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Human safety issues.

To what Extent are People subordinated to Systems and Organizations in the 21st Century?

To what Extent are People subordinated to Systems and Organizations in the 21st Century?
In modern times, work has become an integral part of life making it difficult to separate
each from the other. Several studies have been undertaken in the field of work concerning the
relationship that exists between organizations, people, and life. Several theories and perspectives
have also been developed in regard to elements intertwined in work and organizations
(Armstrong, 2009, n.p). Organizations have devised various initiatives in their effort to enhance
people’s performance at their workplace. These initiatives have in turn sparked numerous human

related issues across the globe such as work-life balance and human safety issues. Managing
people effectively in any organization has turned out to be a key skill and an area of concern
across organizations as they seek to have the best leaders and managers to steer their success to
desired heights.
From a rational system approach, organizations can be viewed as instruments designed to
attain specific goals. Earlier scholars in this perspective emphasized on the view that
organizations are deliberate and purposeful. The scientific management of Taylor focused on the
use of time and motion to optimize work procedures and increase on productivity. Fayol’s
administrative approach developed general guidelines on how to formalize organizational
relationships and structures. According to the Bureaucratic theory by Weber, bureaucracy is
becoming the primary modern organizational structure (Armstrong, 2009, n.p).
In the modern day society, formal organizations are viewed as systems of coordinated
and controlled activities arising from the embedment of work into complex networks of
boundary-spanning and technical relations exchanges. They are structures emanating from highly
institutional contexts. Moreover, organizations are made to incorporate the procedures and
practices defined by the prevailing rationalized concepts of institutionalized in society and
organizational work. Formal structures may be as a result of rational institutional rules arising
from certain domains of work activity (Donald and Ralston, 2005, p. 55). Again, they may be
caused by extended rationalized institutional structures in modernized societies.
People’s experiences at the workplace have several impacts on their lives that can be
either positive or negative. A healthy working experience is one where the pressures on the
employee are appropriate in regard to their abilities and resources, amount of control they have

over their work, as well as to the support they receive from others who matter to them. A healthy
working environment is one where there is both absence of harmful conditions and abundance of
health-promoting condition. Such may include provision of appropriate training and information
on health issues, continuous assessment of health risks, and the presence of health promoting
support structures and practices from the organization. Pressure at the workplace has been
closely linked to work-related stress. Workplace pressures are to some extent unavoidable due to
the contemporary work environment demands. The problem arises when the pressure becomes
excessive and a threat to employee’s health and work performance. Work-related stress is
attributed to poor work organization, poor work design, poor management, lack of support from
seniors and colleagues, and unsatisfactory working conditions. Research has a shown that the
most stressful type of work is that in which excessive pressures and demands that are not
matched to employee’s abilities and knowledge are valued, where there is minimal support from
others, and there is very little opportunity if any to exercise any control or choice (Donald and
Ralston, 2005, p. 56).
Notably, being appreciated and respected at the workplace is one of the lightly held
values in most companies yet the most fundamental human capital needs. Being appreciated and
respected remains some of the most important factors known to increase worker motivation,
satisfaction, health, and wellbeing. Ethics are an important aspect of a leader (Armstrong, 2009,
n.p). Ethics can in one aspect be defined as the systematic study of the morals and right or wrong
behavior viewed as the specific standard of right and wrong. Ethical leadership in this sense is a
two way process involving both moral influence and moral behavior. As such the ethical leaders
are able to effectively undertake their responsibilities and to subsequently shape the ethical
contexts of their organizations and societies. Ethical leaders should also demonstrate other

characters as optimism, compassion, justice, humility, make wise decisions, courage, and master
the ethical challenges of their responsibilities. Consequently, ethical organizational environments
are characterized by concern for how goals are to be achieved, justice, and integrity. They guide
against destructive practices by both leaders and followers.
Taking an example of Tesco Plc, the company offers competitive packages for their
employee in every area of business. They also have plans for securing their employees future
such as the pension scheme. To ensure that workers are staying healthy they have secured great
discounts with top healthcare companies. They offer exclusive discounted packages for workers
on health cash plans, private medical insurance, and dental cover to help meet the healthcare
cost. Members also enjoy access to a life assurance scheme that provides financial protection to
their family. The company has also developed flexible policies to help strike a balance between
work and personal life. In terms of career development and training, Tesco offers opportunities
for development programs and apprenticeship.
It is also important to look at the role of leadership and management as a key factor
determining the relationship between organizations and people. Managing people in
organizations requires strategic planning and leadership skills. Managers have the mandate to
influence others as leaders and make them believe in a common vision in achieving
organizational goals. They are also mandated with the responsibility of motivating workers
through communication and rewards. The positions they hold come with high expectations from
both the organization and the subordinates. The organization expects them to make viable
decisions on their behalf and oversee their implementation while on the either hand employees
expect managers to lead the way for them to follow (Donald and Ralston, 2005, p. 57). As such,
managers are faced with various interpersonal relations, information transfers, strategies and

