorough study of the policies, practices, and people of a company to determine the causes of the company’s problems and to derive a plan to reduce or eliminate them. Psychologists have taken a major role in developing this field, although sociologists and institutional economists have also done valuable work on the problem.
Organizational diagnosis usually begins with interviews, starting at the top and moving downward. This is necessary because lower-level managers will refuse to talk freely unless the chief executive has demonstrated readiness to do so. As the interviews proceed, the psychologist gets an idea of the system as it is seen at different levels of management (remember, we never know what the organization is really like, but only what it looks like to different observers). The interviewer might ask each person to draw a mental map of the company and describe the differences from one manager to another. Most people tend to exaggerate the importance of their own department or function. Barriers are often seen to exist when there is no tangible evidence for them.
Communications upward and downward are important clues to the ills of the organization. In a traditional, authoritarian firm, communications flow freely down from the chief, but upward flows are rare and often inaccurate. For example, a supervisor may report that the staff of a certain section is upset by a new procedure, but the supervisor’s superior may hold up this report because it would make the whole department look bad. Reports are often rewritten to conceal the difficulty or to blame it on some other segment of the firm.
Leadership style is one of the factors determining organizational or psychological climate and, in turn, is modified by that climate. Thus, a dictatorial executive may try to motivate subordinates by fear, threatening discharges, shut-downs, and other punitive actions. This increases the tension among lower-level managers, who may try the same tactics on the shop workers or office employees. Democratic leadership stresses positive rewards, cooperation, and a chance for those at the lower levels to be heard on policies and procedures.
Economic conditions also affect climate. When sales are down and profits disappear, executives may try to cut costs by laying off workers. Those who are kept on feel insecure and spend time looking for other jobs; they may slow down their output in the hope of being kept on the payroll for a longer time. In times of economic expansion, managers are prone to be more relaxed and less threatening.
Job satisfaction surveys, is available, help in organizational diagnosis. Interviews may explain the reasons for the complaints shown in the survey; the survey data indicate how widespread the difficulty id in the organization.
The purpose of a diagnosis is, of course, to help prescribe treatment. Through organizational development I/O psychologists try to repair an ineffective organization. To institute change without a thorough diagnosis is very risky. The ethical psychologist generally refuses to make any recommendations without a fairly extensive study of how the organization is functioning.
Organizational change makes use of many skills. However, the efforts of the most knowledgeable and skillful organizational development expert will be ineffective unless the top management is committed to change and actively supports the expert.
Participating from non-managers is often helpful as well because it gives employees a sense of control over the changes that occur. Participation also gives employees a feeling of ownership of whatever interventions are implemented which sometimes further improves the chances that are changes will succeed.
It should be clear that most theorists and researchers today conceive of organizations as systems of interrelated parts and processes in dynamic interaction with their surrounding environments. The world is constantly changing and placing new demands, threats, and opportunities before its inhabitants. Organizations, like living creatures, often must first sense a change or a problem and then find ways of responding in order to continue to thrive, or perhaps, exist. Organizational diagnosis defines the problems and organizational development provides the solutions.
H. Organizational Theories
To work in the field of organizational diagnosis and development, professional needs some kind of theoretical model of organizations just as one needs a theoretical model of human behavior. These models help psychologists and other social scientists define the types of relationships that exist between and among organizations, their component parts, and their internal and external environments. There is no shortage of models from which to choose, and some have clearly laid important foundations (see Hodge & Anthony, 2002).
As Durkheim defines religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church all those who adhere to them. Religion belongs to a sacred things, things protected and isolated by prohibitions and set apart from the mundane, the everyday worldly objects and activities. Religion embodies beliefs or representations which express the nature of sacred things as well as rites prescribing how a person should behave in the presence of sacred objects. The essential thing is that religion is a collective thing, that is, the beliefs and the values are the possession of a group which imposes them upon its members.
Organizations’ problems are usually people problems that can be solved by getting new people, changing aspects of an organization. A detailed description of a job, or job analysis, is a necessary first step in decisions that affect both job applicants and job incumbents. Job-related information is used as a basis for legal and effective decision making such as employee selection and promotion. Successful training depends upon careful development of both content and methods in light of psychological principles of learning and memory. Performance appraisal is crucially important for evaluative and control purposes for psychologists, managers, and employees. Modifying employee work environments, equipment tools or jobs through engineering is sometimes the method of choice in enhancing both individual and organizational performance. A person’s job performance can be interpreted as a product of the relationship between personal motives, abilities, and values. People continuously seek to obtain goals that are consistent with their needs/drives, expectations, and preferences.
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