Human Relations and Service Learning

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Definition and Overview of Human Relations

The topic of human relations has been explored extensively by different scholars. Cafferkey et al. (2019) defined the term as “fitting people into work situations to motivate them to work together harmoniously” (para. 1). In other words, the collocation implies interactions with or between people at a specific work setting. The aim of fitting individuals together is to achieve higher productivity levels while meeting employees’ social, economic, and psychological needs. In human resource management, the phrase implies the process of training workers, meeting their needs, and resolving existing conflicts between employees and management. Today, technology is increasingly affecting how people interact in workplace-workers prefer modern forms of communication such as Facebook and Twitter.

Overview of Human Relations

The concept was introduced in the 1920s following the need to improve efficiency. The behavioral school of management and behavioral science approach contributed significantly to shaping human relations. The concept, as a study, has undergone drastic changes over the years. For instance, the focus during the classical school of management was on efficiency instead of human relations. In the 1920s, when employees began to unionize, the term gained meaning (Kaufman, 2019). This led to creating the behavioral school of management with a renewed focus on human relations in the workplace. In the 1950s, the behavioral science approach began studying different management techniques with the aim of increasing human relations (Kaufman, 2019). From the 1960s onward, the researchers have sophisticated tools to examine the statistical aspects of human relations.

Mayo’s Human Relations Theory

While there are many theories that explain human relations, this presentation will focus on the one developed by an Australian psychologist Elton Mayo. According to Mayo, workers are not only motivated by money but also by the social needs which must be met while at work (Omodan et al., 2020). Mayo’s theory encourages managers to pay closer attention to workers by treating and viewing them as people who add value to their organizations (Omodan et al., 2020). They should strive to realize that employees enjoy interacting together. Mayo concludes that human relations develop as a result of better communication between workers and greater manager engagement.

Human Relations Skills

Human relations skills include communication, organizing, negotiation, and conflict resolution (Wijenayake & Indika, 2018). Organizing is considered one of the most important human relations skills due to its impact on other areas of work. Managers are advised to encourage workers to keep their physical space and workflow organized. Communication skills guide managers in adopting an open door policy. Effective communication ensures employees feel motivated and valued, thus improving productivity. An ability to resolve conflicts allows managers to handle different personalities, worldviews, and goals in order to achieve universal agreement. Strong negotiation skills help a leader maintain peace between differing parties. The aim is to ensure they reach an agreement where everyone is satisfied.

The research on human relations demonstrates that workers feel a sense of belonging when treated with respect and value. If managers show such an attitude to employees, their productivity tends to improve coupled with an increase in quality. According to Mayo’s theory, employees contribute more to an organization once they feel responsible, respected, and valued. More importantly, human relations are the most critical factor in productivity. A human relations approach to management requires managers to have a special set of skills such as organizing, negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication. Overall, employees who receive attention and respect, tend to perceive their work output as having importance and will be encouraged to be more productive.

Service Learning

Service learning is a type of teaching and learning methodology that instills a sense of responsibility in students. As a strategy, service learning provides a rigorous curriculum that equips learners with the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace environment. As a form of experimental learning, service learning allows students to utilize critical thinking and academic knowledge to meet specific community needs. The best service learning experiences manifest itself through evidence-based education that is embedded in the community. It is regarded as one of the most reliable strategies used to provide a current curriculum that prepares learners to succeed in the workplace environment. According to Huda et al. (2018), service learning should integrate national standards and performance indicators for positive academic outcomes. These indicators are achieved through the following components: investigation, planning, action, reflection, and demonstration.

Service Learning: Federal Definition

Service learning, from a federal point of view, combines service to students and the community with the aim of improving knowledge and skills. National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 defines service learning as a method that imparts knowledge in a well-structured service to meet the needs of the community (Kwenani & Yu, 2018). The structured services are intended to meet the needs of the society (Kwenani & Yu, 2018). Service learning is currently being practiced in elementary, middle, high, and postsecondary schools.

Benefits of Service Learning

Many institutions of higher learning are shifting their attention to the integration of service-learning programs due to benefits accrued to it (Tyndall et al., 2020). Growing body research considers service learning as an evidence-based strategy that helps students in numerous aspects. It implies facilitating learning by encouraging students to participate actively in-service experiences and providing students with enough time to reflect through critical thinking about their service experiences (Tyndall et al., 2020). In addition, this approach involves supplying students with opportunities to apply in-class theoretical knowledge to real-life situations and fostering a sense of respect and caring for community members (Tyndall et al., 2020). More specifically, service learning has been cited by several scholars as the best platform for improving social outcomes for students.

Effects on Community Partners

Service programs have been introduced a long time ago, though, only since 1995, they started gaining recognition throughout the United States due to their impact on communities where students serve. For instance, a major impact of this form of learning as explicated by X is that community organizations are witnessing the presence of more volunteers, which improves performance. Students have an opportunity to utilize the skills developed to benefit these organizations. In other words, partnering with universities allows community organizations to gain access to new knowledge.

Concluding Remarks

Service learning is a teaching and learning approach, which strives to instill a sense of responsibility to students working in the communities. By working in the communities, learners gain new experiences which prepare them to succeed in workplace environments. From the federal point of view, service-learning in terms of student-community partnership with the aim of improving knowledge and skills. The benefits of service learning include motivating students to participate in service experiences, providing them with enough time to reflect on service experiences through critical thinking, and fostering a sense of caring. While learning services have been in existence for over 30 years, they only gained attraction in 1995 due to their impact on communities where students serve.


  1. Cafferkey, K., Heffernan, M., Harney, B., Dundon, T., & Townsend, K. (2019). Perceptions of HRM system strength and affective commitment: The role of human relations and internal process climate. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 30(21), 3026-3048. Web.
  2. Huda, M., Teh, K. S. M., Muhamad, N. H. N., & Nasir, B. M. (2018). Transmitting leadership based civic responsibility: Insights from service learning. International Journal of Ethics and Systems, 34(1), 20-31. Web.
  3. Kaufman, B. E. (2019). Managing the human factor. Cornell University Press.
  4. Kwenani, D. F., & Yu, X. (2018). Maximizing international students’ service-learning and community engagement experience: A case study of student voices on the benefits and barriers. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 22(4), 29-52.
  5. Omodan, B. I., Tsotetsi, C. T., & Dube, B. (2020). Analysis of human relations theory of management: A quest to re-enact people’s management towards peace in university system. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 18, 10. Web.
  6. Tyndall, D. E., Kosko, D. A., Forbis, K. M., & Sullivan, W. B. (2020). Mutual benefits of a service-learning community–Academic partnership. Journal of Nursing Education, 59(2), 93-96. Web.
  7. Vizenor, N., Souza, T. J., & Ertmer, J. J. (2017). Benefits of participating in service-learning, business-related classes: Assessing the impact on the community partners. The Journal of Research in Business Education, 58(1), 1-15.
  8. Wijenayake, M. D., & Indika, P. (2018). Impact of human relations skills of university administrative officers towards organizational effectiveness. Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.

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