decisions, and processes to confront. Management is primarily concerned with the optimum
attainment of organizational objectives through and with people. The management task is faced
with many other issues such as democracy, autonomy, and worker’s rights.
Working productively and the ability to develop cooperation around the organizational
goals are closely correlated with acquiring the right workforce for the right job. A Job structure
is of concern at this level which can be viewed as a system of interrelated jobs and authority.
Although there is no one standard organizational structure, most companies follow a system
commonly known as the “Christmas Tree” with the star at the top, smaller branches at the
management levels, and the bigger branches occupying the production levels. The single trunk
which supports the branches can be taken as the organization’s objectives and mission.
Consequently, each part of the tree has its unique function. When all the parts are able to work
together, then the system can survive, function productively, and has balance.
Primary elements of interest in designing the organizational structure are the job
specifications, departmentalization, span of control, and delegation of authority. Job specification
is concerned with what each unit in the organization is responsible for. Departmentalization
entails the grouping of responsibilities in common sectors with the main objective of achieving
coordination. Span of control is a definition of the number of job roles in each unit and the roles
that require coordination by a unit manager. Delegation of authority involves assigning the right
to make decisions without prior approval by the supervisor.
KMPG is a global company offering professional services in tax, audit, and advisory and
employing over 152,000 people. The company is well known for their effective organizational
structure whereby each of the national firm operates as an independent legal entity. It has in

many countries including UK been voted the best in the various categories such as the best big
company in the UK to work for.
Modern management is marked by two approaches, the contingency and the systems
approach. The contingency perspective analyses the management effectiveness as neither being
on the democratic or autocratic extreme but rather in terms of situational moderator variables.
This implies that different leadership traits are required for the different situations presenting
themselves within an organization. The path-goal theory posits that the characteristics of the
subordinates and those of the work environment are the major determinants the more effective
leader behavior. Key subordinate characteristics identified in this case include work experience,
need for affiliation, ability, and locus of control. Some of the important environmental
characteristics identified in the theory are nature of work groups, nature of tasks, and the system
of formal authority (Helmreich, 2012, p. 112). In this regard, the theory postulates four diverse
behaviors of leaders as directive leadership, achievement-oriented leadership, participative
leadership, and supportive leadership. In the sense of this perspective, the behavior of the leaders
ought to minimize the barriers that hinder subordinates from attaining their goals, provide
coaching to facilitate easier payoffs for the subordinates, and strengthen their expectancies that
better performance will bring about valued rewards. Looking at the path-goal perspective, the
characteristics of the subordinates
The systems approach on the other hand views organizations as total systems comprising
of interacting subsystems in a complex interaction with the external environment. Organizations
in this sense are viewed as input-transformation-output systems competing for resources. As
such, the prosperity of any organization greatly depends on the effectiveness to adapt to the
environment. This implies identifying a superior strategy for obtaining the necessary resources,

marketing its outputs, and confronting the external threats. Additionally, survival of the
organization depends on the efficiency of the process of transformation it uses to produce its
products as well as on worker motivation and cooperation. Efficiency of the organization’s
transformational process is increased by developing more rational methods of organizing and
performing the work through deciding how to make good use of the available technology,
personnel, and resources. The responsibility of coordinating operations across the various
specialized subunits, designing an appropriate organizational structure, and determining
authority relationships primarily lies with the top management. A system, therefore, can only
survive if it is able to deliver output that can maintain the system and be exchanged for new
inputs. Organizations need to ensure that all their functions and procedures are effective and
comply with standards and regulations. Systems management theory holds the idea that an
organization comprises of various parts that must undertake tasks necessary for the proper
functioning and survival of the whole system. Proper systems and processes enhance
The organizational side of the psychology discipline is more focused on understanding
ways in which organizations affect individual behaviour. Factors that can impact the way that the
human capital behave within organizations include organizational structures, management styles,
social norms, and role expectations. Industrial-Organizational psychology is a psychology branch
that adopts psychological principles and theories to organizations. By understanding the factors
that influence organizational behaviour, I-O psychologists hope to promote and improve
individual health and performance and at the same time benefit the organization as a whole.
An example of a company that is well known in addressing their workers needs and
welfare is Nike. The recruitment and selection process is an integral part of the running of the

