ARM: Human Relations Approach

By: Kenzie Fischer

The Human Relationarms Approach to management is defined as “a management approach that promotes focusing on meeting the emotional needs of the worker with less focus on production.  It is based on the idea that employees are motivated not only by financial reward but also by a range of social factors (i.e. a sense of belonging, feelings of achievement). This theory holds that attitudes, relationships, and leadership styles play an important role in the performance of an organization (Human Relations Theory, 2016). The human relations approach theory began development in the early 1920’s. At that time, productivity was the primary focus of business. Elton Mayo, Fritz Roethlisberger, and William Dickson were the researchers who conducted the Hawthorne Studies.

The Hawthorne Studies is a series of experiments that were conducted to determine the effect of lighting on productivity at the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Plant. The plant workers were separated into either the experimental group or the control group. The experimental group assembled the coils in varied lighting situations, while the control group assembled the coils under normal lighting conditions. Manipulations during this experiment included additional work breaks, raises based on the worker’s performance, and altering work schedules. Mayo and his team conducted several variations of this experiment to figure out why workers in the experimental group were more productive than the workers in the control group. They soon found that the reason for increased production was due to the attention given to the workers by the experimenter and their supervisors. His studies found that if the company and/or managers took an interest in employees and cared for them, it had a positive effect on their motivation. When managers were interested in their employees, they felt more appreciated and valued. Mayo identified the importance of the ‘human factor’ in organizations. This meant that workers were now recognized as having social needs and interests (Human Relations Theory and People Management, 1953).

Mayo believed that an employee’s need for supportive work relationships was a result of losing close attachments they shared with family and friends. Therefore, their unfulfilled needs must be fulfilled by the organization. Because of this, Mayo believed that one of the most important function was to provide spontaneous cooperation; the fostering of relationships and teamwork (Organizational Communications: Strategies for Success, 2012). This perspective focuses on relationships as opposed to production. It was eventually found that organizations that used the human relations approach usually experienced lower productivity because the main focus was the workers’ psychological well- being. It was recently found in a re- analysis of the original data found that managerial discipline, financial incentives, and increased break times significantly predicted worker productivity.

Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) is a company of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors. ARM develops the architecture and licenses it to other companies, who design their own products that implement one of those architectures. It also designs cores that implement this instruction set and licenses these designs to different companies that incorporate those designs into their own products. ARM was founded in 1990 and now has offices around the world. ARM’s main technology is its microprocessor. Technology from ARM is used in 95% of the world’s mobile headsets, and in over a quarter of all electronic devices including computers, smart phones, digital cameras, and televisions.

ARM has a very diverse workforce. 2,050 employees work across 30 sites in 15 different countries. ARM is a business focused on innovation. This innovation comes from the entire business, not just its research team. ARM relies on its people to achieve this innovation. The business is focused on global learning and development, talent management, and appropriate rewards in order to develop and maintain the skills its employees need. Due to technological advances, the organization is constantly changing. Managing change requires effective employee engagement. ARM defines engagement as, “Commitment to the job, manager, team and organization which drives effort and intent to stay, resulting in improved performance and retention” (ARM, 2016). Collaborating with other employees allows them to develop practical solutions to problems. Research has shown that a 10% increase in employee commitment can lead to a 6% increase in employee effort. Ensuring high levels of motivation within its employees is vital to ARM’s marketing strategy. Teamwork is one of the most important factors within its innovative environment.

Motivation is the level of commitment an individual has to what they are doing. The motivation theory focuses on how individuals behave in the workplace. By understanding what motivates employees, it is possible to create a fun and efficient workplace. It is also important to ensure that employees are happy at work. This will create satisfied employees who will work with more enthusiasm and focus on the goals of the company. Research has found that about 75% of an organization’s employees are neither engaged nor disengaged. Considering ARM’s description of how engagement can drive performance, this means that, if more employees were engaged, the organization could expect improved performance. Motivating people does not only benefit the individual, but the business as well. A variety of values help to build ARM’s approach to motivation. These include respecting and involving others, being proactive, and adopting a positive attitude in order to solve problems. For example, ARM employees work in teams where they are encouraged to produce solutions to problems. This not only helps the business, but also their personal development.

ARM explained how the company gains employee engagement through various elements of its HR strategy of team working. Buying into and sharing common values supports a collaborative approach to innovation. Sharing knowledge helps to develop relationships and networks within the business and leads to the creation of new ideas. Developing talent through training to improve expertise benefits individuals but also helps to ensure ARM will have key skills despite global shortages in some areas. Providing opportunities for individuals to grow into new roles also supports succession planning for future leadership. Various reward systems recognize individual and team effort. ARM provides employees with opportunities for fulfill needs such as esteem and self- actualization through interesting and challenging work.

Teamwork within ARM provides employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas across the entire organization. Open and honest communication is key to team work. ARM has an ‘open door’ policy where employees can go to managers at any time with questions or issues. This supports the spotlight on information and knowledge sharing. ARM uses employee engagement as a key factor in motivation. This is a satisfier as employees begin to develop a genuine relationship with their teammates. A number of other motivators are used at ARM, such as employees receiving shares in the company as well as bonuses based on how well the company is doing.

Mayo’s beliefs are parallel to ARM’s focus on developing its employees as part of its business strategy. Employees at ARM work best within learning and development teams. Managers at ARM have responsibility for motivating individuals and their teams. Important elements of this include: 1. Communicating and explaining the ARM goal, values, and strategy to all team members so everyone is working at the same level. 2. Providing appropriate training and induction for new employees as well as coaching for all in order to develop skills, confidence, and self- reliance. 3. Carrying out one- to- one meetings and employee reviews to assess performance and set personal and team objectives. 4. Putting in place succession planning for the team and manager roles to ensure long term performance. Personal development is crucial to the HR strategy at ARM. Employee reviews allow the individual to reflect on the contributions they made while giving feedback and support.

ARM’s strategy places great importance on employee engagement to create a motivated team. This is crucial given the innovative and highly skilled nature of the company. By emphasizing training and development, open communication, and a fun approach, ARM has created a productive and committed global workforce.







Avtgis, T. A., Rancer, A. S., & Liberman, C. J. (2012). Organizational Communication: Strategies for Success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

(2016). Human relations theory – Oxford Reference. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Human Relations Theory and People Management. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Ltd., A. (n.d.). Home – ARM. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from


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