organization since it provides the right candidates to steer the company’s goals and vision. When
the process is successful in bringing forth the right employee for a certain job, the performance is
equally higher. Properly placed employees are more likely to undertake their duties
enthusiastically and stay in the organization for longer. They are a source of motivation to
themselves and to others and are willing to go an extra mile to have things done. The right
candidates can only be found through the right channels and methods of recruitment.
Nike’s employees are appraised annually towards the end of every year through a seven
category evaluation with sub-categories. The first category is on the quality of work where
employees are evaluated on their customer focus, dependability, and judgment. The second
evaluation criterion is on the quantity of work. The third criterion evaluates job knowledge while
the fourth criterion focuses on communications and the fifth on working relationships and
teamwork. Criteria six emphasizes on leadership and while criteria seven focuses on planning.
Each employee is appraised by their supervisor within their given level.
Nike focuses on acquiring the best efforts through recruitment and building on their
teams through talent development. This involves focusing on the company’s future business
needs and how to plan for the growth. One of the approaches that the company is using to sustain
business performance is on critical assignment planning, accountability for coaching and
mentoring by managers, and a variety of other innovative approaches to team and individual
learning. The development program is undertaken by managers and supervisors through a five
step process. Step one involves implementing development modules in their order of importance.
Step two involves an interaction of the trainer with the audience and the presentation of the
material. In step three, multi-media tools are used in the training session. The fourth step
involves an employee filling the feedback form to collect comments and rate the training session.

In the fifth and final step, employees are encouraged to interact with older employees who can
share their experiences concerning the job.
This views organization as machines in which people are parts. Since in modern the
machines dominate the world, people are expected to working to certain procedures and rest
according to set rules in mechanical way. The machine organization is used as a tool to achieve
the ends of their owners (Helmreich, 2012, p. 112). After the industrial revolution, many people
lost their jobs and became specialists in controlling machines. Machine organization ensures;
standardized equipment, standardized regulation, systematic training, task specialization and
command language. Machine managers are taught to control and divide organizations into
functional department each department with precisely defined jobs. Commands flow from top
department downwards to have precisely defined effect. Machine organization works well if the
environment is stable, humans behave like machines, the task is simple, and task is repetitive and
if precision is required. It has some number of limitations that include: it fosters bureaucracy; it
is dehumanizing, adapt poorly to change and can have unexpected, unwanted consequences.
In industrial countries society is composed of organizations with their own peculiar
beliefs, rituals, rules and each influence our lives. According to Emile Durkheim, traditional
patterns of social order disintegrate in organizational societies and lead to fragment believes on
the society occupational structure. In short, culture shapes the organizations, and organizations
are mini-societies with different subcultures (Sutton, 2010, p. 89). The advantages of culture
organization are that it draws attention to subjective meaning and symbolic aspect of
organizations, to shared mental programs s that create this meaning, helps in understanding
organizational change and helps to interpret the significance of relations between organization

and its environment. However, cultural model of organization can lead to ideological control in
the wrong hands, and it’s not easy to get the complete picture of the existing culture.
The employees do not have freedom to chose, make their own decisions. They only have
the freedom to quit or move on. The organizations are structured according to political principles
since the concept of power, superior-subordinate relation and authority dominate management
and organization. In political organizations, autocratic managers rule the organizations with a lot
of power that make all the decisions, as opposed to bureaucracies where one acts according to
the rules or democratic organization where the rule is how should we do it? Politics is mostly
invisible and mostly evident in the conflict, interpersonal intrigues and power plays. In human
systems, people have different interest that may come into conflict with other people interest or
organization interest. They became political if people begin to share interest to advance their
interests (Sutton, 2010, p. 91).
The human capital has emerged as a crucial asset of any organization unlike previously
when the most valued assets included physical capital such as machinery. The shift has since
turned to having better recruiting, motivating, and retention policies and strategies in an effort to
acquire the most experienced personnel for the organization. Human resource as such is a
combination of abilities, experiences, and culture that has the capacity to either drag the
company backwards or make it an extemporary field of success. Numerous studies done
concerning the relationship between human capital and the success of the company have proved
that employees play a pivotal role in making organizations successful.



Armstrong, M 2009, Armstrong’s Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice,
London: Kogan Page.
Donald, C, & Ralston, J 2005, ‘Supremacy or Subordination? Is the Issue of ADA and CBA
Conflicts Resolved?’, Employee Relations Law Journal, 31, 2, pp. 55-78.
Helmreich, JS 2012, ‘Putting Down: Expressive Subordination and Equal Protection’, UCLA Law
Review Discourse, 59, p. 112, LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews

Sutton, RI 2010, ‘Why good bosses tune in to their people’, Mckinsey Quarterly, 3, pp. 86-95.

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